Two Trains Runnin’

Documentary/Music; Rated NR;  80M, 2017. 

This event is sponsored by the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation. Musical performance prior to film, brief post-film discussion.

In June of 1964 hundreds of college students, eager to join the civil rights movement, traveled to Mississippi, starting what would be known as Freedom Summer. That same month, two groups of young men–made up of musicians, college students and record collectors — also traveled to Mississippi. Though neither group was aware of the other, each had come on the same errand: to find an old blues singer and coax him out of retirement. Thirty years before, Son House and Skip James had recorded some of the most memorable music of their era, but now they seemed lost to time. Finding them would not be easy. There were few clues to their whereabouts. It was not even known for certain if they were still alive. And Mississippi, that summer, was a tense and violent place. With hundreds on their way to teach in freedom schools and work on voter registration, the Ku Klux Klan and police force of many towns vowed that Freedom Summer would not succeed. Churches were bombed, shotguns blasted into cars and homes. It was easy to mistake the young men looking for Son House and Skip James as activists. Finally, on June 21, 1964, these two campaigns collided in memorable and tragic fashion.


“This film entwines the historical narratives of a naïve, passionate search for old blues musicians with that of the very courageous, violent and necessary struggle for civil right in America. It succeeds beautifully in melding two elements of the human heart that transcend bigotry and rise above hate: music and righteous activism.” –  Marc Maron


Permanent link to this article: