Down Home Music (4 stars)

Down Home Music


In 1963 German filmmaker Dietrich Wawzyn set out to shoot a series of films for German television that took him through the southern states in search of American jazz and roots music. He asked Arhoolie Records founder Chris Strachwitz, an expert in regional musical traditions, to be his guide and together they made three films, dealing with blues, gospel, and hillbilly music. The negatives to those films were then lost. This fascinating film retraces that journey with the help of left over footage, much of which is previously unreleased.

A kind of lightweight Germanic half cousin to Harry Smith’s mighty Anthology of American Folk Music, Wawzyn is still a fairly awesome record of the likes of Lightnin’ Hopkins, the Blind James Campbell String Band, The Hodges Brothers, King Louis H Narcisse performing at the top of their game. In terms of extras: Chris Strachwitz audio commentary is definitely worth listening to.

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