Mercurial Son - DVD

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Mercurial Son - DVD

Postby blueswriter » Sun May 29, 2005 7:54 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON May-29-05 AT 06:29 PM (EST)]Lurrie Bell
Mercurial Son - The Blues Of Lurrie Bell
A Film By Paul Marcus (2005) ... -copy2.jpg
(Photo © Susan Greenburg)

DVD, color, 103 minutes. Highly recommended. Lurrie Bell is no stranger to the blues; he was born with the music coursing through his veins and he's lived a blues life in every sense, for better or for worse. The son of elder statesman and harmonica wizard, Carey Bell, Lurrie's parents parted ways in the 1960s, and Lurrie's relationship with his father has been an on-and-off-again one for years. The young guitarist began making a loud and resounding racket in the later 1970s as part of The Sons Of Blues, a band that included harp player Billy Branch and bassist Freddie Dixon. Unfortunately, following critcal acclaim after the band's debut on the Alligator Living Chicago Blues series, Lurrie's career took a sharp detour as he was beset with both mental illness and drug addiction. Throughout the 1980s and into the next decade, Lurrie recorded a number of albums for domestic and foreign labels with most showing him to be an artist of amazing creativity and heights, but his recurring problems took their toll. Often homeless during these lean years, living in basements or flophouses, Lurrie would show up at a number of Chicago haunts with borrowed guitar in hand, and somehow manage to reach deep inside and put on a display of ferocious playing ability and world-weary vocals, and as soon as he'd unstrap the guitar, he'd slink back off into the night not to be seen again for weeks at a time. Because of his issues, recording and performing opportunities slackened - he was unreliable at best - at worst he'd be a no-show. Lurrie's meeting and lengthy relationship with photographer Susan Greenburg was when the artist began turning his life around. Enter Paul Marcus, who filmed this story in stark fashion beginning in 2002, and followed Bell's up-and-down life for the next two years. Lurrie Bell and Susan Greenburg are captured in gripping reality with Marcus filming in the couple's Chicago home, and while it's a true gift watching Bell once again ignite a failing career, there is a deep and profound sadness as Greenburg helps Lurrie pull his pants up, stand tall, and return to active performing. While you see Greenburg's heady influence on Lurrie as he comes to grips with his addictions and attempts to remain clean, there are countless scenes of the guitarist returning from the local liquor store with a cold, Old Style longneck six-pack in hand. As much as there is a triumphant tone to this story (in parts), the events Bell and Greenburg endured are those which no one should have to deal with. Lurrie's name, reputation, and talents brought more to the film in the way of guests; Carey Bell, Bruce Iglauer, Steve Cushing, Bob Koester and others appear recalling the highs, lows, and middle ground of this exceptional guitarist. Bonus footage includes full-length performances from Maxwell Street in 1994 with Sweet Little Angel and A Man And The Blues, both gut-wrenching slow blues, and from Buddy Guy's Legends club in 2003, a brilliant take on Cleo's Back. The shortfall is that Marcus was unable to follow Bell any longer than he did. Had Marcus been able to continue with his project, we'd see a man who took it upon himself, as of last October, to completely rehabilitate himself. Lurrie Bell has recharted his course (thanks in large part to Susan Greenburg), and as of the present, he's clean, sober, and focused on continuing his life as a blues artist of explosive abilities. A deep and well-crafted look inside a world we often don't see, Mercurial Son - The Blues Of Lurrie Bell, is a wonderful and telling story of a man and the blues.

Lurrie Bell:

Special thanks to Susan Greenburg for bringing things up-to-date and for allowing use of her photograph for this review. While the DVD artwork is not yet available, Greenburg's photo is the image used for the DVD's cover.)

© 2005 by Craig Ruskey
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RE: Mercurial Son - DVD

Postby mikedev » Tue May 31, 2005 11:02 am

I saw Lurrie Bell at Kingston Mines in Chicago a couple of years ago and he was GOOD! I also had the pleasure of speaking to him and I guess Susan, a very nice lady who obviously care for him ver much indeed.

I now have a number of his albums and now can't wait to get this DVD.

The guy is great.

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