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Program Summaries
production credits

Smithsonian Institution
Presented on PBS by:Presented on PBS by South Carolina Educational Television
The Mississippi: River of Song

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4-hour television series

The Mississippi: River of Song Broadcast in January 1999 on PBS

John Junkerman, director/producer
Elijah Wald, writer
Paul Johnson, executive producer

The Mississippi: River of Song takes us on a musical journey from the headwaters in northern Minnesota to the river's mouth in the Gulf of Mexico. A portrait of the American musician emerges as we proceed down the river. There are internationally renowned and major label recording artists, pioneers and legends, young inheritors of the music, and there are those who make music simply for the pleasure of the community it creates.
       The strength of the footage lies in the authenticity of its detail, and the intimacy of its view of musicians' lives and work. Each scene conveys a sense of place and of regional culture. Each of the musicians adds his or her own strong character to that place, creating a whole that will captivate the viewer's imagination.
       All of the scenes were recorded live on location, each shot in a visual style and setting appropriate to its featured artist, from the formal elegance of Fontella Bass's duet with her mother in their church, to the rough spontaneity of the Bottle Rockets at their practice pad; from the edgy energy of Babes in Toyland at a crowded alternative club in the Twin Cities, to the down-home familiarity of a Cajun crawfish boil in D.L. Menard's backyard.

Program Summaries


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