Producer/director Darryl Pitts’ indie biopic, “The Rhythm and the Blues,” is based on true story of a family of Mississippi-born blues musicians who came North during the Great Migration struggling to make it in the 1960s and ‘70s and created a new form of music.
“Our film, with a historical presence rooted in world-famous Chicago blus, tells a local story with a large supporting cast and it will be a breakout opportunity for new acting talent in Chicago,” says South Side native Pitts, logging a 20-year career in film, TV and commercials.
“It will reach into diverse communities to offer skilled jobs both in front of and behind the camera.”
The search has started to find actors for 92 speaking roles. The production plans on principal photography starting in mid-May.
Set in the 1960s and ‘70s, the story is based on blues vocalist and drummer Larry Hill Taylor’s autobiography, “Stepson of the Blues,” about the unbridgeable generation gap between him and his stepfather, Mississippi-born, self-taught blue guitarist Eddie Taylor.
Eddie Taylor was 25 when he arrived in Chicago in 1949 at a time when guitar music was becoming “electrified,” or amplified, to keep up wih the pace of the big city and became the precursor of rock ‘n’ roll. He is credited with putting the “lump rhythm” in the blues, which created the famous Chicago black blues sound.
Set for the lead role of Eddie Taylor is the actor known as Leon.
The part of Larry Taylor is in the process of being cast.
Veteran actor Ernie Hudson plays blues pianist and recording artist Sunnyland Slim, who also left the Mississippi Delta and migrated to Chicago and served as a mentor to his fellow Southern musicians.
Among the famous musicians featured are acoustic blues musician and composer Guy Davis, the son of actors Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, and Chicago’s Sugar Blue, the Grammy-winning blues harmonica player.
Writer / producer Bonnie McKeown, owner-mnager of Stepson of the Blues LLC grew up in West Virginia Appalachia where she heard blues and soul music all around her “that brought people together.” She came to Chicago to study, play and present blues music. “I love this music and want everyone to see where it comes from,” she says about the story.
McKeown also performs as a vocal-blues pianist and with bands. The movie, she says, “is my most ambitious venture.”
A party to support the film on Thursday, March 12 takes place at Exact Publicity, 161 W. Harrison, 5:30-9 p.m.
Leon will be the special guest for the program that will include the screening of Pitts’ doc, “Reel Black Love,” a presentation of “The Rhythm and the Blues,” food, drink and blues music.
Tickets at $50 may be purchased here.