Friday, January 03, 2014


At long last, I've finally gotten all my (administrative, bureaucratic and legal) ducks in a row and I am now able to share with you the documentary film that my student Sophie Osella and I made several months ago: WORKING IN MEMPHIS. Last summer, I posted periodically about our process of making the film here on this blog, but the 14+ hours Sophie and I were working every day made it practically impossible for me to keep up with the blogging or to tell the whole behind-the-scenes story.  Trust me, there are a thousand amazing stories behind the making of this film.  If you want to hear them, I invite you to come to Memphis, accompany me to a show of one these amazing musicians, buy me a drink and let me regale you with The Awesome.

There just aren't words adequate enough to capture the unbelievable admiration, the undying respect or the unconditional love that I have for the artists featured in this film, each of whom were so very patient, so very kind and so very tolerant of Sophie and I while we pushed ourselves all-up-in-their-bizness during our filming of their interviews and live shows over the course of a couple months. As is evident in our film, the Beale Street community is a family with a long history and a lot of love.  They welcomed us into that family with open arms and with no objections, and I cannot possibly thank them enough. So, let me just say in advance:

For those of you who live in Memphis: GET OFF YOUR ASS AND SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ARTISTS!

It's really this simple:  "Art" is that one thing, maybe the ONLY thing, that we humans do that has no obvious utilitarian value.  We don't do it because it feeds us or shelters us or protects us from enemies.  We do it because we are a very special kind of animal that needs, wants and loves to create (sometimes beautiful, sometimes terrible) things to share, things that make us laugh and cry and sing and dance, things that enliven our imagination, things that elevate our everyday minutiae to a level that encourages us to believe the mundane can be transcended and, most importantly, things that connect us to one another.  If you can't take some of those stupid little paper bills out of your pocket and support that  when you see it happening right before your very eyes, if you can't support the human creation of beautiful art, then you've really missed the whole point of being a human being.

Special thanks to all the musicians who made this film possible, including: Earl "the Pearl" Banks, Brad Birkedahl, Ralo "the Rock" Brown, Patrick Dodd, Jesse Dotson, Coleman Garrett, Joyce Henderson, Matt Isbell, Eric Lewis, Suavo Jones, Natalie James, Vince Johnson, Chris McDaniel, Steve Newman, Jeremy "Mr. 88" Powell, Clyde "the Slide" Roulette, Linier Smith, Don Valentine, Nicole "MS Nickki" Whitlock, Ruby "The Queen of Beale Street" Wilson, Verlinda Zeno, The Memphis BluesMasters, The Plantation AllStars, Ghost Town Blues Band, The Memphis Three, and anyone else that I may have forgotten.

Here it is: WORKING IN MEMPHIS.  (I recommend you watch it in full-screen, of course.)  Enjoy!

Working in Memphis: A Documentary from Leigh Johnson on Vimeo.

1 comment:

Cynthia said...

Cool! I can't wait to watch it! I discovered a post this morning from your blog and made a comment; and realized that it was from 6 years ago! So now I am looking at your recent posts.....I am looking forward to seeing this documentary....congratulations!