‘And This Is Free’ (1964)
May 14, 2014 1:24 PM   Subscribe

A 50 minute documentary about Maxwell Street Market and musicians in Chicago (I interpret the title with an implicit accusatory question mark.) Mike Shea—previously a photographer for Life, Look and Time—directed this exquisitely composed, Frederick Wiseman-esque documentary that lurches between the wiles and complaints of street vendors to some astoundingly well-recorded street side blues performances—recorded by Gordon Quinn. Most notably numerous songs by Robert Nighthawk and one electrifying performance by Carrie Robinson. There's also one seriously awesome-looking house party.

These and others featured on a CD release known "And This Is Maxwell Street" w/ Blind Arvella Gray , Fannie Brewer, Baby Face Leroy, Floyd Jones, and JB Hutto.

Shea would go on to be involved with the Film Group, who undertook other documentary projects in Chicago.
posted by zbsachs (10 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
And, Maxwell Street has been gone since about 6 years ago, made way for the UIC expansion.
posted by C.A.S. at 1:44 PM on May 14, 2014

Longer than 6 years, but irreplaceable still.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:55 PM on May 14, 2014

iirc Buddy Guy was discovered playing on the street in Chicago.
posted by thelonius at 1:59 PM on May 14, 2014

Love this, thank you...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 2:09 PM on May 14, 2014

Ooooh, good find! Thanks, zbsachs!

This post of mine on Maxwell Street from 2008 features lots of fantastic blues and street performance clips which are ALL now defunct, goddammit.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:42 PM on May 14, 2014

As seen in The Blues Brothers.
posted by TedW at 4:01 PM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Totally great video. Thanks for posting this. Looks like the Blues Brothers nailed the feel of it.

I remember a friend from college telling me that he knew of a fellow that ran a used car business. State law required that all of the cars on his lot had to be registered with the state. His solution? Go to Maxwell St. and buy a *roll* of Illinois State license plate stickers.
posted by readyfreddy at 5:58 PM on May 14, 2014

That was great.
posted by colie at 2:56 AM on May 15, 2014

'I'll overcome someday' at 24:10 is chilling. This documentary is amazing. I've always thought of Chicago as such a segregated place - economically and ethnically. It's nice to see different people together seemingly enjoying each other.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:30 AM on May 15, 2014

Damn, I miss Maxwell Street. Thanks for this.
posted by salix at 4:20 PM on May 16, 2014

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