Journey Through American Music Episode 2: Traveling Blues

2008 • 0h 46m

Episode 2 of a musical journey through the origins of American music presented by Morgan Freeman. Each episode mixes documentary and performance whilst retracing the roots of American music and features performances at Montreux from such legendary artists as Muddy Waters, Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Al Green, Carlos Santana, and Eric Clapton.

Oscar-winning actor and avid blues fan, Morgan Freeman, hosts a fascinating program exploring how the blues has developed and diversified from the 1960s onwards, and in the process played a huge role in shaping the face of rock music. He begins with the British blues boom of that decade which saw many white musicians pick up the blues baton: musicians such as Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, and Eric Clapton, born thousands of miles from the birthplace of the blues in the Mississippi Delta.

Clapton is featured here in live footage recorded at the world-famous Montreux Jazz Festival. Clapton’s contemporaries in the 1960s included Jimi Hendrix with his blues from outer space and Carlos Santana's fluid, Latino-blues. We see Santana jamming with the Saharan band, Tinariwen, whose hypnotic sound takes us right back to the very roots of the music in Africa—the mother continent. Other players, whose contributions to the blues in more recent times are celebrated, include Robert Cray's soulful, funky take on the idiom and Sweet Honey In The Rock’s experimental, a cappella blues-gospel.

More recently still, Freeman showcases the rocky, punky sounds of Jon Spencer's Blues Explosion, who in turn influenced The White Stripes; and the hip-hop/blues combination delivered by actor-musician Chris Thomas King. Lively analysis and insight come from King himself, from Speech of the hip-hop group, Arrested Development, from musician G Love, and from Eric Clapton’s favorite player, the legendary blues guitarist BuddyGuy, who many cite as the first rock guitar hero.