Robert Crumb’s got the blues

“Crumb,” Terry Zwigoff’s superlative 1995 documentary about underground cartoonist Robert Crumb, is getting a DVD and Blu-ray re-release from Criterion in August. The point of interest on the music side: Crumb is a devoted lover and collector of old-time music in all genres. (Some may remember his series of collector’s cards devoted to antique blues, country and jazz performers). He also recorded two albums with his band the Cheap Suit Serenaders, which included director Zwigoff and fellow cartoonist Robert Armstrong among its personnel.

In the clip above, the misanthropic Crumb listens dreamily to his rare 78 of “Last Kind Word Blues,” recorded by Geeshie (or Geechie) Wiley, who recorded four unique blues sides for Paramount in 1930 before disappearing off the face of the earth. (Her complete works can be heard on “American Primitive Vol. II: Pre-War Revenants,” a dazzling two-CD compilation of rare and unknown old-time performers released by the late John Fahey’s label Revenant Records in 2005.)

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