I so thoroughly enjoy these types of documentaries. Like much of the Les Blank set, this is a look into the life of one particular musician. In this case, it’s blues musician Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong. We don’t speak to his friends about him, or his family. Instead we just meet the man himself, and get to know him a little bit.
It’s a style of documentary that allows us a window into someone’s world, without any pretense that we’re going to understand what we see. This isn’t an investigation. It’s a representation. We are presented with an entertaining life, unexamined. There’s something I find absolutely enthralling about that format.
It helps that Howard Armstrong reminds me a little bit of my grandfather. Certainly they were different in many, many ways. But they both loved a tall tale, and interacted with the world mostly through goofiness. I think the only times I saw my grandfather unhappy were when we tried to force him to be serious. If we let him just be himself, everything was great.