Eric Harabadian & Lisa Hagopian
Vision 561 Prod.
After you have lived in any metropolitan area for some length of time you begin to sense a certain rhythm that is the essence of the city. There are always sounds, smells, and visions that are unique experiences found nowhere else. Detroit Michigan USA is no exception. The smell of diesel fuel from the bus traffic, and the barbecue pits filling neighborhoods with sweet smoke. The Coney Island restaurants, and perhaps most distinct and important, the music.
Without ever finding it necessary to cross the city limit, you will have your choice of music to enjoy. On one block you will hear the booming voice of rap and hip hop. A mile down the road you may be uplifted by the open door of a small church and the rehearsal of a gospel choir. Someone in the car next to you will be blasting a country song from the radio. You wont get far without being caught up in the sweet sounds of one of the Motor City’s own Motown artists. Before your journey is over, you will be knocked out by what became the soundtrack to the real revolution of the 60s and 70s, the power and glory of Detroit rock & roll.
Without being aware of it, as you are hearing all of this, you are living and reliving the influences of the legendary work of the great Detroit Blues artists of the past 80 years racing over, under, around, and through every note. Perhaps, also when you consider the origins and history of the blues, you first think of the Mississippi Delta, Memphis, or Chicago, until now.
The multi award winning film Paradise Boogie may change your preconceptions of the conception of the blues today. The film is a musical document of the blues as it developed in a town undergoing change. Sometimes violent, always profound. The story is told in much the same fashion as the powerful work of Ken Burns, putting together historic footage, vintage recordings, libraries of black & white photographs, and live interviews with many of the surviving pioneers that created the sounds, as well as the active musicians who carry the torch today and into the future.
You may have heard the tales of Hastings Street, Oakland Avenue, Black Bottom, United Sound, and Fortune Records. You may be familiar with names like Sonny Boy Williams, Mr. Bo, Clyde Papa Lee, and Johnny Bassett. If not, this movie will be educational as well as entertaining.
Crucial to the story, it has laid the credit in the lap of the one who not only changed the sound of the blues forever, but also laid the ground work for rock & roll and all that has come with it, the great John Lee Hooker. Much of the film is devoted to stories of his musical legacy as told by artists who were fortunate to work with him. Hooker brought the boogie to life. Hooker brought the volume of electricity. Hooker brought the hook from Detroit and shared it with Muddy, Lightnin’, & Wolf, and everyone else.
Lisa Hagopian & Eric Harabadian put their hearts into this project and have brought forth a timeless documentation of an often overlooked and under appreciated chapter in the canon of the blues. It has been featured on PBS. They have taken this film to countless festivals across the country and internationally to unanimous acclaim. They have performed a great service to the City of Detroit, to artists and fans of the blues everywhere, and to the genre. It is a film all music lovers need to discover.
Reviewed by Joe Kidd – JKSB Media LLC