The Blues is an earthy, soul-stirring mélange of roots music and personal narratives that became the defining soundtrack of Black America. Wherever Black people settled that soundtrack took on a local flavor. In Northern California, the influences came from the musicianship of Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma. Seventh Street in West Oakland supported and bolstered Blacks who answered the call of the war effort in the late 1940’s. Entrepreneurship created a fully contained community that provided work, homes and all the necessities of life including a fully developed music scene. Watch as more than 30 local musicians share their inspiration and describe the trajectory of the Oakland Blues: how it evolved and what it has become.
Isabel Wilkerson, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of The Warmth of Other Suns, Robert O. Self, author of American Babylon: The Struggle for Post War Oakland, and Rickey Vincent, author of Funk and Party Music, provide background giving these musical stories a historical context. The film incudes a catapulting soundtrack, amazing period images - newly digitized negatives from EF Joseph’s Collection, film clips from Marlon Riggs’ and Peter Webster’s film Long Train Running, others from private collections, even the Library of Congress.
Listen to entertaining interviews from Blues Legends like Sugar Pie DeSanto, Bob Geddins, Jr., Marvin Holmes, Faye Carol, Larry Vann, Lenny Williams, Ronnie Stewart, John Turk, Leon Williams, Alabama Mike, Ron Wells, Fantastic Negrito, The Hartfield Brothers, Freddie Hughes, Wylie Trass, Jesse James, Lady Bianca, Tom Bowden, and D’Wayne Wiggins. Then Lee Hildebrand, a music journalist and James C. Moore, Sr., record producer and talent manager, share their perspectives. We have incorporate legends such as Charles Sullivan, T-Bone Walker, Lowell Fulson, Jimmy McCracklin, Big Mama Thronton, and Omar Sharriff with short vignettes. Bob Geddins, Sr. and Johnny Talbot and De Thangs, and even Larry Graham are included through the stories the musicians tell about their impact on the scene.