We have some exciting news here at Blues Unlimited Radio! Join your pal and mine, Sleepy Boy Hawkins — in the flesh! — for the first ever Bainbridge Island Museum of Art Mojo Rhythm & Blues Festival. The fun begins on Thursday, July 11th, with live music from Tiffany Wilson & Friends, and continues on Friday, July 12th, with more live music, and a special screening of Mike Shea’s critically acclaimed slice-of-life documentary, And This Is Free.
Mike Shea’s only film is a seldom-seen pioneering cinema-vérité masterpiece, a fundamental historical document of Chicago’s Maxwell Street market as a quintessential public space (the market was dismantled in the 1990s to make room for student housing). Shea, who had been a photojournalist for Life and other magazines, shot the film over 16 Sundays (the market’s busiest day) in 1964, and was often accompanied on the shoot by 21-year old Mike Bloomfield, later of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Dylan’s Highway 61-era band, who knew the street musicians and helped facilitate filming.
And This Is Free features blues and gospel performances by legendary Chicago musicians Robert Nighthawk, Johnny Young, Blind Arvella Gray, Jim & Fannie Brewer, Carrie Robinson and many more.
And This Is Free is one of the greatest documentaries of the 1960s and perhaps the liveliest portrait of American street life ever captured on film. The 50-minute feature will be supplemented by additional rare footage documenting the market and the musicians who played there.
Be sure to stick around on Saturday, July 13th, as Howlin’ Wolf biographer Mark Hoffman and I have a “Blues Listening Party,” presenting some of our favorite performances of all time. What cuts will we choose? Be sure to come and find out!
The festival runs from July 11th through the 14th, and will feature live music, more films (Mark Hoffman will present a feature on Howlin’ Wolf on Saturday the 13th) and a panel discussion with Mark, Jim Basnight, and I on Sunday the 14th, followed by another “Blues Listening Party,” and a presentation by Jim on Sonny Williamson #2. As they say… you don’t wanna miss this!
Bainbridge Island is just a short 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle, and is a popular weekend getaway. If you’re coming by boat, the Art Museum is a short walk from the Ferry terminal in downtown Winslow (as the main town on Bainbridge is called by the locals). If you’re going to be in the area, be sure to stop by. I’ll also have copies of the Elmore James bio with me as well!
Note: You may reserve tickets for And This Is Free by clicking on this link — please note that the film screening is free and open to the public.