MADISON, AL: If you have not yet seen Alabama bluesman Brotha Ric Patton’s legendary Periscopes, the good news is he’s still doing one almost every single day and they only get better. If you have seen his Periscopes, which are some of the funniest, best-shot, best miked, and warmest you’ll find on the internet, the great news is that DNN’s production of a new documentary, Got Blues? The Brotha Ric Story, is currently in production, due for a late May 2016 release. We hope that this film will not only become a keepsake for his fans, but also that it might help bring his music, his message, and his wisdom to a wider range of viewers.
DNN Tribune last checked in on Ric way back at Xmas 2015. At the time, our pitiably understaffed production company was busy with Last Thirteen, but we immediately realized that Ric’s story was just the thing a lot of people need to see in these jaded, cynical times and assured him that Got Blues? would become DNN’s second film project. As progress on the film continues, we decided to pay a visit to one of his latest Periscopes to share with DNN Tribune readers some of his magic.
Ric has one of the most consistent Periscopes anywhere. You know what you’ll be getting every time you tune it because Ric has his act honed through decades of busking and blues playing. Ric’s Periscopes are live from the Blues Room, which is the interior of a 1972 Ford Econoline van, whch he has converted into a small studio “what you call taking nothing and making something” with CDs and albums tacked to the interior wall. He almost always begins with a monologue that combines latest news with a personal story and asides to the chat, effortlessly skipping between three topics without missing a beat. The ambiance is akin to if you had walked into the tiniest blues bar in the country; cozy, personal, and very intimate.
This was the case with his latest Periscope, from April 12, 2016, which is completely typical in every way. While discussing winning an internet popularity contest, the name of which he could not remember, he gives a little story about his sharecropping family and flirts a little with the ladies, before effortlessly slipping into a languid blues. The music he plays is usually a mix of traditional blues, an occasional cover of a more recent song, and songs Ric has written, often on the spot during the Periscope. He has a deep bag of blues licks for guitar and harmonica, and he can work up a solid, immersive groove in seconds. On the April 12th Periscope, his second song is a real barnburner, with searing harmonica, deeply soulful vocals, and a killer riff.
Ric mused that his followers have reached 1500, which he built from scratch over five months. He unveiled a Google number in which his fans could leave voice messages which he would incorporate into new songs for a planned CD. He mused on the hardships of being an independent musician and showed off the interior of his van studio. He expressed a desire to work with better recording equipment and record high quality albums. All of this was sprinkled with humor and insights about life before he launched into his third song of the night.
Ric is an instant friend to anyone who joins him in his Periscope, and he’ll sing songs to you, tell you stories, crack some jokes (which get pretty bawdy sometimes), and maybe even have a drink with you. It is a complete bluesroom experience without having to leave your phone or computer. Periscope has enabled Ric to “come in from the cold”, but his mission is not over. He still wants to make that high quality record, and he’s still looking for ten thousand followers to turn on to the blues. Periscope is one of the heroes of the Brotha Ric story; it is how DNN learned of him, and it is how he has managed to “take nothing and make something”. However, that undersells him considerably. His Periscopes aren’t merely “something”; they bring the essence of the blues to you, including its warmth and humor, in a very 21st century way.
Watch a teaser for Got Blues? The Brotha Ric Story