BBC4 gets the blues this fall

UK pubcaster BBC4 is launching a season of blues-related programming in the fall, including docs Blues America, In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey (pictured), and a doc on Big Bill Broonzy.
November 7, 2013

UK pubcaster BBC4 is launching a season of blues-related programming this fall, including docs Blues America, In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey (pictured), and a doc on Big Bill Broonzy.

The first doc, Woke Up This Morning, will premiere on November 29 at 9 p.m. GMT, and is part of a two-part series called Blues America. Narrated by musician Huey Morgan and produced by documentarian Mick Gold, the series looks to highlight the secret history of American culture through the blues.

While part one sees Keith Richards, Taj Mahal, Chuck D. and Gold looking at the pivotal moments in the music genre’s development, part two, Bright Lights Big City, begins in post-war Chicago, Detroit and Memphis, with interviews from Richards, Bonnie Raitt, Seasick Steve and Buddy Guy. It airs on December 6.

Next up is Big Bill Broonzy: The Man Who Brought the Blues to Britain, the first film biography of Broonzy. Using rare footage, archive material and live performances, the doc traces the journey of the American who brought the blues to Britain in the 1950s. Interviews include Ray Davies, Richards, Pete Seeger, Martin Carthy, John Renbourn, Guy Davis and members of the Broonzy family.

James Cullingham’s In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey will air on December 8.  The Canadian-produced film looks at the guitarist Fahey, who blended blues, Indian and industrial music into his style.

The blues season will also include a BBC4 session with Raitt.

“The blues matter – it’s as simple as that – and I’m really pleased that we’ve been able to draw together such a fantastic range of programs that show just why they matter so much,” said Cassian Harrison, BBC4′s channel editor. “There are tears aplenty of course, but there’s even more to enjoy in what will be an incredible journey through some of the most seminal music of the 20th century.”

“Blues is at the heart of American music and American culture,” added Mark Cooper, head of BBC music television. “We wanted to make programs that didn’t sentimentalize the music but would explore the blues’ extraordinary journey between black and white audiences and musicians. That journey is key to understanding the American 20th Century and has also had a huge effect on British popular music.”

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.