The Land Where the Blues Began is one of five films made from footage that Alan Lomax shot between 1978 and 1985 for the PBS American Patchwork series (1991). A self-described "song-hunter," Alan Lomax traveled the Mississippi Delta in the 1930s and 40s, at first with his father John Lomax, later in the company sometimes of black folklorists like John W. Work III, armed with primitive recording equipment and a keen love of the Delta's music heritage. Crisscrossing the towns and hamlets, jook joints and dance halls, prisons and churches, Lomax recorded such greats as Leadbelly, Fred McDowell, and Muddy Waters, all of whom made their debut recordings with him.
In the late 1970s Lomax returned with filmmaker John Bishop and black folklorist Worth Long to make the film The Land Where the Blues Began. Shot on video tape, the film is narrated by Lomax and includes remarkable performances and stories by Johnny Brooks, Walter Brown, Bill Gordon, James Hall, William S. Hart, Beatrice and Clyde Maxwell, Jack Owens, Wilbert Puckett, J. T. Tucker, Reverend Caesar Smith, Bud Spires, Belton Sutherland, and Othar Turner The Association for Cultural Equity’s Alan Lomax Archive channel on YouTube additionally streams outtakes from this film: other strong performances by Walter Brown, Sam Chatmon, Clyde Maxwell, Jack Owens, Joe Savage, Bud Spires, Napoleon Strickland, and Othar Turner. Turner is also in Gravel Springs Fife and Drum on Folkstreams.
Alan Lomax's book by the same title won the 1993 National Book Critics Award for nonfiction.
More About This Film
- Land Where the Blues Began transcript from captioning work
- About the American Patchwork Series
- The Land Where the Blues Began--Transcription
- Worth Long
- About the Association for Cultural Equity
- Preface to The Land Where the Blues Began book
- Artist Bios, Land Where the Blues Began
- Selected Readings
- Selected Discography
- Selected Filmography, Land Where the Blues Began
- Blue Ribbon, American Film Festival.
- Blues Houseparty1989 | 57mins
- Blues Like Showers of Rain1970 | 31mins
- Deep Ellum Blues1985 | 10mins
- Sonny Terry Whoopin the Blues1969 | 13mins
- Sonny Terry: Shoutin' the Blues1969 | 5mins
- Step It Up and Go: Blues in the Carolinas0
- Toot Blues2009 | 1h 14mins
- Dreams and Songs of the Noble Old1991 | 58mins
- Battle of the Guitars1985 | 16mins
- Nothing to Prove2009 | 1h 27mins
- Sonny Ford, Delta Artist1969 | 41mins
- Give My Poor Heart Ease1975 | 21mins
- Let the World Listen Right2006 | 29mins