The Blues Society, a documentary directed by Augusta Palmer, captures the spirit and importance of the Memphis Country Blues Festival between 1966 and 1969, a time when people of all racial stripes came together to make music in a city that was rife with tension and segregation.
Watch a sneak preview above, which includes the story of the fest’s first peaceful, integrated gathering, held one week after a KKK rally occurred on the very same site (the Overton Park Band Shell, now the Levitt Shell), and the perseverance of the Blues Society in the wake of the violence following Martin Luther King’s assassination in Memphis in 1968.
Organizers of the film created a Kickstarter page to tell this important story, and are a little less than halfway to their funding goal, with two days left. The full-length documentary is expected to come out in the spring of 2018.
The Blues Society features footage and music from Bukka White, John Fahey, Jim Dickinson, Furry Lewis, Reverend Robert Wilkins, Fred McDowell, and more.
Director Augusta Palmer is deeply invested in the project, in part because she is the daughter of Robert Palmer, a Memphis Country Blues Society member, festival organizer, and author of the book Deep Blues.
Check out the doc and get inspired. As Randall Lyon, an artist involved in organizing the Memphis Country Blues Festivals, describes the era:
“We had what you would call a … poetic furor. We were inspired, we were in a frenzy. We had heroic passion. I always figured that was the best thing that could happen to you, to be caught up with a group of people with heroic enthusiasm for what they’re doing.”