Monday, May 05, 2008

Willie King - Down in the Woods (Visible World Films, 2008)

I became entranced by the music and lyrics of blues musician and activist Willie King with his extraordinary album Freedom Creek, and have been a fan ever since. This is his first DVD, containing an hour long documentary and about a half hour of musical performances. The main film is very interesting as it follows Willie throughout his rural Alabama hometown checking up on friends and neighbors and talking about his upbringing as a poor sharecropper. King is a courageous civil rights activist, and it is a very prominent moment in the film to accompany him to the former master's house of the sharecropping plantation, now lying in ruins, while he ruminates on community and the struggle for dignity. The film crew follows King to gigs at local community centers and schools as well as blues clubs and festivals. He is an inspiring figure who really lives the philosophy he espouses. The musical performances feature some of his activist songs like "Terrorized" and "America" and they show the unique trance like groove that King's music operates in. Somewhat akin to the Mississippi hill country music of R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough, but with a touch of gospel testifying. This was a very enjoyable and though provoking film both in its music and its message and is highly recommended to fans of the blues.

Send comments to: Tim