These photographs document George Mitchell's trip to Mississippi, where he searched for then unrecorded blues musicians including R. L. Burnside, Jessie Mae Hemphill, and Othar Turner. This journey yielded recordings of music now on cherished and touted albums and CDs. From Mitchell's fieldwork many others discovered the region and its distinctive style of blues. Some of the musicians
Mitchell recorded had their lives transformed following his visit.
though waning, part of their community and blues musicians were viewed with respect and pride.
Blues musicians brought pleasure and release to people wrestling with severe poverty and pervasive discrismination.Mitchell's ability to connect with his subjects is evident in his arresting images. The musicians
and their families and friendswelcomed him in their homes and at rent parties and fife and drum picnics. They posed for portraits. They let him hang around with his camera while they cooked supper or danced up a storm. The book includes Mitchell's interviews, conducted at the time he took the photos, with four of the musicians, who talk about their music, their lives, and the times in which they live. Running throughout is the author's recounting of his experience of the seminal musicological odyssey.
About the Author
George Mitchell, Fort Myers, Florida, conducted field research and recorded blues musicians from the 1960s into the 1980s in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee. He also produced blues concerts, festivals, and television programs. He has published seven books of photographs and edited interviews.