Deep Sea Blues DVD
" DVD Blues Cruise "

A Cruise DVD with Too Much Talk and Not Enough Music (09/09/09)

Roger Naber has been producing Blues performances for three decades and came up with the Blues cruise concept to do shows on ocean liners setting sail to various locations around the world. Since its inception, Naber's vision has proven quite popular. In 2007 the well-known musical movie maker Robert Mugge was hired to direct and produce this edition of Naber's Blues cruise. Mugge has been involved with making movies since the early '90s.

All in all, there were seventy performances by fourteen musicians and/or bands during the eight-day extravaganza. Deep Sea Blues A Robert Mugge Film about the Legendary R&B Cruise delivers twenty of those performances (which I had to count myself, as there are no liner notes or track listings) by the likes of Bobby Rush, Commander Cody, Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials, Buckwheat Zydeco, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Mitch Woods, Mel Waiters and others.

The event seemingly is very laid back and sets the tone for a very casual event for both the adoring fans and the artists. Also contained are somewhat interesting segments by Naber and most of the artists who perform, but nothing to get excited about. The most entertaining talking segments come from Taj Mahal's cooking sessions, but otherwise offer little to elevate this erratic DVD.

Highlights include the opening performance by Tab Benoit. Michael Burks is aided by the small but propulsive veteran horn section of sax man Keith Crossan and trumpeter Tom Poole. The very attractive young Tasha Taylor (the daughter of the legendary soul-man Johnny Taylor) is backed by the Phantom Blues Band and delivers a very funkified performance that's hypnotic and delightful. Joey Gilmore's tune is smartly segued from two performances of the same song; part one from an outdoor set then shifts to an indoor setting where Gilmore is really on his game.

Unfortunately, Gilmore's stunning guitar solo is rudely interrupted by several commentary portions by a fan, Dick Waterman, Tommy Castro with Kim Wilson, and Naber. Sadly, Gilmore's performance including his solo never reappears, and we don't get to see the ending of his song. Otis Clay's large band delivers the goods, complete with a three-piece horn section with two background female singers. Yet the mood is broken with several commentaries from Clay. Note: Both Gilmore and Clay are presented in their entirety (with no interruptions) in the bonus section of this DVD as is a powerful and lengthy cover of "As the Years Go Passing By" by Michael Burks.

Fortunately, Ruthie Foster's captivating and soulful performance is uninterrupted. Tommy Castro's "Nasty Habits" is also quite strong and features the aforementioned Crossan and Poole as the percolating and punching horn section. Ronnie Baker Brooks jams on with Castro band and Deanna Bogart, but it's a relatively short segment that only includes Brooks' explosive solo. By the way, even though Taj makes several talking appearances, he's never is seen in performance.

Too much talk, not enough music. I know the intent is to be a documentary, but the constant commentaries are irritating and annoying. The sound quality is pretty thin, too, plus I've seen far better video work. There are some fine moments included, but for the most part you will need to have the remote control in your hand to make what could have been a cool video more entertaining.

Bob Putignano a senior contributing editor at BluesWax. He is also the heart of Sounds of Blues at Bob maybe contacted at:

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