Monday, February 4, 2008 - Honeydripper Film Premiere and ABP Benefit
Reception featuring Alabama blues musicians Henderson Huggins,
Stephan Hundley and Carroline Shines. Blue Monday at the Bama Theatre!
Q & A with director John Sayles and producer Maggie Renzi

The Alabama Blues Project thanks the community for its turnout and enthusiasm for the Honeydripper film premiere at the Bama Theatre. We were very grateful to have director John Sayles and producer Maggie Renzi here for the event. They were both very pleased with all the support shown for the movie and the ABP. 


We would also like to extend special thanks to the Arts Council of Tuscaloosa County – particularly Pam Pennick, without whom this could not have been possible. Thank you also to Jeremy Butler, the University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences, Tommy Fell, Josh and Rebecca Rothman, Joanna Jacobs, Dr. Sarita Elizabeth Cox, Jarrett Hudson, Omar Dinkins, our extraordinary Board of Directors, and all of our friends for your much appreciated help. 


While Honeydripper is fiction, the tradition of blues in Alabama is very real. It is our mission at the ABP to preserve and promote this heritage. Alabama, unlike Mississippi, has not yet realized its potential for cultural tourism that is possible through the effective promotion of the blues in our state. Our dream is to have a living blues museum with space for teaching and performance, as well as exhibition space for traveling and permanent collections, and archival storage to appropriately preserve the rich blues history that exists in this state. Click here for more information about our preservation projects.


Carroline Shines (Photo by John Earl)

Debbie Bond and Frank Jordan
(Photo by John Earl)

Debbie Bond and Henderson Huggins
(Photo by John Earl)

Henderson Huggins and Stephan Hundley
(Photo by John Earl)

John Sayles and Maggie Renzi
(Photo by John Earl)

Stephan Hundley (Photo by John Earl)


Tuscaloosa News Video


Filmmakers John Sayles and Maggie Renzi return to Alabama to push 'Honeydripper'
(The Birmingham News February 8, 2008)

Bama rocks to movie premiere (Tuscaloosa News February 5, 2008)

Honeydripper Premieres (Tuscaloosa News February 4, 2008)

Southern Comfort (The Tusk February 1, 2008)


In 2006, the ABP was very excited to hear that director John Sayles (Lone Star, Eight Men Out, Matewan) and producer Maggie Renzi had chosen Alabama as the location of their new film, Honeydripper. The blues and the deep south are the themes of this thought-provoking movie, which includes lots of great music. Featured musicians include Keb' Mo', Dr. Mable John, Eddie Shaw and Jerry Portnoy among many others.

Dr. Mable John as Bertha Mae

Keb' Mo' as Possum

The ABP is thankful that more and more people are realizing that Alabama has a rich blues culture and now Honeydripper can only help to spread the word. The film was shot in the southern Alabama towns of Greenville, Georgiana, Anniston and Midway in the late summer and early fall of 2006. It is interesting to note that part of Greenville's blues history includes being the home of 1920/30s blues harmonica player and recording artist Ed Bell, who was also known as “Barefoot Bill.”

We were very happy to be asked to assist in finding possible musician extras for the film and Tuscaloosa-based veteran keyboard player Henderson Huggins and young Birmingham based drummer Stephan Hudley got parts!

Stephan Hundley Performs at the
ABP Summertime Blues Camp
Henderson Huggins
Photo by Dan Lopez / Tuscaloosa Magazine

As part of Black History Month celebrations, on Monday, February 4th, 2008, Tuscaloosa’s beautiful and historic Bama Theater will be hosting the Tuscaloosa Honeydripper premier and the proceeds of the evening will go to benefit the Alabama Blues Project! A reception will be held prior to the screening and a blues band will entertain, including Henderson Huggins, Stephan Hundley and Carroline Shines, plus guest spots by some of our best blues camp students! The very big attraction of the evening is that the film's director, the great John Sayles and the talented producer Maggie Renzi will be present for a panel Q and A session with the public!

Honeydripper takes us back to the genesis of rock 'n' roll - namely the '50s rural blues of the Deep South. The story depicts a second chance for an aging bluesman, a kickoff to a young guitar turk's career and the rise of rock 'n' roll itself.

The movie features an all-star cast including Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Stacy Keach, Mary Steenburgen, Yaya DeCosta and Sean Patrick Thomas. Featured musicians include Keb' Mo', Dr. Mable John, Eddie Shaw and Jerry Portnoy among many others. The music supervisor was Tim Bernett, with original music composed by Mason Daring.

The film's setting is the 1950 rural town of Harmony, Alabama, during cotton harvest. It's a make-or-break weekend for the Honeydripper Lounge and its owner, piano player Tyrone "Pine Top" Purvis (Danny Glover). Deep in debt to the liquor man, the chicken man, and the landlord, Tyrone is desperate to lure the young cotton pickers and local Army base recruits into his juke joint and away from Touissant's, the rival joint across the way. After laying off his regular talent, blues singer Bertha Mae (Mable John), Tyrone announces to his sidekick Maceo that he has hired a famous electric guitar player, Guitar Sam, for a special one-night-only gig: pack 'em in and save the club.

On the day of the show, the train arrives and Guitar Sam is nowhere to be found. Tyrone is forced to take action. He makes a deal with Sheriff Pugh to release Sonny, a kid who hopped off a freight car in Harmony and turned up in the club claiming he could play the guitar as well as any Guitar Sam.

Tyrone cleans Sonny up and launches a scheme to pass off the young guitar picker as Guitar Sam just long enough to cut the lights and run off with the cash box. When Sonny takes the stage and launches into his first scalding electric licks, Tyrone will learn if it's lights out for the Honeydripper or if his luck has changed: he might just be another man saved by rock 'n' roll.

Honeydripper grew out of Sayles' fascination with the genesis of rock 'n' roll. "There was no single moment when R&B, blues, gospel, jazz and country all came together to create this thing called rock 'n' roll," he said, "but a big change came with the advent of the electric guitar. Before that, piano ruled. Suddenly a poor boy like Sonny (played by Gary Clark, Jr.) could travel around with a portable, cheap, high-volume electric guitar and peel the paint off the walls."

The Honeydripper All-Star Band, made up of musicians who took part in the film, has been touring major blues festivals since early summer. The band consists of Gary Clark Jr. on guitar, Stax Records veteran Dr. Mable John on vocals, Henderson Huggins on keyboard, Howlin' Wolf/Muddy Waters band alumnus Eddie Shaw on saxophone and Arthur Lee Williams on harmonica. The band will continue to tour in support of the movie through the rest of this year and into the spring.

The movie also contains music by legendary blues/R&B artists Memphis Slim, Lil Green, Hank Williams and Barrence Whitefield. The soundtrack recording will appear on a label to be announced shortly.

Honeydripper is John Sayles' 16th feature film and the 13th produced by longtime collaborator Maggie Renzi. It was shot in the southern Alabama towns of Greenville, Georgiana, Anniston and Midway in the late summer and early fall of 2006.

Press release
Source: conqueroo / Cary Baker

All Photos Above are Compliments of the Honeydripper Official Web Site
Except Stephan Hundley (ABP) and Henderson Huggins (Tuscaloosa Magazine)