Saturday, August 13, 2022

New Mississippi Film: I Am the Blues

Deep in the heart of Mississippi, there is a place called the Delta.

In the Delta, we are known for our “pickin’ and grinnin” style. After a long day of working on the farm, and other strenuous jobs, it is always nice to retire to the front porch with your family and friends and your best friend, a guitar.

“I Am the Blues” is a film that captures the heart and soul of Mississippi Delta blues singers and musicians that have been in the blues for decades. Daniel Cross films blues men, and one woman, who are keeping the tradition alive.


“The older guys are slowly passing away,” explains harmonica player Bud Spires. Later on in this film titled after the eponymous book by Willie Dixon, we watch as Spires himself is buried. In Mississippi, Daniel Cross filmed lots of other elderly men – and one woman, the left-handed guitarist Barbara Lynn – who despite their venerable age are still working on the blues. One of these last remaining “blues devils” is Bobby Rush, who was born in 1933. He explains that in the 1950s, he toured the “chitlin’ circuit” of special bars where blacks weren’t troubled by the segregation laws, getting paid in hamburgers or, at the most, a few dollars. One of these bars even features in the film, because Jimmy “Duck” Holmes has managed to keep the Blue Front Cafe going and it’s now part of the official Mississippi Blues Trail. The blues men share their memories, play jam sessions (including a thrilling slice of boogie-woogie piano by 90-year-old Henry Gray) and go about their daily lives, fishing for lobster, barbecuing, playing on the veranda and visiting old friends from the music scene – before it’s too late.”

Film Festivals

Right now, the film is being played at the International Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam. Among featuring blues singers and musicians from the Mississippi Delta, and some North Mississippi area, the film does high light singers and musicians in the Louisiana Bayou. Featured blues stars include Bobby Rush, Barbara Lynn, Henry Gray, Carol Fran, Lazy Lester, Bilbo Walker, RL Boyce, Jimmy ‘Duck’ Holmes, Lil Buck Sinegal and LC Ulmer, to name a few.


1017494_3140364686203_537311299_nEmily Newton is a staff writer for and editor of Experience Oxford magazine. She can be reached at

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