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Memphis '69
by Karen Pecota

The 1969 edition of Memphis County Blues Festival, in its fourth season, took place in the city's Overton Park. A resurgence to celebrate blues jazz artists in an open air concert venue was for a new generation. The '69 concert promised their fans the biggest and the best to showcase. The event did not disappoint.

Filmmaker Joe LaMatiina takes unearthed archival footage from Gene Rosenthal almost fifty years later to bring to life one of the most memorable Blues Festival of the 1960s in Memphis '69. LaMattina says, "This documentary feature is truly an American artifact. Even people who are not blues fans will instantly come to love and appreciate these artists as I now do."

The 1969 Festival featured artists Rufus Thomas & The Bar-Kay's, Bukka White, Nathan Beauregard,Sleepy John Estes & Yank Rachel, Joann Kelly & Backwards Sam Firk, Son Thomas, Lum Guffin, Rev. Robert Wilkins & Family, John Fahey, Jefferson Street Ju Band, Insect Trust, John D. Loudermilk, Furry Lewis, Piano Red, Moloch, Johnny Winter, The Salem Harmonizers, Mississippi Fred McDowell.

Fat Possum Records presents Memphis '69 in collaboration with Gene Rosenthal's passion project that he wondered if it would ever come to fruition. Rosenthal, a Maryland-based folklorist, archivist and record company head began recording blues acts in and outside of the studio in 1964. He launched his Adelphi label a few years later and the artists he cut would be among the lineup for the 1969 Memphis County Blues Festival. It was the perfect venue to showcase the most incredible blues talent and attract the most amazing audience to appreciate the artists hours on end. Rosenthal, a recording engineer and film buff documented the festival on tape and on film so this event would never be lost.

LaMatiina's interpretation of the open air festival presenting Rosenthal's amateur filmmaking is a delightful journey back in time in celebration of what The 1969 Memphis Country Blues Festival had to offer.