You See Me Laughin': The Last of the Hill Country Bluesmen | Chicago Reader

You See Me Laughin': The Last of the Hill Country Bluesmen

Some of the most primal, hypnotic records I've heard have come from the small Mississippi blues label Fat Possum; like Alan Lomax in the 30s and John Fahey and Bill Barth in the 60s, label founders Matthew Johnson and Bruce Watson set out to discover and record unschooled rural singers who could still summon up the demons of the Delta blues. This 2001 video by Mandy Stein delivers a wealth of haunting tunes by Fat Possum artists R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, T-Model Ford, CeDell Davis, and others. I don't know whether to believe all of their juke-joint tales (Burnside, who served a six-month jail term for shooting someone in the back of the head, claims he acted in self-defense), though I was intrigued by the glimpses of the cordial but tentative relationship between the cagey old singers and the white, middle-class label owners. 90 min.

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