The American Folk Blues Festival Series
Reviewed by David Lynch, Fri., Dec. 24, 2004
The American Folk Blues Festival Series(HIP-O)
Popular music would be vastly different without The American Folk Blues series. The brainchild of two Germans, AFBF brought the best blues musicians to Europe every fall from 1962-70, where they taped live TV shows and packed concert halls. In the process, these musicians influenced the UK scene, which in turn set off the British Invasion and helped spark the blues resurgence in America. With the help of genre godhead Willie Dixon, AFBF organizers culled the best, including Koko Taylor, Buddy Guy, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Little Walter, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, Son House, Lightnin' Hopkins, Sunnyland Slim, Howlin' Wolf, Memphis Slim, T-Bone Walker, Otis Rush, Lonnie Johnson, Muddy Waters, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and John Lee Hooker. Compiled from 40-year-old tapes, the series is uniformly excellent, each of the three DVDs' volumes having their own strength. For some artists, these tapings were the only time they were properly documented on film. And thanks to the typical Teutonic emphasis on technical quality, the sound and B&W visuals are outstanding. The TV soundstages are contrived, and it's hard to imagine these artists playing for a more alabaster audience, but the music is magic. If there's a God, the series will continue.