The slogan of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is to “Engage, Teach and Inspire Through the Power of Rock and Roll.” 

The Rock Hall did exactly that on Thursday night as they showed the great documentary: Take Me to the River, which is about the Memphis music scene- past and present.

The Hall of Fame usually shows a series of movies and documentaries every year.  What made this event special was the panel discussion after the film that included the director of the movie Martin Shore, one of the producers and Hall of Fame guitarist from the Talking Heads, Jerry Harrison, and three of the films featured performers:  2017 Grammy winner Bobby Rush, Academy Award winner from Three 6 Mafia, Frayser Boy, and rapper Al Kapone.  

The unique thing about this film is not only did they focus on musicians from the past, but they had those older artists record newer versions of past hits with current hip-hop stars.  Snoop Dogg worked with William Bell, Bobby “Blue” Bland collaborated with Yo Gotti, and Bobby Rush teamed up with Frayser Boy, just to name a few.

You could really see the mutual admiration from both the younger and older artists.  I recommend you check this documentary out for yourself (it’s on Netflix).

The movie pointed out that race, age and gender really doesn’t have a place in music.  After the film, Harrison said that “music reaches across generations and races.  If you can play music, then you’ve got a friend for life.”  

Director Martin Shore said that they had to go over 3,000 hours of footage to create the 90 minute movie.  Producer Jerry Harrison noted that after they watched the initial version of the movie, he knew it had to be re-edited which ended up taking another year and a half to complete.  

Frayser Boy said that during the making this record was the first time that he had ever worked with a live band.  He was used to using samples and different beats.  Bobby Rush then told the audience the importance of making new music saying, “if we don’t start creating new music, there will be nothing left to sample!”

Bobby Rush, fresh off his first ever Grammy award, stated that he has been making music since 1951 and has put out over 300 records in his career.  He said that as far as he knows, he is the oldest living blues singer, pointing out that he is older than Little Richard and Buddy Guy.  

Incorporating Black History Month into the program, Rush noted how far we have come as a country.  He told a story where he and his band were set to play a gig in Illinois, saying “we had to play behind a curtain because they wanted to hear our music, but they didn’t want to see our faces.”

It’s unbelievable that something like that happened in our country less than 60 years ago.

Finally, as a special treat at the end of the program, Mr. Rush graced the audience with a few songs that featured his harmonica and guitar playing.

It was an evening where everyone in the crowd was engaged, educated and inspired.