Back in 1984, some producers for West German television produced a documentary about Blues music called “Survivors: The Blues Today.” I remember seeing it at the Cedar Cultural Center when I was a college student. What a nerd I was. I couldn’t help it though. Not only did I love Blues music, but this obscure documentary was filmed entirely at the old Wilebski’s Blues Saloon over in the Frog Town neighborhood of St. Paul. I had to go see it.
The movie has some great performances including some by local Blues bands at the time–Willie Murphy & The Bumble Bees and The Minnesota Barking Ducks. The movie also featured performances by John Lee Hooker, Dr. John and the Gravenites-Cipolina Band. This group featured Nick “The Greek” Gravenites–a long time 60’s blues and rock guy who wrote and produced songs for many artists including Janis Joplin and Paul Butterfield. He also was a founding member of the 60’s San Francisco group, The Electric Flag (which included Buddy Miles and Michael Bloomfield). John Cipolina was the lead guitar player for another old 60’s hippie band–Quicksilver Messenger Service.
There are not many clips out there from this old documentary. Every time someone posts a clip, the German producers file a cease and desist and the videos are taken down. For some reason, however, the two clips below remain on YouTube. You should check them out. Not only is it great to see video of the Minnesota Barking Ducks in their prime, but it is also cool to see the interior of the old Wilebski’s Blues Saloon.
If you like Blues and Rock N Roll music, then you might like The Fun Time Music Festival. A web exclusive music program on KFAI.org.