Rock On Away From Here: The Blues in Georgia’s Lower Chattahoochee Valley

Beginning in the 1960s, folklorist George Mitchell spent the better part of two decades canvassing the rural reaches of the American South in search of the blues.

He roamed the back alleyways of Atlanta, his hometown, and later worked as a photographer for the newspaper in Columbus. On the weekends, George and his wife, Cathy, would drive around the Chattahoochee Valley seeking musicians to record, often crossing stringent racial divides in the process. Like other folklorists who wandered the South making field recordings, Mitchell spent a significant amount of time in Memphis and the Mississippi Hill Country.

“Rock on Away From Here” tells the story of George Mitchell and his contemporaries, Art Rosenbaum and Fred Fussell, discovering and documenting a vital aspect of Georgia’s vast musical legacy. Through interviews, music, photographs, and archival footage, the film offers a glimpse of a once-thriving musical tradition drawing its last defiant breath.

Written and directed by Brian Crews for the Center of Public History at the University of West Georgia as part of the Joseph Johnson Fellowship Program, this historical documentary was supervised by Dr. Ann McCleary and Dr. Julia Brock and edited by Steven Broome and was shot and recorded by Jason Thrasher of Athens, Ga., and Main Sail Video of Fort Myers, Fla. This film could not have been made without the generous support of Lisa Love and the Georgia Music Foundation.