Leo ‘Bud’ Welch
LATE BLOSSOM BLUES (DVD)
City Hall Records
Part History of a Bluesman and Part Love Story.
My father had numerous ‘sayings’ and one of which was “Do you see all of those old people over there? Well they all have a story to tell.”
It’s an adage I’ve clung to all my life; and no truer sentiment describes Leo ‘Bud’ Welch from Bruce in the Mississippi backwoods who began his celebrated recording career at the ripe old age of 81.
My father’s adage sprung to mind during the opening 5 minutes when a hunched over Bud enters his local diner for breakfast and is surprised when the waitress gives him his regular breakfast before he ordered it. He then sits down and starts chatting to two whit men of the same generation as he eats.
This scene was recorded in 2017 and you suddenly realise that for most of their octogenarian lives this conversation wouldn’t or couldn’t have taken place.
That’s the Blues that this man has lived and sings about. Leo ‘Bud’ Welch has stories, boy does he have stories….. and you’d better get comfortable because this film is intoxicating and you won’t want to miss a second.
This charming film follows not just Bud, but his friend and manager Vencie Varnado who is an Army Veteran that first encountered many years previously at his parent Juke Joints and when he re-discovered him he takes it upon himself to let the world know how good his friend was.
The problem, as he explains is that he had no experience in the music industry, so had to Google ‘getting gigs’ and ‘record contracts’.
There’s hardly a moment where if you’re not being entertained you’re learning stuff and when you’re not doing that you are watching a love story develop between Bud and Vencie.
To the uninitiated Leo ‘Bud’ Welch is a new name on the Blues scene; but coupled to his advancing years that’s what makes this story so damn exciting and indeed, charming.
It’s heartbreaking at times watching Bud hobbling around and one scene when he’s signing an autograph brought a tear to my eye; and when he talks you don’t just listen……you are forced to read his words on the subtitles because his accent is thicker than the tobacco leaves he used to harvest in his youth; but you won’t mind in the slightest.
One of my favourite parts is when his family are sitting around telling stories about their father and out of nowhere one daughter remembers the time “BB…..BB…..BB King?” wanted to take Bud on tour, but the cantankerous old man asked how much the wages were and decided to stay at home with his family!
Who knows how musical history could have been changed if he had taken up BB’s offer?
There are so many joyful moments tucked away here…..seeing Bud dancing to his own song in a studio, listening to him telling a story, seeing him in church, the tender way Vencie dresses him before a performance ‘so he looks his best for all the pretty women’, but most of all watching him come to life when he’s on stage whether it’s a Juke Joint in the middle of nowhere or thousands at a festival.
A word of praise must go to Directors Wolfgang Pfoser-Almer and Stefan Wolner who get to the nitty-gritty of Bud’s day to day life and his time travelling with his manager and never seems intrusive or voyeuristic, which is a clever trick that works perfectly well.
Sadly Leo ‘Bud’ Welch died on December 19th 2017 but what a legacy he has left in the form of his two albums and this magnificent documentary which is not just a history of a Blues Musician, but the world he lived in.
Powerful stuff indeed.
# There are a number of super videos and deleted scenes too in the Bonus Features that mustn’t be missed.
Released April 20th 2018