***Live Perfomance and Commentary from the (Austin, Texas: East Side Blues)***
Where: The Victory Grill (1104 E. 11th St)
When: August 29th, 2008 from 7 PM to 11 PM
DiverseArts is pleased to announce a screening of Austin, Texas: East Side Blues, a 30 minute documentary piece produced by Harold McMillan and Sandra Carter that chronicles the careers and music of some of East Austin's pioneering Post-War blues and jazz musicians. Many of those featured in the film are now deceased and, for many, their recollections and performances survive only in the film and the archives of the Blues Family Tree Project. The event hopes to reunite some of the figures that helped shape the history of Austin blues, their loved ones, and others whose memories form one of the last records of this vitally important period in Austin's history.
The Victory Grill is much more than a venue for the event, it is a participant as well; as a core venue of the East Side music scene and host to gigs by such giants of the Austin blues/jazz scene as Grey Ghost, Martin Banks, James Polk, Ernie Mae Miller, T. D. Bell, Erbie Bowser, among others, its influence is palpable in the film. As the musicians share their memories, the Victory Grill's influence weaves throughout the narrative, intersecting with their personal histories. It is the site of veteran guitarist "Blues Boy" Hubbard's very first gig as a 1950s Austin newcomer, while another recalls fondly that it was "the swingin'est black club in East Austin" and that "everyone was going to the Victory Grill." The recent recognition of the East End as an African-American Cultural Heritage District, serves as a reminder that its history needs be unearthed and honored before it is lost forever.
A discussion panel will follow the screening of the documentary, featuring Eva Lindsey, current manager of the Victory Grill, Willis Littlefield, member of Austin's oldest performing gospel group, the Original Bells of Joy, James Kyrkendall, bandleader of the Texas East Side Kings and moderated by Dr. Martha Norkunas and Harold McMillan. Topics will cover the legacy of the East Austin music scene, the future of blues in Austin, the history and significance of the Victory Grill and the challenges of and strategies for preservation of Austin's African American cultural arts. The evening will end with a performance by the Texas East Side Kings, the current veteran all-star band that includes many of the remaining East Austin blues pioneers. Both the discussion and the performance will be filmed and incorporated into the Austin Blues Family Tree Project archive, a documentary project created to address the lack of archival sources for the cultures and institutions of East Austin which provided the footage for Austin, Texas: East Side Blues.
Please join us August 29th, for a rare chance to connect with Austin's past and to sponsor efforts to preserve this heritage for the future. Doors will open at 7 PM and a sliding-scale $5 to $10 donation is suggested.
*Digital still images and video clips (DVD) are available to media upon request.
This program is made possible in part by a grant from Humanities Texas, a State partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.