Film producer Anne Marie Hudak has launched a fundraiser through Kickstarter to raise money to finish up her documentary film on Detroit bluesman Uncle Jessie White. Fifteen years in the making, the movie needs cash to finish up post-production and editing so that the final product can be screened for the Detroit blues community and distributed through the Blues In The Schools program. It's a labor of love for Hudak - White was her piano teacher and friend - and the movie includes interviews with White's many friends and family, local Detroit musicians, DJs, and club owners as well as performance footage of the influential bluesman.
Born in the Mississippi Delta, White moved his family to the Motor City in 1950, where he quickly became a staple on the local blues scene. Seeped in the blues of the Delta, White made a name for himself playing the hardscrabble Detroit clubs and juke-joints. During the tumultuous days of the 1960s and '70s, White hosted blues jams that would often last for days, bringing black and white musicians and fans together, some traveling hundreds of miles to visit Uncle Jessie's home on Detroit's 29th Street. Even heavyweights like John Lee Hooker and Harmonica Shah would drop by the house to check out the scene.
Uncle Jessie didn't record much - I found only a single release to his name, 1991's Uncle Jessie White & the 29th Street Band album - as well as a handful of songs placed on various compilation albums. However, White's influence on the development of the Detroit blues scene is unquestioned and deep, and this documentary will cement Uncle Jessie's place as one of the Motor City's great bluesmen. Check out the film's Kickstarter page to watch a video about the project and to donate towards its completion.
Photo courtesy Blues Factory Records