Take Me To the River20th September 2014 • 2 comments
Last week the Chicago chapter of the The Recording Academy hosted a screening of Martin Shore’s documentary ‘Take Me to the River’ for area members. The film celebrates the music of Memphis and the Mississippi Delta as well as the musicians who made it. Many of the legendary people in the film you may not know by name but you’ll definitely know the music they wrote, sang, and played. It’s the music everyone has always just sort of known- the music that’s so timeless it’s part of the ether- It’s the music that has influenced everything and everyone.
The film gathered legendary Memphis musicians and contemporary artists to have them record new versions of classic tracks. In doing so, stories are told, memories are revisited, and, inadvertently, the musicians, and filmmaker touch upon historical events, how the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. led to the fall of legendary Stax Records, how corporations started to infiltrate music, and how ultimately, the songs and those who make them are still what’s most important.
It’s wonderful to see the legendary musicians talk about things like Pro-Tools and Auto-Tune and how it used to be those who couldn’t play, didn’t play; now there are cheats available to give anyone a chance. It’s even more incredible to see performers well into their golden years sing and play in a manner that would shame most of the Billboard Hot 100. The musicians worked on 15 sessions in total, 9 are shown in the film- most were perfect in one take- no Auto-Tune needed.
Snoop-Dogg, Terrance Howard, L’il P-Nut, Frayser Boy, and Yo Gotti will capture the attention of younger film-goers who may not be well versed in blues musicians or popular music of bygone years, while untouchable greats like Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, Bobby Rush, Otis Clay, Mavis Staples, and Charlie Musslewhite will definitely be a draw for, well…everyone!
Martin Shore does a fantastic job of weaving together the history of the music, the business, and the fun that the musicians had working on this project and it really is something everyone should see. Tracks like ‘Ain’t No Sunshine,’ (Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland ft. Yo Gotti) and ‘Push and Pull,’ (Bobby Rush ft. Frayser Boy) are songs that are often cited, sampled and covered by others and the versions that appear in this film are exemplary.
Films like this reinforce what music is truly about and also remind us why we at Thirty Roses fight for the music we love.
The only slight downside to the film? I had to accept that I will never be as cool as Mavis Staples. I’m okay with that.
Take Me To the River is playing in select cities across the United States. Further information is available HERE