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Blood and Soil

Episode 2 of 4

Series telling the stories of the pioneers of American roots music. The second episode explores gospel, the songs of the coal mines and the Mississippi Delta blues.

This episode takes a look at the stories of those early music pioneers whose names have largely been forgotten.

In the small South Carolina town of Cheraw, Elder Burch held lively church gatherings which inspired young musicians - including jazz giant Dizzy Gillespie. Gillespie's autobiography cites Burch and his sons as direct inspirations; it is no exaggeration to say that modern music would not look the same without Burch's early influence.

The programme takes a look at the gritty songs and musicians that came from the coal mines of Logan County, West Virginia - The Williamson Brothers, Dick Justice and Frank Hutchinson. The hellish conditions of the coal mines inspired them to find a way out, through their music.

Finally we head to the home of the blues - the Mississippi Delta, where Charley Patton captured the sounds and struggles of life in the cotton fields. Patton's significance cannot be understated; he is widely considered the most influential musician in the birth of blues, teaching some of the best blues artists that followed including Howlin' Wolf, Robert Johnson and Honeyboy Edwards.

60 minutes

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:02

    Brian Eno

    Another Green World

  • 00:03

    Brian Eno

    Another Green World

  • 00:22

    Dick Justice

    Henry Lee

  • 00:34

    Howlin’ Wolf

    Howlin' Wolf Talks #1

  • 00:35

    Charley Patton

    Mississippi Boweavil Blues

  • 00:35

    Charley Patton

    Shake it and Break it

  • 00:37

    Charley Patton

    High Water Everywhere (Part 1)

  • 00:44

    David Edwards

    Water Coast Blues

  • 00:46

    Charley Patton

    Going To Move To Alabama

  • 00:54

    Joe Falcon

    Lafayette (Allons A Lafayette)

  • 00:55

    Mississippi John Hurt

    Avalon Blues


Role Contributor
Narrator Robert Redford
Director Bernard MacMahon
Producer Bernard MacMahon
Series Editor Anthony Wall
Producer Allison McGourty
Producer Duke Erikson
Executive Producer T Bone Burnett
Executive Producer Robert Redford
Executive Producer Jack White
Production Company Lo-Max


Featured in...

BBC Music Presents… Arena: American Epic

BBC Music Presents… Arena: American Epic

Extracts and performances from a series celebrating the pioneers of American roots music.