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Askew Review 15

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HOMEMADE HILLBILLY JAM
(First Run Features) Documentary. 80 minutes. Not rated. In the Ozark Mountains (Southwestern Missouri), director Rick Minnich follows the musical lives of some modern day Hillbillies: Big Smith, The Pine Ridge Singers, and The Baldknobbers. Band members and family are interviewed about the music and how it is passed from generation to generation. Jams are covered from bars to churches to halls and even in living rooms during the holidays. Oddly enough, the one question asked to almost every is also the same question nobody seems to answer, “What is a hillbilly?”
  Before you continue reading, remove from your brain your prejudices of what you think a Hillbilly is. These are not your Grandpappy’s Hillbillies. Those interviewed, mostly members of Big Smith and the Bilyeu family, are simply musicians playing foot stomping Hillbilly stuff whenever and wherever they can. While musical and some family history is discussed, the questions and answers do not get too personal concerning the personal life and how they actually make ends meet, which is a good thing because it should be about the music. While Homemade Hillbilly Jam will appeal to those into the Hillbilly music, fans of Bluegrass may find some interests as well as those into Gospel as the ‘Billy Boys also offer up some ‘Folk Gospel.” While the musical aspects of this release are strong, a deeper sense felt is the necessity and importance of family/friendship strength. Hoping to pass along their Hillbilly sound minus the drinkin’ and cheatin’ lyrics to children, Big Smith discusses the happiness experienced and shared while recording music targeted for the kids. As seen in one of the extras, the best of all was the corn whiskey moonshine served during a screening of Homemade Hillbilly Jam…have to love that. – Denis Sheehan

 

 

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