Community Engagement Through Take Me To The River Film Screenings and Concert

On Thursday, November 2, The Grand Theater and UWMC Lecture & Fine Arts co-hosted a special community discussion and screening of the documentary Take Me To The River in preparation for the live concert at The Grand on November 7.

Two free public screenings were held at UW-Marathon County on Thursday, one in the afternoon for university students, faculty and staff, and one in the evening screening of the full film.

Part of The Grand’s Community Engagement Series, the screenings aimed to give more context to the Take Me To The River LIVE event at The Grand, as well as provide a space for community exploration and discussion. Professor Barker facilitated a conversation about the intergenerational, cross-cultural, and gender inclusive musical influence of Memphis during a time of discrimination. Community members young and old chimed in to discuss the history of blues and soul music across the country, the history and future of the music industry, and much more.


“I had my tickets for Take Me To The River already, because I saw those great people like Charlie Musselwhite who were going to be here, and wanted to see them live,” said attendee Vickie Richmond Hawkins. “I’ve had that background in the Memphis Sound, and the presentation just filled it out a little more and put it more into perspective.”

Take Me To The River (2014) previously premiered at the SXSW Film Festival, where it received the highly prized Audience Award. A celebration of Memphis’ ever-evolving music scene – featuring deep dives into the careers of Mavis Staples, Bobby Rush, Yo Gotti, Snoop Dogg and more – the documentary earned has recognition from the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and more, as well as numerous awards.

The film inspired the extensive nationwide tour, which will appear at The Grand on Tuesday, November 7 at 7:30 PM. The live concert experience will feature performances from Grammy winners William Bell, Bobby Rush and Charlie Musselwhite – who were all featured in the documentary – as well as many other talented musicians who will chart the musical evolution of Memphis from blues to hip-hop.

The document screening and live concert are both supported by the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from the Wisconsin Arts Board and the Crane Group.

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