Two Trains Runnin’
Impact | VIFF Impact
You had to be very brave or very foolish to venture into Mississippi in the summer of 1964. The civil rights movement was coming to a boil. But three East Coast music enthusiasts had their minds on something quite different: the long-forgotten Delta blues man Son House. Meanwhile on the West Coast, another group of young men—including the guitarist John Fahey—embarked on a very similar quest: tracking down Son House contemporary Skip James. Neither group knew about the other, nor did they anticipate the murderous temper of the times down South, where black activists’ strategy of enlisting white student support was beginning to make an impression on the national consciousness, to the fury of segregationists.
If it were fiction you wouldn’t believe how these strands converge, but Sam Pollard’s rousing documentary laces music, history and politics with the reminiscences of the once-young blues fans (who can scarcely believe it themselves) into a richly satisfying tapestry that resonates with today’s Black Lives Matter movement. Pollard uses animated sequences to takes us back into sixties, a ploy that pays off handsomely, and has enlisted some of today’s best blues practitioners to comment in song, including Buddy Guy, Gary Clark Jr, Lucinda Williams, Valerie June, the North Mississippi Allstars and more.