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Those who bite, shall be bitten - Kid Prince Moore, Bite Back Blues

Author Topic: Chasin' Gus' Ghost - the Movie  (Read 6507 times)

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Offline arlotone

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Re: Chasin' Gus' Ghost - the Movie
« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2010, 02:45:59 PM »
This film was intended for theatrical viewing, so I imagine including every performance in full would have made it prohibitively long. It's not an instructional DVD or an archive of footage but a documentary and it follows the typical editing style for that format. I saw the film three different times in theater settings and it seemed to work well for a more general audience. In fact, I overheard people afterwards saying things like, "I had no idea jug band music was so important," which is great.

That being said, I heard a rumor that the DVD contains the complete performances as bonus features. Can anyone confirm that? I haven't bought it yet but I plan to. As a total jug band nerd, the film contains a few historical type things that bugged me. But those distractions diminished each time I saw it and I got more out of what the interviewees were saying, and enjoyed the footage that is there. There really is some unique stuff: the Yank Rachell performance, the Kweskin/Muldaur/Sebastian tour in Japan, an insightful interview with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and a poignant interview with an ill Fritz Richmond. Not bad for 20 bucks!

Offline Rivers

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Re: Chasin' Gus' Ghost - the Movie
« Reply #16 on: August 18, 2010, 07:43:31 PM »
"I had no idea jug band music was so important,"

There's one for the quote generator  :P

Offline soul of a man

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Re: Chasin' Gus' Ghost - the Movie
« Reply #17 on: August 19, 2010, 07:41:56 AM »
I think the movie was created more as an introduction to jug band music for general audiences and, as such, it works pretty well.  I'm unhappy to report that complete performances are not available as extras on the DVD.  Mostly the extras consist of interviews with Fritz Richmond and John Sebastian.

Offline doctorpep

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Re: Chasin' Gus' Ghost - the Movie
« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2010, 05:59:18 PM »
I recently purchased this dvd online. I have to say that this is one of the best Country Blues-oriented dvds out there. The 'Down The Tracks' Zeppelin and Dylan ones were also great for the simple reason that all three of these discs admit that they are providing us with insight into early Blues through the eyes of outsiders. Yes, that is something that is essential to mention at the beginning of any documentary about Blues. The goofyness that surrounds a lot of other Blues (or Jug Band) documentaries (Scorcese mess) wasn't present here, unless you count Taj Mahal's part as silly, which I don't. To his credit, Taj did the best job he could. His lines were well delivered although the concept itself was a bit cheezy. He didn't harm the thing in the end.

Yes, there should have been an option on the dvd which allows the viewer to take a look at the performances in their entirety. The performances could not have been shown in their entirety during the actual documentary. This is for reasons related to length of the film and perhaps monetary ones.

Highlights abound. I particularly enjoyed seeing John Estes' sons, one of whom looks exactly like Sleepy John. I thought the segment on Louisville was fantastic. It was a joy to take a look at, no, feel, what New York City was like half a century ago. It was heartwarming, strange, and funny to see the popularity of jug band music in Japan and to see mostly Jewish, middle-aged New Yorkers hang out there. I would have loved to see Kweskin and others walk around Tokyo. That would have made a superb extra!

One Blues historian in the documentary, Fetzer Mills (spelling?), was really something. He certainly seemed eccentric but you could tell that he's extremely passionate about what he does (for a living?).

Basically, the reason that this was an excellent documentary is because the makers spared us absurd romanticism related to the music and didn't torture us by superimposing middle-aged white guys' lives and realities upon those of Gus Cannon, a black man who was born between 1874 and 1883. We understood, just as any rational person would, that there is a distinct separation between the worlds of these two camps. It was the love of Sebastian, Kweskin and others for this great American music that shone through, and not a label like authentic.

It was also important to see young African-American musicians carrying this stuff on. I'd always thought that most Rap songs sounded like the verses in "On The Road Again", and now my musically untrained ears have confirmation.

For me, the negatives are that Professor Evans and Samuel Charters didn't get to speak enough and that the film was a little disjointed and poorly edited in places.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2010, 06:01:45 PM by doctorpep »
"There ain't no Heaven, ain't no burning Hell. Where I go when I die, can't nobody tell."

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Offline Stumblin

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Re: Chasin' Gus' Ghost - the Movie
« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2011, 06:30:20 AM »
Okay. My copy arrived last week.
I can't say I'm fantastically enthusiastic about the film as a whole.
It seemed to me that the director gave up on Gus Cannon et al way too easily and concentrated on the Muldaurs, Jim Kweskin etc. This is probably fine for someone who lived through the late 1960s as a music-conscious sub-culture denizen, but I don't really know much about those people. They're all cool and probably nice people, but I was expecting more historical content in this documentary, so I felt a bit disappointed.
The Yokohama Jug Band Festival was an eye opener though, I've got to get to that one of these days.
The reason I'm bumping this old thread?
So that anyone thinking of buying this DVD in hopes of lots of early blues history can be warned that it concentrates largely on a number of 60s revivalists. I'll certainly check out the bonus performances when I have time, but it's probably unlikely that I'll watch the feature again in its entirety.

Offline Mike Billo

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Re: Chasin' Gus' Ghost - the Movie
« Reply #20 on: June 02, 2011, 07:08:21 PM »

  I believe the film maker's intent was to represent Jug Band Music as a living, evolving art form, rather than give a history lesson about a museum piece.

  I agree that, if you're looking for a lot of historical, biographical data on early Blues, then this is definitely not the film for you.

  Guys like Kweskin, Muldaur and Fritz Richmond really mean something to me, because it was through their inspiration and my own involvement with Jug Band Music that I became introduced to Country Blues.
  Would I have discovered CB without playing and listening to Jug Band first?
  Of course I would have, but I derive a lot of inspiration from them (and, of course, the originators, Like Gus Cannon, the Memphis Jug Band, et al) to this day

  It's definitely a "preaching to the choir" movie, but then, so are most films about music, in one way or another.

  I give it a "thumbs up"

Offline Stumblin

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Re: Chasin' Gus' Ghost - the Movie
« Reply #21 on: June 03, 2011, 02:17:02 AM »
No harshness intended.
I'll probably make a couple of copies & distribute them amongst friends.
That Yokohama bit really made the whole thing for me.
But really; locate graveyard, travel to graveyard, can't be bothered to search for grave...
That was a big low point.

Offline Mike Billo

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Re: Chasin' Gus' Ghost - the Movie
« Reply #22 on: June 03, 2011, 07:05:34 AM »
"But really; locate graveyard, travel to graveyard, can't be bothered to search for grave...
That was a big low point"


     Agreed, Stumblin! Definitely a low point.
     The film maker is obviously not a polished Pro. There's a lot of amateurish "home movie" moments. 

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Chasin' Gus' Ghost - the Movie
« Reply #23 on: June 03, 2011, 08:11:09 AM »
I'll probably make a couple of copies & distribute them amongst friends.

I think you meant make copies of <insert megabuck Hollywood blockbuster here> while recommending small indie projects for more legit viewing methods which support that kind of work and add a smidgen of hope that more such work might get done by others in the future, perhaps of better quality. Just guessing.  >:D

Offline Stumblin

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Re: Chasin' Gus' Ghost - the Movie
« Reply #24 on: June 03, 2011, 11:44:04 AM »
I'll probably make a couple of copies & distribute them amongst friends.

I think you meant make copies of <insert megabuck Hollywood blockbuster here> while recommending small indie projects for more legit viewing methods which support that kind of work and add a smidgen of hope that more such work might get done by others in the future, perhaps of better quality. Just guessing.  >:D
You're absolutely correct, of course, I will now revise my plan of action.
The disc will get lent to a couple of friends who I think will appreciate it.

 


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