Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Cam Cole in American Mileage

Cam Cole is a hard rocking one-man-band, but he is hip enough to understand anyone jamming on a guitar owes their career to Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and all the other old school Bluesmen who came before. Fittingly, for his first U.S. tour, he takes long detours through the South, to drink deeply of its musical roots. Of course, there was a documentary crew along for the ride. Director Tim Hardiman’s resulting American Mileage releases today on VOD.

You might have actually seen Cole save the day for Hannah Waddingham on
Ted Lasso. He never intended to be a one-man-band. It just sort of happened and went viral. With two records under his belt, produced by his manager Markus Stretz, who also produced this film, Cole finally sent out on his American tour. Of course, he did it his way, traveling cross-country in an old camper-top.

Cole hits all the usual pilgrimage spots: Stovall Farm (where Muddy Waters first performed), Tupelo (where Elvis bought his first guitar), both Mussel Shoals studios, Nashville, Beale Street, New Orleans, and North Mississippi Hill country, as well as numerous jukes along the way. He talks and jams with a number of real deal blues musicians, the most famous probably being the great Bobby Rush. Rush has already appeared in numerous docs, notably including
I am the Blues, but someone really ought to dramatize his life story.

You might not have heard of Chloe Lavender, but she can play. It is nice to hear from surviving “Swampers” bassist and Mussel Shoals Sound Studio co-founder David Hood, if only in discussion with Cole. He has a good old time laughing, playing, and possibly eating roadkill at a barbeque with the great R.L. Boyce.

However, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes is a bit standoffish and maybe a more than a little suspicious of Cole’s intentions. It is awkward, but give Hardiman and Cole credit for their honesty, by including it. Mostly though,
Mileage is happy party of mutual appreciation.

Cole has made a name for himself and he clearly has an affinity for old, onery guitars. He comes across like a nice, mildly eccentric guy, but most viewers would still probably prefer to hear more from Rush, Boyce, and Holmes. It is a nice documentary, but
Blues on Beale will get your toes tapping faster. Recommended for Cole’s fans and anyone in the mood for a blues travelogue, American Mileage releases today (5/28) on VOD.