December 7th, 2007
Title: Gettin’ Up: Live at Buddy Guy’s Legends, Rosa’s, and Lurrie’s Home
Artists: Carrie and Lurrie Bell
Format: DVD, NTSC Region Free Coding, PCM 24-bit/48 kHz Stereo
Catalog No.: DVD1791
Gettin’ Up documents one of the last performances by blues harmonica legend Carey Bell (1936 – May, 2007). Bell was born in Macon, Mississippi, and began playing harp at the age of eight. He eventually made his way to Chicago where he fell under the influence of harp masters Little Walter and Big Walter Horton as he began to play the club circuit. Bell went on to found quite a musical family, and several of his 15 children became blues musicians themselves. Carey Bell has been recording since 1969, and his son Lurrie, a guitar player, first appeared on one of his studio albums in 1977. The live performances featured on this disk bring the two back together to demonstrate their unusual synergy.
The disk features three different dates – Rosa’s Lounge (July 27, 2006); Buddy Guy’s Legends (October 21, 2006); and a set of intimate duets with just the two Bells recorded at Lurrie’s home (July 28, 2006). At Rosa’s they are joined by Roosevelt Purifoy (piano), Bob Stroger (bass), and Brian “BJ” Jones (drum set). At Legends the two Bells are complemented by Scott Cable (guitar), Joe Thomas (bass), and Kenny Smith (drum set).
Gettin’ Up is a remarkable collection of musical gems – every tune on the disk carries the mark of Carey’s and Lurrie’s seemingly telepathic reading of each others’ musical thoughts, backed by two stellar groups of musicians. They open the date at Rosa’s with “What My Mama Told Me,” jumping right in with Carey’s characteristic vibrato-laden harp attack and heavy chordal riffing over Lurrie’s punctuated rhythm playing, effortlessly-phrased answering leads, and conversational solos. Carey’s voice is also at its expressive peak, and is flexible enough to belt out sandpaper renditions of classic blues tunes like Little Walter’s “Last Night” as well as original tunes like his “Gettin’ Up,” (which he wrote just before the Rosa’s Lounge gig after falling and breaking his hip). Lurrie chimes in on vocals a bit, too, however, with a driving version of the classic “Baby Please Don’t Go,” and a soulful solo rendition of the gospel favorite “Stand By Me” that closes the disk. The energy of the Rosa’s and Legends dates is infectious, but the two Bells at home in Lurrie’s living room feeding off of nothing but each other’s vibes is, to me, the highlight of the film.
In Gettin’ Up, Director Tom Koester has put together a disk that both visually highlights the synchronicity of the Bells (through effective use of multiple camera angles and occasional split-screen shots of the two) and captures the vibrant context through techniques like camera cuts to the audience dancing and singing along and the signed guitars hanging on the walls of Legends. Not only does the film look great, but it sounds beautiful, to boot – it was recorded at a high res 24 bit, 96 kHz, with audio options for standard stereo, Dolby Surround, and DTS Surround playback. The difference is notable, and the instruments all sound clear and well-balanced, with spacious panning. In addition to these audio options, the disk also comes with a well-crafted insert by Bill Dahl with complete track listing, chapter markers for navigating to each tune on the disk, and special features that include an interview with Carrie and Lurrie, a detailed discography, and a preview for the Delmark DVD Tail Dragger: My Head is Bald (which is as much about the Chicago Blues club scene – and Vern’s in particular – as it is about that legendary artist and notable guests).
Gettin’ Up is a worthy tribute to the legacy of two incredible bluesmen, and will likely convince you that the Bells deserve a place among the ranks of much better-known blues artists. The audio recording is also available on CD (Delmark DE 791).
For further information:
Chicago Blues: Portraits and Stories
There is no end to writing about the blues, and Chicago blues in particular, but this book by David Whiteis is one of the sources Bill Dahl used in his liner notes for Gettin’ Up.
The Big Book of Blues: A Biographical Encyclopedia
Written by Robert Santelli, Dahl also used this handy reference in compiling his liner notes for the disk.
Posted by Anthony Guest-Scott
Review Genre(s): Blues