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The Great Flood

Film still from ''The Great Flood''

On Christmas Day of 1926, after torrential rains, the Mississippi River broke its levee system in 145 places. Whole towns were swamped or washed away and 246 people were killed in seven states. Then in April of 1927, fifteen inches of rain fell on New Orleans in 18 hours and that city's levees broke. By May of that year, 25,000 people had been displaced by the floods and the Mississippi River south of Memphis measured 60 miles across. Many of the people fleeing the rising water were Delta blues musicians. They headed north and settled in Chicago where they established a new genre of windy city blues. Filmmaker Bill Morrison has been fascinated by those musicians and their journey for decades. Known for his experimental films that pair atmospheric footage with music, he has teamed up with jazz legend Bill Frisell on a new project called "The Great Flood." The film combines found footage with Frisell's original composition. Morrison and Frisell join host Frank Stasio to discuss the project, which screens with live music this weekend at Duke University.

Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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