Highway 61/PBS

Glenn Howze ghowze@AG.AUBURN.EDU
Tue Feb 6 14:54:05 EST 1996

The PBS special on Hiway 61 (the Blues Hiway) aired Sunday night in Alabama.
It was hosted by Levon Helms (BAND) and not Loudan Wainright III.  Helms
said that he was reared in the Delta on the Arkansas side.  Trip started in
Memphis and ended in N.O.  The major stop was Clarksdale.  Paid hommage to
Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, BB King, Sonny Boy Williamson, Bessie Smith
(She died in Clarksdale),etc.  Certainly worth watching.  Not enough music.
Used three well-known Mississippi writers to help tell the story--Willie
Morris, Shelby Foote and Eudora Welty.  All three were great.  Never saw a
juke joint.  Never  heard the music of Robert Johnson, Lonnie Johnson, Sonny
Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Big Bill Broonzey, etc.  For
folks who know something about the music and aomething about the Delta,
there were probably few problems. They could fill in the gaps.  For the
typical PSB viewer, it was not a complete story.  Lots went unsaid and
unshown.  But they only had an hour.  Can't expect everything.  A number of
scholarly books have been about the Delta music. Two of the earlist scholars
from the outside to recognize the importance of the Delta music were John
and Alan Lomax.  Alan Lomax's book detailing their work,  and the work of
others,  was published a couple of years ago.  How many musicians have
travelled on Hiway 61 trying to understand the magic that came out of  that


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