Los Angeles – There were early signs on the farm in Minnesota that this gritty, heartfelt music would take over her life. Just one generation from Sweden, Kari Fretham’s mother insisted on waking the family with Mahalia Jackson gospel songs played at top volume – then came the blues. When Amosandra was born on the Amos ‘n’ Andy radio show within a year of Kari’s own birth, the black doll ordered from the Montgomery Ward catalog became a fixture in her childhood – then came the blues.
During high school and college in the ’60’s and 70’s, Kari stuck with rock ‘n roll quite unaware that the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin and so many others were grounded in the blues. One day in 1988 while strolling through an art gallery in Napa Valley, she heard a sound that resonated deeply within her spirit. She literally rushed over to the receptionist and asked, “What is that music?” The woman behind the desk checked the CD playing behind her, and declared, “B.B. King – a favorite of the owner.”
Within a week, Kari went to Amoeba Music in Berkeley searching for the slow and piercing sound she had heard. She left the store that day with the CD titled Completely Well on which was the mesmerizing track, “The Thrill Is Gone.”
But after being seduced by the blues in such a dramatic way, Kari had become very disappointed. Even though she was frequently dancing at innumerable clubs and festivals, her soul was rarely stirred. Eschewing more unfulfilling nights of tired covers like Mustang Sally, she decided to head to the Delta. In the south – where it all began – she was certain she would feel the vibe of real blues for sure.
She was right. Going south was the way to go. However, it turned out that it did not have to be two thousand miles away by jet. Through a fortuitous chain of events, she found the visceral blues she sought just five miles from where she lived in California.
A new documentary – Hot Love On Me So Strong, The Blues Of South L.A. – is the culmination of filmmaker Kari Fretham’s 10 year immersion in the Los Angeles south side blues community. It begins with her story of frustration after she announced in 2002, “I’m giving my life to the blues.” No matter which of the seven local juke joints sets the scene, intimate visuals and potent blues abound.
The film is the first comprehensive witness to the city’s authentic blues community – extending north to south from Adams Blvd to Century Blvd, and east to west from the historical Central Avenue to Crenshaw Blvd. It’s not a historical retrospective of bygone Los Angeles, but rather a multisensory extravaganza celebrating the vigorous blues scene alive in the city’s African/American community now…today.
Mark your calendars. The national premiere of the documentary film will run Saturday, June 7, 2014 from 11:30AM to 5:00PM at the Cinefamily (Silent Movie Theater) located at 611 N. Fairfax, Los Angeles, CA 90036.
Suggested donation of 20.00 (at the door) includes: Step & Repeat photo ops, and the 81 minute screening at 12:30PM followed by a reception with hearty appetizers, a blues concert/jam, T-shirts, and a commemorative movie poster. The DVD will be available for purchase. Free Parking.
Reviews from those who have had a sneak peak:
“Tells the real story, just like someone in the community shot it . . . totally entertaining . . . funny”
“Crazy good music”