Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Celebration of Pinetop Perkins

Pianist Joe Willie ‘Pinetop’ Perkins keeps going, seemingly as musically vigorous in his nineties as much younger blues acts. Born in the Honey, The Pinetop Perkins Story is an hour-long bio-documentary produced by Peter Carlson who put together Don’t Start Me Talking: The Junior Wells Story. A narrative provides the details on Pinetop’s life including the circumstances of his youth and later emergence as a star on the blues circuit. Blended in are some stock still pictures of southern plantation, town and juke scenes, some acting to recreate Pinetop’s youth, along with interviews of Pinetop along with his admirers and some performance clips from a variety of shows including King Biscuit Festival, the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise and some footage of him with The Nighthawks. Admirers include his colleagues with Muddy’s band such as Paul Oscher, who recalled when Pinetop replaced Otis Spann in Muddy’s band and, guitarist Bob Margolin and drummer Willie Smith. Others talking about Pinetop include Lonnie Brooks, Bobby Rush who tells a hilarious story about Pinetop who had some wisdom for men out on the town, Ike Turner recalling Pinetop’s influence and stature as a pianist, and Kim Wilson. Its an affectionate and loving performance that is as ingratiating as its subject. The DVD does not have any extras and does not seem divided into chapters, for those who that matters. It also comes with a CD of live performances, mostly Chicago performances with one studio track from a Bob Corritore that covers the same ground as his available recordings with versions of Chicken Shack, Mojo, How Long Blues, Ida B and the rollicking Down in Mississippi. Pinetop affably handles the material backed by Little Frank Krokowski on guitar, Bob Stroger on bass and Willie Smith on drums. The packaging erroneously credits Pinetop for Memphis Slim’s Grinder Man Blues, and Magic Sam for Rosco Gordon’s Just a Little Bit, titled here Little Bit of Your Love. Certainly a documentary that fans of the blues, especially Pinetop’s fans, will certainly enjoy.

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