2017, Movies

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World (2017, Catherine Bainbridge, Alfonso Maiorana)

This is a survey of famous indigenous musicians to contribute to American popular music and their influence on music. Though a bit of a sponge when it comes to music history I definitely learned some stuff watching it.

The film covers the following prominent musicians with indigenous ancestry:

  • Charley Patton
  • Mildred Bailey
  • Link Wray
  • Buffy St. Maire
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Robbie Robertson
  • Jesse Ed Davis
  • Pat Vegas
  • Randy Castillo

It starts off with Link Wray, as you might expect, but then does the rest roughly chronologically. It’s a pretty episodic film, with segments about each musician from Bailey forwards through time. There’s also a section on New Orleans that isn’t focused on one particular musician.

The film gets some pretty big names to talk about these musicians (and a few others), it’s a pretty impressive array. It’s weird that there isn’t more from some of these people, as a few of the talking heads just contribute one or two lines.

in the early The film goes into some detail about the indigenous influence on the blues, and that’s where it’s the most interesting and informative. The whole section on Charley Patton and the section on the New Orleans scene are worth the price of admission. I wish the entire film had been like this.

The rest of the film is little more just brief portraits. And the film concludes with a bit of a eulogy for Randy Castillo, a personal friend of one of the talking heads (who is also an executive producer). Though it’s clear this part is heartfelt, it’s also the weakest part of the film.

I mostly enjoyed the film and I’m glad I watched it but I also could have used more. I feel like this topic is worthy of a miniseries, going into more detail about these artists and others, and more detail in the actual musical influence.


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