Thursday, March 28, 2013

MEL BROWN TRIBUTE FILM talks with Rob Ring about his film project dedicated to the legendary Mississippi blues master - the late Mel Brown. 

Mel Brown was a master musician, a musician's musician. He was able to charm the souls of any listeners who wanted to vibe on his guitar riffs or twinkle to his ivory key strokes. I even had the privilege to witness Mel play a harp one night and like an old world snake charmer, he had the audience trapped in his voodoo blues spell.

This CBBlues stream includes the trailer of the film, my interview with Rob Ring and some memorable photos of the man = Mel Brown. 

I didn't know that Mel and I would become unlikely friends, but we did. I remember the one time I asked Mel be a guest star on my popular radio program at CKWR. In he strolled, as I never saw Mel ever walk fast, with a large gym bag as though he was off to the squash courts. Reaching into the bag, he pulled out a variety of different musical cassette tapes. He explained how he had contributed to each one of the cassettes with a bit of guitar here or a bit of piano there. It was an amazing show and I probably have the cassette tape I made of that show somewhere in my raffle of long lost stuff, which had to stay in Canada due to my migration to sunny Spain. 

It was a blast from the past to chat with Rob Ring this week, who is the editor of this ground breaking film. He describes the film as a compelling look into the life of the man, his music and the traditions of blues music. I am so excited to see it!!!!

Keep it Real,
Karla D


  1. Although the documentary Love Lost & Found is subtitled The Story of Mel Brown, it could just as easily be called The Impact of Mel Brown In The Heart of Southwestern Ontario.

    The heart of the film, in fact, focuses on how Mel affected the lives of musicians in this community and how central he was to the growth of the Kitchener Blues Festival, now grown to the biggest free blues festival in Canada, if not the continent. And I know Mel would want me to repeat that word . . . free. Or as he would emphasize with a drawl, "FREEEEE," pointing it out to the crowds in front of the King Street stage, where he was always the closing act for the annual August festival.

    I feel honoured to have known Mel Brown ... at some distance first, as Arts Editor of The Record, Waterloo Region's daily newspaper, and as audience member when he was on stage in various venues throughout this community, then in much closer proximity during the last few years of his life.

    When I retired as a print journalist in 2006, I picked up a camera and continued to document my arts community as a freelance video journalist. Among the many events I was able to celebrate on film, some of my most treasured moments (hours, in fact) are those I spent with Mel Brown in my lens and in my ears. I only regret I wasn't doing this 15 years earlier, so I could have documented more of his performances in my hometown ... and the city Mel chose to call home for the last 20 years of his life.

    Without question, two of the most emotionally moving experiences I have filmed came in the spring of 2009, a concert on the day Mel died and his memorial service about two weeks later. You'll see footage in the film from the night of that concert, with the legendary Mavis Staples pouring her heart out, as well as close friends of Mel. And the eulogy delivered at the memorial service by Mel's friend Reverend Bobby Bowen is riveting ... not only on film but etched permanently into the memory of the hundreds of people who were in the theatre auditorium that afternoon.

    Capturing Mel in performance during the last several years of his life was simply one part of what I was attempting to do in documenting the amazingly vibrant arts community in the heart of the Grand River region of Southern Ontario. I always felt, however, that the footage I had shot of Mel, by himself and with other music legends, deserved a wider audience, deserved to be compiled in a documentary film.

    I am grateful to Sean Jasmins for pushing this project forward and to Rob Ring for taking on the challenge of editing it. As a videographer who also edits film, I know the massive challenge Rob has faced in editing this documentary. I also know it's a task that would have overwhelmed me, being far too close to the original material and therefore unable to see the forest for the trees.

    While it's imperative to thank Waterloo Region Arts Fund for providing a small grant to help offset costs, I should note this project is essentially a labor of love. As so often is the case in the Arts sector, it's volunteers who make things happen, who get things done.

    Rob Ring has put in untold hours sifting through footage in Final Cut Pro, and many more hours reviewing that footage with Sean Jasmins.

    Journalist Terry Pender has been invaluable in helping conduct interviews with people whose lives were impacted by Mel Brown. Azam Fouk Aladeh and Danny Bailey have contributed great camera work. The Multi-Cultural Cinema Club at Kitchener's amazing Working Centre provided assistance and use of equipment for interviews.

    Thanks also to Miss Angel, and to all the musicians and family and friends of Mel Brown who generously gave of their time to this project.

    Finally, thanks to you Karla, for highlighting this project on

    Philip Bast

  2. Hi Phil - I am really excited to see this film - I hope you don't mind that I asked about you in my interview with Rob = Big hugs from Spain = still waiting for your visit :) karla xx

  3. Nice work everyone! I loved hearing Mel in KW so many years ago :) Look forward to seeing the film. cheers from Vancouver, BC


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