Freestyle Digital Media’s ‘The Blues Society’ to be released on VOD

“The Blues Society,” a documentary that unpacks the Memphis Country Blues Festival, will be released on video on demand in July. 

The film, which is narrated by actor Eric Roberts, “reevaluates the life of the Memphis Country Blues Festival (1966-1970) through the lens of race, the counterculture of the 1960s, and the genre of Memphis blues,” according to a press release. Written, directed and produced by Dr. Augusta Palmer, “The Blues Society” tells the story of blues masters Furry Lewis, Nathan Beauregard and Rev. Robert Wilkins. 

The film also examines “a group of white artists from the North and the South who created a celebration of African American music in a highly segregated city. Reaching into the present, the film ends in a 2017 concert where John Wilkins returns to the stage that he last shared with his father, Reverend Robert Wilkins, 48 years earlier,” per the release. 

“The Blues Society” will be available to rent/own on all digital HD internet, cable and satellite platforms worldwide, as well as on DVD, on July 9. The film is available through Freestyle Digital Media, the film distribution division of Allen Media Group, whose founder, chairman and CEO, Byron Allen, owns theGrio.

“I didn’t want to just make a concert film. Everyone can appreciate the unforgettable music in ‘The Blues Society,’ but love for the blues didn’t cure white supremacy,” filmmaker Palmer said. “I wanted to recapture the idealism of the white organizers, but also to spotlight Black voices and reveal the paternalism in the 1960s blues revival. Structural racism has become much more visible to the nation since the pandemic. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.”

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J. Tinneny co-produced the film alongside Palmer. The music documentary screened at film festivals and theaters across the country — including the Firehouse: DCTV’s Cinema for Documentary Film, Three Rivers Arts Festival, and the Light Reel Film Fest — through May and June. Next up, “The Blues Society” will screen at the Hollywood Theatre in Portland on July 1. Freestyle Digital Media negotiated the deal to acquire “The Blues Society” with Cultural Animal, LLC and Glen Reynolds of Circus Road Films.

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