Music Documentary About Memphis Blues Festival Debuts on North American DVD and VOD Platforms on July 9, 2024

The Blues Society Still, Robert Wilkins
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A fascinating film is coming your way soon. If you love Jazz or history, this is especially for you. Freestyle Digital Media, the digital film distribution division of Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group, has acquired North American VOD rights to the music documentary THE BLUES SOCIETY, which will be available to rent/own on all digital HD internet, cable, and satellite platforms in North America, as well as on DVD, starting on July 9, 2024, through Freestyle Digital Media.

The Blues Society still Booker T. Washington White & Jimmy Crosthwait

Did you know Blues had its beginning in Memphis? Performers were hard working and mostly poor and not appropriately recognized, singing for the love of this music, telling stories that needed to be told.

THE BLUES SOCIETY is a feature-length documentary that reevaluates the life of a Memphis Country Blues Festival (1966-1970) through the lens of race, the counterculture of the 1960s, and the genre of Memphis blues. Narrated by Actor Eric Roberts, THE BLUES SOCIETY tells the story of blues masters Furry Lewis, Nathan Beauregard and Reverend Robert Wilkins. It’s also the story of a group of white artists from the North and the South who created a celebration of African American music in a highly segregated city. Reaching into the present, the film ends in a 2017 concert where John Wilkins returns to the stage that he last shared with his father, Reverend Robert Wilkins, 48 years earlier.

Fred McDowell, Credit: George Mitchell

Written, directed, and produced by Dr. Augusta Palmer, THE BLUES SOCIETY is narrated by actor Eric Roberts, and Co-produced by J. Tinneny. “I didn’t want to just make a concert film. Everyone can appreciate the unforgettable music in THE BLUES SOCIETY, but love for the blues didn’t cure white supremacy,” said filmmaker Augusta Palmer. “I wanted to recapture the idealism of the white organizers, but also to spotlight Black voices and reveal the paternalism in the 1960s blues revival. Structural racism has become much more visible to the nation since the pandemic. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.”

The Blues Society Still, Furry Lewis: credit to Norman Seiff

Festival co-founder and legendary music Executive Nancy Jeffries says, “Everyone remembers the 60s as a party, but there was a seriousness of purpose to what we were doing.” Furry Lewis worked for decades sweeping the city streets, so the efforts to recognize his musical accomplishments echo the 1968 Sanitation Strike, where each worker’s sign proclaimed “I AM A MAN,” underlining the racist refusal to honor African Americans’ basic humanity. Reaching into the present, the film ends in a 2017 concert where Rev. John Wilkins returns to the stage he last shared with his father 48 years earlier. What is the legacy of the Memphis Country Blues Festival, and who do the blues belong to in 2020?

Furry Lewis & Glade Koehler, 1968 (photo: Douglas Cupples)

The use of archival visual material is remarkable, the music is fascinating, the personalities are compelling. This brings the black/white story to front and center, and look at how many years this encompasses. Seeing this film is likely to change your understanding of the Blues. This film is powerful and important.


About Freestyle Digital Media

The digital distribution unit of Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group, Freestyle Digital Media, is a premiere multi-platform distributor with direct partnerships across all major cable, satellite, digital and streaming platforms. Capitalizing on a robust infrastructure, proven track record, and a veteran sales team, Freestyle Digital Media is a true home for independent films. Recent releases include THE ROAD DOG starring comedian Doug Stanhope, SURVIVE starring HBO’s GAME OF THRONES star Sophie Turner and Corey Hawkins, the music documentary profiling blues guitar legends Jimmie Vaughan and Stevie Ray Vaughan, BROTHERS IN BLUES, DEAR ZOE starring Sadie Sink from the hit Netflix series STRANGER THINGS, Jessica Capshaw and Theo Rossi. Other Freestyle Digital Media titles include BEST SUMMER EVER the teen musical featuring a fully integrated cast and crew of people with and without disabilities, produced by Jamie Lee Curtis, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson, THE WEDDING YEAR starring Sarah Hyland and Anna Camp, THE LAST PHOTOGRAPH starring Danny Houston, UNTOGETHER starring Jamie Dornan, Jemima Kirke, Ben Mendelsohn, Alice Eve and Billy Crystal, the action-comedy BETTER START RUNNING starring Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons and Maria Bello, THE BACHELORS starring Academy Award-winner J.K. Simmons, Julie Delpy and Odeya Rush and the award-winning documentary HONDROS produced by Jamie Lee Curtis and Jake Gyllenhaal.


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