THEY ALL STOOD UP: The Life and Legacy of James Cotton

THEY ALL STOOD UP: THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF JAMES COTTON is currently in production with plans for a world premier in Spring 2020. It is an emotionally evocative feature documentary that portrays the untold story of James “Superharp” Cotton, a legend whose musical influence shaped the Chicago Blues style and beyond. Having been mentored by the originators of the Delta blues tradition, Cotton played a pivotal role in making the blues prominent in the evolution of the American roots sounds of the 20th century. The story brings to audiences a unique appreciation of the blues harp as part of American culture that became sophisticated and exported around the world, offering opportunities for musicians to transcend the restraints imposed by poverty and race. Cotton’s life tracks a swath of America’s history — from the post-depression cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta to tough Chicago-land era of artistic reinvention to today’s live music scene in Austin, Texas. Along the way Cotton played with Muddy Waters, toured with Janis Joplin, Steve Miller and became a sought after performer on stage with Led Zepplin, Paul Butterfield, the Grateful Dead, Jimmie Vaughan, Santana, B.B. King and Buddy Guy among many others. This film probes deeply the story of a man and his instrument that became a gift to the heart and soul of what it means to sing the blues.

Rarely seen archival footage and stills are woven throughout a visual landscape of original footage in which some of today’s finest harp and blues musicians lead us on a powerful journey, bringing a fresh and deep understanding of the harp in the expanding blues tradition. In new interviews and original concert recordings, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Vaughan, Steve Miller, Huey Lewis, Billy Branch, Annie Raines, Curtis Salgado, Kenny Neal, Rick Estrin, Bob Margolin, James Montgomery and many others bring Cotton’s story to life and leave us with an understanding of the lasting impact his music has imprinted upon our cultural heritage. Cotton’s unique mixture of high quality musicianship and seemingly boundless energy is an expression of an artist who became the ultimate showman and who made the world pay attention to the “harp” as a complex instrument with its own voice. This journey unfolds in a joyful, thumping original film through an exploration of harp-based blues music and stories shared by some of the most respected musicians.

Fundraiser on February 27 at the Regatta Bar

Funds raised at this event will help fund additional interviews and editing. Donations to The Reel Blues Fest, Inc., are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. All donors will be thanked by
name in the credits.

Director, Bestor Cram, Produced by The Reel Blues Fest, Inc. and Northern Light Productions.
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Contact: [email protected] or 508 495-3456

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