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Wesley Jefferson

Brian and I spent the day reviewing and logging the footage we’ve taken so far, including some of Brian’s excellent “b-roll” (video shots of surroundings to be used for cutaways or expository material). We’ve come up with a logging system as we collect clips in FinalCut Pro; after all, we are planning to collect 50 hours of tape for our half-hour documentary and expect to be working with 500 or so clips. Tom Davenport, Steve Knoblock and Rob Roberts at Folkstreams.net suggested this method: we organize the tapes by date (07.05.06) and by tape number ( and then, under each tape number heading, we number our clips chronologically, titling the as we go: ( B-Roll Wet dirt road and cloudy sky short). Below the title, we rate the clipon a scale of 1-10 for Content, Video and Audio qualities and transcribe or further explain the clip (10, 10, n/a, Short B-Roll of wet dirty road and cloudy sky at Hopson). We then match this text entry to our FinalCut logging using number and title and arrange the clips in folders according to tape number. We expect this to help greatly in the editing process. Click below to view our complete clip log,from which we will make our documentary.


The work can be exhausting, but we’ve got a built-in pressure valve right in our backyard:

Later that night, a crowd is gathered at Red’s to see Big T and Wesley Jefferson (above), another Clarksdale bluesman, alternate as leaders of a loose group of local musicians. A number of Jefferson’s family members are in attendance, and many of them pick up an instrument or sing a song as the players rotate throughout the evening. The set list is improvised as one member of the group begins a song and the others jump in, and the songs range from the deep, dirty blues to southern soul songs that vary just the tiniest bit from the local gospel sound.

Wesley Jefferson also happens to be the best shade-tree mechanic in this part of the Delta; with a pinch of the fingers under the hood and a sniff of their contents, he can diagnose an engine problem in seconds. He impeccably fixed up our ’69 Ford Econoline van (dubbed: The Shack on Wheels) that Tim and I brought—after13 serious breakdowns—from San Francisco to Clarksdale for a dime. He’s married to Miss Sara Carr, daughter of legendary Jelly Roll King drummer Sam Carr and the father of a number of talented children, all of whom are musical, and one of whom is serving in the War on Iraq.

Wesley’s version of the blues is good and dirty, with his wah-wah voice and stomping cadence. He’s also willing to let another player step into the spotlight while he takes a beer break. There’s a certain lack of boundary between audience and performer in the Delta that gives the music such electricity; in this room, whooping and dancing with the rest, my hand tight around a Bud tall boy, I feel like I am as much a part of the music as anything.

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