DVD -- Orders -- Contact -- About Us -- Link
Original 1979 version
with more than three hours of extras



In 1978, Alan Lomax, Worth Long, and John Bishop took portable video cameras deep into The Land Where the Blues Began and collaborated with the Mississippi Authority for Educational Television to produce this program.
As Alan Lomax 's articulated our mission--

Today we give a platform to this vital folk culture and its creators. These people witnessed the birth of the blues. They lived them. This haunting music, laughing at life's ironies, and set to a dancing beat. This amazing mix of Europe and Africa is America's most distinctive song style. It's also the product of the folk culture of the Mississippi Delta.

We visit picnics and revivals. We meet the black pioneers who helped to carve Mississippi out of the wilderness with their work on farm, river, railroad and levee, creating a new music out of their loneliness and their deprivation. Music that, once heard, can never be forgotten.

The program features performances by Sam Chatmon, Jack Owens & Bud Spires, Eugene Powell (Sonny Boy Nelson), Belton Sutherland, Othar Turner, Napoleon Strickland, and Joe Savage.

Finished in 1979 and broadcast on PBS in 1980; the program won awards and played in numerous festivals. In 1990 was broadcast again on PBS, re-edited as part of the American Patchwork series. This DVD presents the original version with more than three hours of additional material, which has never been available before.

Contents (4 hours of video and two articles)-

The Land Where the Blues Began (59 min) with optional English subtitles
Video out takes of 2 hours of additional musical selections
The first edit of the levee camp interview (27 min)
Making The Land Where The Blues Began video (27 min)
Editing The Land Where The Blues Began video (5 min)
Alan Lomax introduction to the first broadcast (2 min)
Transcript of the program (PDF)
Making The Land Where The Blues Began article (PDF)

This is just a little taste of the 2 hours of musical performances from the DVD extras--

Festivals and Awards

  • 1980 Gabriel Award
  • 1980 Houston International Film Festival Golden Medallion 
  • 1980 American Film Festival Blue Ribbon
  • 1980 1st Bilan du Film Ethnographique, Musee de l’Homme, Paris
  • 1981 Global Village Festival
  • 1981 Margaret Mead Film Festival, New York
  • 1981 International Film and Television Festival (New York)
  • 1984 Anthropology Film Festival, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago
  • 1985 Melbourne International Film Festival
  • 1985 Royal Anthropological Institute Festival of Ethnographic Film. London

Reviews & Blogs

  • The strength of the film lies in the fact that viewers are essentially presented with the blues as oral histories rather than with a very detailed discussion of blues music per se. Thus, while viewers will gather a good deal of information about this musical tradition, they will also come away with a broader understanding of the society and conditions that gave rise to it. -Nora Groce, American Anthropologist
  • Ethnomusicology
  • Il Blues Alan Lomax Cacciatore di suoni di Matteo Bossi (in Italian)
  • Weenie Campbell
  • DENNIS ROZANSKI review in Blues Rag (Detroit)

2825 SE Harrison St, Portland, OR 97214
(503) 233-4047