Reel Shorts | Two Trains Runnin’

by Charles Kirkland, Jr.

Producer Common narrates this stirring, emotional documentary about the search for two “Country” blues legends, Skip James and Eddie “Son” House in Mississippi during the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project of 1963.

The Freedom Summer Project, where numbers of white college students entered the state to encourage blacks to register to vote, serves as the backdrop to the story of two groups of Northern white men who are searching for these legends to bring them back to prominence in the growing folk scene of the Northeast.

At first, you may believe that the two groups searching are the two trains until you realize that the Summer Project and its vital role in the civil rights movement are truly the second train. The Summer Project and the musician search run alongside, cross and even share each other’s tracks during the movie as they drive toward their inevitable destinations.

Music is the focus of the film and it is littered with old recordings and new interpretations from contemporary blues musicians including Gary Clark, Jr., Lucinda Williams, and the North Mississippi All-Stars. Fraught with despair, this moving tale of dogged determination reminds us that while there are many stops along these tracks, the two trains, the blues and civil rights, are still running today.

Grade: B