The American Folk Blues Festival - The British tours 1963-1966

Hip-O Records

By Rachel Lee
May 2011

I found this excellent DVD at Newbury Comics. It is put out by Hip-O records and is the 4th installment of the Grammy-nominated series The American Folk Blues Festival. Filmed in black and white in Manchester and in London, you see in all their glory, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson among others at the height of the blues influence on British music.

Starting out is Sonny Boy Williamson II with his checkerboard smile showing off by half swallowing his harmonica and playing it hands free on “Keep it to Yourself.” Next, at the height of their fame, are Muddy Waters singing “I Got My Mojo Working” and Howlin’ Wolf doing the timeless “Smokestack Lightning.”

Then there is the rare footage of Big Joe Williams playing the 9 string guitar on “Baby Please Don’t Go.”

The footage also features the Chess studio musicians Willie Dixon on bass, Memphis Slim on piano, Hubert Sumlin on guitar and Jump Jackson on drums, backing up everyone (including a young sexy Sugar Pie De Santo) on the first part of this DVD.

I also loved that you got to see some great rare footage of Lonnie Johnson and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Last but not least, you see Junior Wells doing his best James Brown impersonation on Ray Charles’s “What’d I Say.”

Bonus tracks of Muddy Waters and Sister Rosetta Tharpe appear to be filmed at an outdoor train station in the rain. I gave this DVD as a Christmas present to a friend and we were both impressed by the great quality of the footage and deemed it a keeper.

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