Robert Mugge

Writings

Interviews

Courses

Student Films

 

 

Music Films and Documentaries

Kirkus Reviews The Best Indie Books of 2023 Chosen by Kirkus Reviews as one of the 100 “Best Indie Books of 2023!”

“A documentarian revisits the funkiest musical byways in this scintillating memoir. Mugge's vivid prose mixes piquant sketches of musicians with atmospheric evocations of the music. The book is also a master class on the director's craft. Music fans and indie film aficionados will find here a beguiling homage to both art forms. A vibrant, entertaining panorama of music-making and the picaresque struggle to capture it on film.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“The stories he tells go well beyond anecdotes about musicians. He opens us up to the whole world of documentary filmmaking:
how they’re financed; how they’re recorded and edited. Notes from the Road is the best thing I’ve read about what it’s like to direct films
since Sidney Lumet’s 1996 classic, Making Movies.”
—Ken Tucker, NPR’s Fresh Air w/Terry Gross

“The overriding takeaway from the book is Mugge’s genuine love for the music and all the cultural aspects that surround it such as food,
local customs, and legends. To call him an American treasure is not an overstatement as no one else has delved into the music this way.”
—Jim Hynes, Making A Scene

“As a teacher of writing, I always stressed to my students to 'put the reader there.' In these pages, in every encounter, in every music joint or hall, in every negotiation, in every conversation Robert Mugge has succeeded in his writing in the same way he succeeded in every one of his documentary films. I highly recommend this inside look into the making of his music documentaries.”
—Art Tipaldi, Blues Music Online

“Anyone unfortunate enough not to have seen any of his 30-plus films—most of them music documentaries—can get a comprehensive view of Mugge’s magnificent cinematic legacy through his new volume Notes from the Road: A Filmmaker’s Journey through American Music.”
—Ron Wynn, Nashville Scene

Music fans owe Robert Mugge a debt of gratitude for his lifetime of work as an independent filmmaker. Readers of this outstanding book will come away with many levels of respect for his accomplishments. Highly recommended!
—Mark Thompson, Blues Blast Magazine
 

Notes from the Road - A Filmmaker's Journey through American Music
Click for a Larger View

Notes from the Road:
A Filmmaker’s Journey through American Music

by Robert Mugge

2023 The Sager Group LLC 352 pages

Available to order wherever books are sold.

Since 1976, Robert Mugge has created three dozen documentaries about various aspects of American culture, with particular emphasis on traditional forms of American music. In his new memoir, Notes from the Road: A Filmmaker's Journey through American Music, Mugge describes the genesis of what he considers to be his twenty-five key music films, the methods employed in making them, and the experiences shared by him, his crews, and his subjects. This retrospection is organized not so much chronologically as thematically, in order to reveal connective tissue among efforts made over multiple decades.

As William Reynolds Ferris, one of Mugge's role models, writes in his foreword to the book, "Mugge both thrills and exhausts us as he describes the process of making his films. He shifts his camera lens deftly from classical music to bluegrass to jazz to Tex-Mex to gospel to reggae to Hawaiian slack-key guitar. A gifted filmmaker and a fine writer, Mugge introduces us to musicians, record producers, and his trusted film crew, which at times includes his wife, Diana. This book offers an intimate view of his struggles as a filmmaker and his determination to capture our nation's music on film."

As Aidan Levy, author of Saxophone Colossus: The Life and Music of Sonny Rollins, writes in his endorsement of the book, “[Robert Mugge] has taken us backstage (and onstage) to give us the story behind the music of Sonny Rollins, Gil Scott-Heron, Sun Ra, and so many other legendary artists. Now he is taking us behind the scenes to reveal how the films were made. He is one of my favorite directors, supremely gifted at visual storytelling, but as it turns out, he may be just as engaging on the page. I strongly encourage all music lovers, cinephiles, and anyone interested in a peripatetic life lived off the beaten path to get this book!”

Notes from the Road is a fascinating exploration of the visual documentation of musical creation--a separate and distinct form of documentary filmmaking, as practiced by one of its chief proponents. The resulting "notes from the road" provide a lyrical introduction to his personal musical odyssey.

 

Making a Scene Magazine Book Review Jim Hynes's book review from the March 15, 2023 issue of
MAKING A SCENE: The Independent Music Magazine
Kirkus Reviews Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Blues Music Online Book Review Art Tipaldi's book review from the May 15, 2023
issue of Blues Music Online
Mississippi’s Clarion Ledger Newspaper Jana Hoops’s interview with Robert Mugge
from the Sunday, May 28, 2023 issue of
Jackson, Mississippi’s Clarion Ledger Newspaper
Mississippi’s Clarion Ledger Newspaper Ken Tucker’s book review from the July 18, 2023
episode of NPR's Fresh Air w/Terry Gross

WBGO 88.3 FM News director Doug Doyle interviews Robert Mugge
for Newark, New Jersey’s WBGO-FM
(posted on August 5, 2023)
Nashville Scene Ron Wynn’s interview with Robert Mugge from the
October 5-11, 2023 issue of Nashville Scene
BluesBlast Mark Thompson’s book review from the
October 26, 2023 issue of Blues Blast Magazine
Takoma WOWD 94.3 FM Radio David Eisner and Richard Harrington interview
Robert Mugge over Takoma Radio WOWD-LP FM
Washington City Paper Pat Padua’s film and book article from the
Washington City Paper, November 2023
Washington City Paper Washington Post columnist John Kelly discusses
Robert Mugge’s filmmaking career, his new memoir,
and his music film series at the AFI Silver Theatre

 

 

A 60-minute video introduction to Robert Mugge's
filmmaking memoir, NOTES FROM THE ROAD

Click here to view four promotional videos, a 60-minute video introduction,
and Mugge’s 4/14/23 Thacker Mountain Radio Hour reading:

Rosie LedetAl GreenDale HawkinsGil Scott-HeronThacker MountainIntroduction

 

The Twenty-Five Films Discussed at Length (in the order addressed)

George Crumb: Voice of the Whale, Gather at the River: A Bluegrass Celebration, Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise, Saxophone Colossus with Sonny Rollins, Black Wax with Gil Scott-Heron, Gospel According to Al Green, The Return of Rubén Blades, Cool Runnings: The Reggae Movie, Hawaiian Rainbow, Kumu Hula: Keepers of a Culture, Deep Blues, Hellhounds on My Trail: The Afterlife of Robert Johnson, Pride and Joy: The Story of Alligator Records, True Believers: The Musical Family of Rounder Records, The Kingdom of Zydeco, Zydeco Crossroads: A Tale of Two Cities, Iguanas in the House, Rhythm 'N' Bayous: A Road Map to Louisiana Music, New Orleans Music in Exile, Last of the Mississippi Jukes, Blues Divas, Deep Sea Blues, All Jams on Deck, Big Shoes: Walking and Talking the Blues, Giving Up the Ghosts: Closing Time at Doc's Music Hall.

 

 

Book and Film Tours

APRIL 14: CLARKSDALE, MS - JUKE JOINT FESTIVAL
 1:30 p.m. Reading/Signing at Roger Stolle's Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Arts
 6:00 p.m. Discussion with host Jim Dees and brief reading at New Roxy as part of a live taping of Thacker Mountain Radio Hour

APRIL 15: CLARKSDALE, MS - JUKE JOINT FESTIVAL
 2:00 p.m. Signing at Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art

APRIL 17: JACKSON, MS
 5:00 p.m. Reading/signing at John Evans's Lemuria Bookstore

APRIL 18: NEW ORLEANS, LA
 6:00 p.m. Reading/signing/discussion featuring Iguanas bass player and podcast host René Coman at Tom Lowenburg's Octavia Bookstore

APRIL 20: BIRMINGHAM, AL
 6:15 to 7:15 p.m. Reading/discussion at Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema
 7:40 p.m. Screening of "Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise" followed by discussion with author/artist/radio host Burgin Mathews
 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. Book Signing in the lobby.

MAY 12: MEMPHIS, TN
 12:00 p.m. Discussion with Ron Buck on WYXR 91.7 FM
 3:00 p.m. Reading/signing at the Memphis Listening Lab

MAY 31: EVANSTON, IL (suburb of Chicago)
 5:30 p.m. Reading/signing at Tim Peterson's Squeezebox Books & Music

JUNE 1: EVANSTON, IL
 7:00 p.m. Screening of "Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise" followed by discussion with Michael Metzger, Curator of Media Arts at Northwestern
 University's Block Museum of Art

AUGUST 10, 11 & 12: NEW YORK, NY
 Screenings of "Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise," "Black Wax," and "Cool Runnings: The Reggae Movie,” plus discussions
 and book readings, at Roxy Cinema

AUGUST 19: JACKSON, MS
 Panelist at Mississippi Book Festival, plus book signing

SEPTEMBER 22: PHILADELPHIA, PA
 Screening of "Amateur Night at City Hall: The Story of Frank L. Rizzo," plus discussion and book signing,
 at Lightbox Film Center, University of the Arts

SEPTEMBER 27: FRANKLIN, IN
 Screening of “Cool Runnings: The Reggae Movie,” plus discussion and book signing, at Historic Artcraft Theatre

OCTOBER 22: NASHVILLE, TN
 Screening of film clips plus book discussion at the Southern Festival of Books

NOVEMBER 16-19: SILVER SPRING, MD
 Screening of 7 films plus book signings at AFI Silver Theatre

JANUARY 30, 2024: LAFAYETTE, LA
 Book reading and film clip presentation at the Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival

 

 

Photos from the 25 Films Discussed

George Crumb #1
George Crumb #1
George Crumb #2
George Crumb #2
George Crumb 3
George Crumb #3
George Crumb 4
George Crumb #4
George Crumb 5
George Crumb #5
George Crumb 6
George Crumb #6
George Crumb 7
George Crumb #7
George Crumb 8
George Crumb #8
Gather at the River #1
Gather at the River #1
Gather at the River #2
Gather at the River #2
Gather at the River 3
Gather at the River #3
Gather at the River 4
Gather at the River #4
Gather at the River 5
Gather at the River #5
Gather at the River 6
Gather at the River #6
Gather at the River 7
Gather at the River #7
Gather at the RIver 8
Gather at the RIver #8
Gather at the River 9
Gather at the River #9
Sun Ra #1
Sun Ra #1
Sun Ra #2
Sun Ra #2
Sun Ra 3
Sun Ra #3
Sun Ra 4
Sun Ra #4
Sun Ra 5
Sun Ra #5
Sun Ra 6
Sun Ra #6
Sun Ra 7
Sun Ra #7
Sun Ra 8
Sun Ra #8
Sun Ra 9
Sun Ra #9
Sun Ra 10
Sun Ra #10
Sun Ra 11
Sun Ra #11
Saxophone Colossus #1
Saxophone Colossus #1
Saxophone Colossus #2
Saxophone Colossus #2
Saxophone Colossus 3
Saxophone Colossus #3
Saxophone Colossus 4
Saxophone Colossus #4
Saxophone Colossus 5
Saxophone Colossus #5
Saxophone Colossus 6
Saxophone Colossus #6
Saxophone Colossus 7
Saxophone Colossus #7
Saxophone Colossus 8
Saxophone Colossus #8
Saxophone Colossus 9
Saxophone Colossus #9
Black Wax #1
Black Wax #1
Black Wax #2
Black Wax #2
Black Wax 3
Black Wax 3
Black Wax 4
Black Wax #4
Black Wax 5
Black Wax #5
Black Wax 6
Black Wax #6
Black Wax 7
Black Wax #7
Black Wax 8
Black Wax #8
Black Wax 9
Black Wax #9
Al Green #1
Al Green #1
Al Green #2
Al Green #2
Al Green 3
Al Green #3
Al Green 4
Al Green #4
Al Green 5
Al Green #5
Al Green 6
Al Green #6
Al Green 7
Al Green #7
Al Green 8
Al Green #8
Al Green 9
Al Green #9
Ruben Blades #1
Ruben Blades #1
Ruben Blades #2
Ruben Blades #2
Ruben Blades 3
Ruben Blades #3
Ruben Blades 4
Ruben Blades #4
Ruben Blades 5
Ruben Blades #5
Ruben Blades 6
Ruben Blades #6
Ruben Blades 7
Ruben Blades #7
Ruben Blades 8
Ruben Blades #8
Ruben Blades 9
Ruben Blades #9
Cool Runnings #1
Cool Runnings #1
Cool Runnings #2
Cool Runnings #2
Cool Runnings 3
Cool Runnings #3
Cool Runnings 4
Cool Runnings #4
Cool Runnings 5
Cool Runnings #5
Cool Runnings 6
Cool Runnings #6
Hawaiian Rainbow #1
Hawaiian Rainbow #1
Hawaiian Rainbow #2
Hawaiian Rainbow #2
Hawaiian Rainbow 3
Hawaiian Rainbow #3
Hawaiian Rainbow 4
Hawaiian Rainbow #4
Hawaiian Rainbow 5
Hawaiian Rainbow #5
Hawaiian Rainbow 6
Hawaiian Rainbow #6
Hawaiian Rainbow 7
Hawaiian Rainbow #7
Hawaiian Rainbow 8
Hawaiian Rainbow #8
Kumu Hula #1
Kumu Hula #1
Kumu Hula #2
Kumu Hula #2
Kumu Hula 4
Kumu Hula #4
Kumu Hula 5
Kumu Hula #5
Kumu Hula 6
Kumu Hula #6
Kumu Hula 7
Kumu Hula #7
Kumu Hula 8
Kumu Hula #8
Kumu Hula 9
Kumu Hula #9
Deep Blues #1
Deep Blues #1
Deep Blues #2
Deep Blues #2
Deep Blues #3
Deep Blues #3
Deep Blues 4
Deep Blues #4
Deep Blues 5
Deep Blues #5
Deep Blues 6
Deep Blues #6
Deep Blues 7
Deep Blues #7
Deep Blues 8
Deep Blues #8
Deep Blues 9
Deep Blues #9
Deep Blues 9
Deep Blues #10
Hellhounds #1
Hellhounds #1
Hellhounds #2
Hellhounds #2
Hellhounds #3
Hellhounds #3
Hellhounds 4
Hellhounds #4
Hellhounds 5
Hellhounds #5
Hellhounds 6
Hellhounds #6
Hellhounds 7
Hellhounds #7
Hellhounds 8
Hellhounds #8
Pride and Joy
Pride and Joy #1
Pride and Joy 2
Pride and Joy #2
Pride and Joy 3
Pride and Joy #3
Pride and Joy 4
Pride and Joy #4
Pride and Joy 5
Pride and Joy #5
Pride and Joy 6
Pride and Joy #6
Pride and Joy 7
Pride and Joy #7
Pride and Joy 8
Pride and Joy #8
True Believers
True Believers #1
True Believers 2
True Believers #2
True Believers 3
True Believers #3
True Believers 4
True Believers #4
True Believers 5
True Believers #5
True Believers 6
True Believers #6
Kingdom of Zydeco #1
Kingdom of Zydeco #1
Kingdom of Zydeco #2
Kingdom of Zydeco #2
Kingom of Zydeco 3
Kingom of Zydeco #3
Kingdom of Zydeco 4
Kingdom of Zydeco #4
Kingdom of Zydeco 5
Kingdom of Zydeco #5
Kingdom of Zydeco 6
Kingdom of Zydeco #6
Kingdom of Zydeco 7
Kingdom of Zydeco #7
Kingdom of Zydeco 8
Kingdom of Zydeco #8
Kingdom of Zydeco 9
Kingdom of Zydeco #9
Kingdom of Zydeo 10
Kingdom of Zydeo #10
Zydeco Crossroads
Zydeco Crossroads #1
Zydeco Crossroads 2
Zydeco Crossroads #2
Zydeco Crossroads 3
Zydeco Crossroads #3
Zydeco Crossroads 4
Zydeco Crossroads #4
Zydeco Crossroads 5
Zydeco Crossroads #5
Zydeco Crossroads 6
Zydeco Crossroads #6
Zydeco Crossroads 7
Zydeco Crossroads #7
Zydeco Crossroads 8
Zydeco Crossroads #8
Zydeco Crossroads 9
Zydeco Crossroads #9
Zydeco Crossroads 10
Zydeco Crossroads #10
Zydeco Crossroads 11
Zydeco Crossroads #11
Iguanas in the House
Iguanas in the House #1
Iguanas in the House 2
Iguanas in the House #2
Iguanas in the House 3
Iguanas in the House #3
Iguanas in the House 4
Iguanas in the House #4
Iguanas in the House 5
Iguanas in the House #5
Rhythm 'N' Bayous #1
Rhythm 'N' Bayous #1
Rhythm 'N' Bayous #2
Rhythm 'N' Bayous #2
Rhythm 'N' Bayous #3
Rhythm 'N' Bayous #3
Rhythm N Bayous 4
Rhythm N Bayous #4
Rhythm N Bayous 5
Rhythm N Bayous #5
Rhythm N Bayous 6
Rhythm N Bayous #6
Rhythm N Bayous 7
Rhythm N Bayous #7
Rhythm N Bayous 8
Rhythm N Bayous #8
Rhythm N Bayous 9
Rhythm N Bayous #9
Rhythm N Bayous 10
Rhythm N Bayous #10
Rhythm N Bayous 11
Rhythm N Bayous #11
Rhythm N Bayous 12
Rhythm N Bayous #12
Rhythm N Bayous 13
Rhythm N Bayous #13
Rhythm N Bayous 14
Rhythm N Bayous #14
Rhythm N Bayous 15
Rhythm N Bayous #15
New Orleans Music in Exile #1
New Orleans Music in Exile #1
New Orleans Music in Exile #2
New Orleans Music in Exile #2
New Orleans Music in Exile #3
New Orleans Music in Exile #3
New Orleans Music in Exile #4
New Orleans Music in Exile #4
New Orleans Music in Exile 5
New Orleans Music in Exile #5
New Orleans Music in Exile 6
New Orleans Music in Exile #6
New Orleans Music in Exile 7
New Orleans Music in Exile #7
New Orleans Music in Exile 8
New Orleans Music in Exile #8
New Orleans Music in Exile 9
New Orleans Music in Exile #9
New Orleans Music in Exile 10
New Orleans Music in Exile #10
New Orleans Music in Exile 11
New Orleans Music in Exile #11
New Orleans Music in Exile 12
New Orleans Music in Exile #12
New Orleans Music in Exile 13
New Orleans Music in Exile #13
New Orleans Music in Exile 14
New Orleans Music in Exile #14
New Orleans Music in Exile 15
New Orleans Music in Exile #15
New Orleans Music in Exile 16
New Orleans Music in Exile #16
Last of the Mississippi Jukes #1
Last of the Mississippi Jukes #1
Last of the Mississippi Jukes #2
Last of the Mississippi Jukes #2
Last of the Mississippi Jukes 3
Last of the Mississippi Jukes #3
Last of the Mississippi Jukes 4
Last of the Mississippi Jukes #4
Last of the Mississippi Jukes 5
Last of the Mississippi Jukes #5
Last of the Mississippi Jukes 6
Last of the Mississippi Jukes #6
Last of the Mississippi Jukes 7
Last of the Mississippi Jukes #7
Last of the Mississippi Jukes 8
Last of the Mississippi Jukes #8
Last of the Mississippi Jukes 9
Last of the Mississippi Jukes #9
Blues Divas #1
Blues Divas #1
Blues Divas #2
Blues Divas #2
Blues Divas #3
Blues Divas #3
Blues Divas 4
Blues Divas #4
Blues Divas 5
Blues Divas #5
Blues Divas 6
Blues Divas #6
Blues Divas 7
Blues Divas #7
Blues Divas 8
Blues Divas #8
Blues Divas 9
Blues Divas #9
Blues Divas 10
Blues Divas #10
Blues Divas 11
Blues Divas #11
Blues Divas 12
Blues Divas #12
Blues Divas 13
Blues Divas #13
Blues Divas 14
Blues Divas #14
Blues Divas 15
Blues Divas #15
Blues Divas 16
Blues Divas #16
Deep Sea Blues #1
Deep Sea Blues #1
Deep Sea Blues #2
Deep Sea Blues #2
Deep Sea Blues #3
Deep Sea Blues #3
Deep Sea Blues 4
Deep Sea Blues #4
Deep Sea Blues 5
Deep Sea Blues #5
Deep Sea Blues 6
Deep Sea Blues #6
Sea Blues 7
Deep Sea Blues #7
Deep Sea Blues 8
Deep Sea Blues #8
Deep Sea Blues 9
Deep Sea Blues #9
Deep Sea Blues 10
Deep Sea Blues #10
Deep Sea Blues 11
Deep Sea Blues #11
Deep Sea Blues 12
Deep Sea Blues #12
Deep Sea Bues 13
Deep Sea Bues #13
Deep Sea Blues 14
Deep Sea Blues #14
Deep Sea Blues 15
Deep Sea Blues #15
Deep Sea Blues 16
Deep Sea Blues #16
Deep Sea Blues 17
Deep Sea Blues #17
Deep Sea Blues 18
Deep Sea Blues #18
All Jams On Deck
All Jams On Deck #1
All Jams On Deck 2
All Jams On Deck #2
All Jams On Deck 3
All Jams On Deck #3
All Jams On Deck 4
All Jams On Deck #4
All Jams On Deck 5
All Jams On Deck #5
All Jams On Deck 6
All Jams On Deck #6
All Jams On Deck 7
All Jams On Deck #7
All Jams On Deck 8
All Jams On Deck #8
All Jams On Deck 9
All Jams On Deck #9
All Jams On Deck 10
All Jams On Deck #10
All Jams On Deck 11
All Jams On Deck #11
Big Shoes
Big Shoes #1
Big Shoes 2
Big Shoes #2
Big Shoes 3
Big Shoes #3
Big Shoes 4
Big Shoes #4
Big Shoes 5
Big Shoes #5
Big Shoes 6
Big Shoes #6
Big Shoes 7
Big Shoes #7
Big Shoes 8
Big Shoes #8
Giving Up the Ghosts
Docs Music Hall #1
Docs Music Hall 2
Docs Music Hall #2
Docs Music Hall 3
Docs Music Hall #3
Docs Music Hall 4
Docs Music Hall #4
Docs Music Hall 5
Docs Music Hall #5
Docs Music Hall 6
Docs Music Hall #6
Docs Music Hall 7
Docs Music Hall #7
Docs Music Hall 8
Docs Music Hall #8
 
 

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