Times - A Film by Damien Blaylock - Cat
by Andy Hall, Aug 2006
a nutshell: A documentary film containing interviews and live footage
of blues performer Big George Brock.
There have been some classic backstage moments in the genre of the
'rockumentary' - a youthful, chain smoking Dylan goofing around
and torturing the 'hip' young British journos in Pennebaker's Don't
Look Back... then there's Rob Reiner's Tap of course, all pumped
up and ready to rock, getting hopelessly lost on the way to the
stage in Cleveland. To these mighty moments, we can now add the
opening footage of Hard Times...
Big George Brock is pictured in a small white room, preparing for
his grand entrance while various people from his entourage fuss
around him. After much build-up and anticipation, an aide finally
helps him don his golden cape, and as George starts blowing harp,
he finally enters the venue. At this point, I have to confess I
was expecting a crowded, throbbing, jumping blues club, but instead
George staggers out to what looks like a quiet night at Brian Potter's
Phoenix club. It's a bizarre moment. The club looks like a staff
canteen or church hall, and it also looks mostly empty.
I'm not trying to knock Big George, or this film, but the opening
is a little (unintentionally) comical. However, when you realise
that the filmmaker's original intention was to produce a 10 minute
promo film, and that they expanded this to an hour long documentary
once they met George, you can understand the somewhat low budget
So the rest of the film pans out with reminiscences from Big George
interspersed with live footage of him playing with the Houserockers
(Riley Coatie's family band) amongst others.
He definitely comes across as a larger than life character. There
are tales of cotton picking (George cuts a dashing figure in hot
pink shirt and hat / dungaree combination), plus great stories of
life as a boxer, club owner and then latterly as blues artist. What
comes across is that George is a man who's existed on the fringes
of the big time for a long time. He proudly shows the beds where
Muddy Waters and Jimmy Reed slept after playing gigs at his club,
and how he gave Albert King a break as a young and upcoming player.
There's even a story from the boxing years, where Big George claims
to have floored Sonny Liston!
Whether or not these tales are all 100% true is unimportant, Big
George comes across as a decent bloke who's led a colourful, interesting
and sometimes tragic life. He now finds himself at 75, with recent
albums garnering very positive critical responses and even awards!
It must feel pretty strange to have come to this comparitive career
high point so late in life.
In conclusion, although a little rough around the edges, this film
is entertaining, contains great musical sequences, and the hugely
likeable figure of Big George makes it a worthwhile way to spend
DVD available from www.cathead.biz