Distributed by Choices, Inc., 3740 Overland Ave., Ste. F, Los Angeles CA 90034; (310) 839-1500
Produced by Sarah Knight and Barbara Ghammashi
DVD, color, 40 min.
Sr. High - Adult
Aging, American Studies, Gender Studies, Music, Blues, Women's Studies
Reviewed by Sue F. Phelps, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA
Date Entered: 12/2/2009
Hot Flash recounts the history of Saffire, The Uppity Blues Women and their music. The Uppity Blues Women are Ann Rabson, Andra Faye and Gaye Adegbalola. The music is risqué, aggressive, fun, assertive, feminist, political, and radical. The fans are likened to Deadheads. Made popular through concerts that are more of a shared experience with the audience than a presentation, the uppity women lead an uppity conversion that has won them television appearances and coverage in newspapers, Playboy and the New Yorker. They are described as one of the best known contemporary blues bands.
The documentary tells the story of Saffire through interviews with the band members, their crew, family, and professionals from the music industry as well as an ethnomusicologist from The George Washington University. The interviews take the viewer from the childhood of each performer through the process of becoming a professional musician. In a business where it is hard to make a living, Saffire performs some classic blues songs as well as their own material. They cover the usual sex, booze and heartbreak themes of the blues and some radical feminist songs that are popular with their female fan base. Throughout the film the interviews are engaging, funny, honest and revealing of Saffire, specifically, and the music industry in general.
The extended interviews and the photo gallery are the best of the special features as well as the concert footage which is a complete song written and performed by Ann Rabson. The band bios are written in white print on a photo background and not easily read. The guidebook has the URL to the Choices website where an eleven-page study guide has links to the Saffire website, the websites of each band member, a chronology and discography, a brief evolution of Saffire and the blues as a genre in the history of the African-American communities of the deep south.
The film has original footage and photographs from the band members’ collections and the concert footage is clean and well done.
Hot Flash would be suitable for a public library collection as it is very entertaining along with being informative. It would be a good addition to an academic library to support contemporary music or a women’s studies program.