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When I was a teenager the “World’s Largest Winnebago” was bringing a caravan of blues-devils to perform at the Vancouver Folk Festival. I headed to Jericho Beach hours before the opening act and spotted blues harmonica legend Frank Frost. Dressed up in polyester showman black, he was one of the blues-devils I dreamed of meeting. I nervously said “hi” … he said “Boy! Where’s the Liquor Store”? Off we went to the Kitsilano branch where he handed me an empty liquor box and proceeded to fill it up with 40’s of Vodka. After safely delivering the case of booze, I was christened an honorary roadie and spent the week inside that Winnebago listening to the most incredible blues music and stories. At the time, I wasn’t a filmmaker but this experience motivated me to become a documentary filmmaker and taught me the beauty of first person lived experiences, a story telling approach that my films are renowned for. So, today I am fulfilling a dream of mine in making this film about the last remaining blues-devils documenting their historic songs and fantastic stories, filming the last originals before time runs out.
Over the past 2 years I have filmed throughout Louisiana and Mississippi with many of the last original blues musicians, most of them in their 80s. Who, despite being inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, had to give up their music careers to get a job and make a living. Prejudiced against by the colour of their skin they were relegated to the ghettoised corners of society and largely forgotten. Today these musicians are once again being rediscovered and celebrated for their immense talent. As the last of the remaining blues-devils, they are not only busy recording and performing in the juke joints of the Chilin’ Circuit but also as headliners at music festivals around the world. With such immense life experiences they are important characters to document and help us better understand the last 100 years of American history. With their determination and ability to survive and flourish their life stories are testimonials that empower all of us. The musicians recorded in I AM THE BLUES are gifted storytellers who by singing the songs of their life are able to capture the raw imagery of humanity as only a blues song can.
They stole my heart. Let them steal yours.
– Daniel Cross