From the Publisher
A must-have for anyone interested in the blues. . . . Provides a complete portrayal of blues culture. An accessible book that will appeal to anyone interested in American music and culture. . . . Highly recommended.--Choice
A captivating and diverse multimedia experience for fans and scholars of the blues and gospel music. . . . Highly recommended for anyone interested in the blues or Southern history.--Library Journal starred review
[Ferris] is a hero for blues lovers and folklorists the world over….There is much to love about this collection….Without a doubt, this wonderful multimedia set is necessary for any comprehensive blues collection.--Arkansas Review
This book, CD and DVD all contain living history as it rolled out thirty or more years ago, when blues music was part of rural black family life. . . and we have the unlikely opportunity to take a meandering ramble through and closely observe the lives of the tellers.--Blogcritics
An autobiographical account and, more importantly a transcription of the recollections, which Ferris recorded in the 1960s and '70s. . . . The book comes with a set of Ferris' original field recordings on CD. . . . [and] a DVD that collects the documentary files Ferris shot.--Memphis Flyer
The DVD supplement. . . . Capture[s] images and actions that are seen nowhere else. . . . [They] may be Ferris's best and his most accomplished works.--ARSC Journal
A beautiful memorial to Mississippi African Americans and their lost world [and] a tribute to the folklorist who captured their stories and songs for posterity.--The Journal of Southern History
[A] blues goldmine.--Carolina Arts & Sciences
Ferris reaches beyond the dry, [dispassionate] cataloguing of regional history and traditions to tell the very personal story of his own education and the lives of the remarkable teachers . . . that he met along the way.--GoMemphis
Captures the cadences of [the musicians'] spoken voices and the stories of their lives, and the DVD and CD that accompany the book allow us to hear their music. . . . If the unhealed wound of injustice is everywhere present in these stories, many of the people telling them, like Ferris himself, have refused to see their lives reduced to race and stubbornly resist despair.--Harper's Magazine
In the 1960s and '70s, American history professor Ferris (Blues from the Delta) crossed and re-crossed Mississippi to document the rich history of its iconic blues music; here, years of work pay off in an illuminating, transporting volume. One of the freest, most elastic musical genres, the blues are based in slave songs and spirituals, and, decades before punk, established the original DIY aesthetic: an aggressively homegrown, independent, and individual sound that reasserts itself with each new telling and teller. That spirit is expertly captured Ferris's collection of testimonies. The unvarnished words of musicians, faith healers, religious leaders, and other Mississippians provide not so much a contiguous history as a series of isolated encounters with the genre's myriad influences, in which views on art, race, religion, piety, and injustice stand on their own feet. A trained folklorist, Ferris skillfully (and invisibly) mimics the casual, immediate nature of blues music, building his own composition from testimony that is in many ways irreducible; those seeking more context will find the final two interviews, with Willie Dixon and B.B. King, provide a more straightforward account of the genre's evolution. An accompanying CD/DVD contains Ferris's original audio recordings and film footage. 42 b&w photos.
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Distinguished folklorist and blues scholar Ferris (senior associate director, Ctr. for the Study of the American South, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) has crafted a captivating and diverse multimedia experience for fans and scholars of the blues and gospel music. Supplementing and expanding upon his 1978 book, Blues from the Delta, he here presents transcriptions of stories he captured via films and recording devices from the 1960s and 1970s of Mississippi blues practitioners, preachers, and Parchman Prison inmates. The enclosed CD and DVD bring the package together with stories, blues songs, and gospel recordings. B.B. King and Willie Dixon are the most famous artists included, but the stories of desperately poor sharecroppers and ex-inmates are just as engrossing. The comprehensive bibliography is a great resource. In addition to Ferris's books, libraries may want to consider Alan Lomax's classic The Land Where the Blues Began. VERDICT Ferris's new book is highly recommended for anyone interested in the blues or Southern history. [See also "Editors' Fall Picks," p. 24.]—Todd Spires, Bradley Univ., Peoria, IL