Running time: 52 min.
Synopsis: This documentary was released in 1990 but the material is from 60's. Masters of the country blues has many episodes, on this episode we enjoy the music and performances of legendary Son House and Bukka White.
Sometimes music is entertainment, sometimes it's history, and sometimes it's both. Among the recent multitude of blues reissues, recent releases from Yazoo are definitely both. Videos from the Masters of the Country Blues series feature brief but welcome performances by some seminal artists - Son House, Bukka White, the Rev. Gary Davis, Sonny Terry, Mance Lipscomb, and Lightning Hopkins.
The Seattle Folklore society recorded the material in the late '60s, the tapes were saved, converted to film, and are now available on home video.
Each tape features two artists, linked by geography and, consequently, musical approaches.
The Mississippi delta is well represented by Son House and bukka White. Son is a true legendary slide guitarist and singer of frightening intensity. When Robert Johnson copped licks and lyrics from House's "Walking Blues" and "Preaching the Blues," he got a lesson in emotional depth as well - Son always sang for keeps. Son opens his set with a burning version of "Death Letter Blues," playing a steel-body National guitar, and, though in his late '60s, he snaps strings and growls lyrics with the fervor of a man truly possessed. House, who wavered between temptations of the blues life and a calling as a preacher, follows with an a cappella version of the spiritual "John the Revelator," then begins to talk about choosing between god and the devil. He sits down for "Preaching the blues," then closes with another a cappella spiritual. House lays bare his attempt to merge musical gifts with spiritual beliefs; it's compelling to see.
Bukka White, cousin and inspiration to B.B. King, is a more flamboyant performer. His exuberant slide playing sometimes almost drowns out his vocals, while flashy arm gestures add drama to his performance. He does five guitar pieces, as well as a serviceable barrelhouse piano blues. His percussively rhythmic strumming drives the set.