I’ve been going back and re-watching some blues music DVDs I’ve collected over the years and about half way through Martin Scorsese’s Lightning in a Bottle laid witness again to Shemekia Copeland and Robert Cray doing Bobby “Blue” Bland’s Pity the Fool. I’d forgotten just how marvelous and emotional this paring was. It comes close to the pairing (different DVD) of John Lee Hooker and Bonnie Raitt doing I’m in the Mood. There were moment’s in that duo when I thought film would go dark while this very old man and the red-head would go where the “mood” was taking them.
Another scene from Lightning was of Buddy Guy doing the Jimmy Hendrix song, Red House. The thing that caught my eye was a mega string bend Buddy did. He grabbed the bottom E and B strings and took them all the way to the 5th string and held them there for a sustain that seemed like it would never end. I’m pretty sure Buddy Guy doesn’t play with light strings making this feat requiring extremely powerful fingers and iron clad callouses. This is something professional players probably do all the time but there was just something about this bend that struck awe in me.
Lightning in a Bottle was filmed in 2003 as part of The Year of the Blues celebration. 2003 marked the hundredth anniversary of W.C. Handy’s supposed “discovery” of the blues at a railroad station in Tutwiler, Mississippi. That was nine-years ago and far too many of those who appeared in the film have passed on. I’m only glad I had a chance to see so many of them in live performances and that someone took the time to preserve their memories in DVD and other media formats.