By M. Scott Morris
BRUCE – A production company in Vienna, Austria, wants to make a documentary about 82-year-old blues and gospel musician Leo “Bud” Welch.
Wolfgang Almer, director and producer for the movie, invited Welch to perform at a blues festival in Linz, Austria, earlier this year.
“The second Leo walked on the stage, the audience exploded, and they never stopped until the end of the show. It was incredible,” Almer said in an email interview.
A Bruce resident, Welch released his first album, “Sabougla Voices,” last year. It’s available on CD and vinyl at biglegalmessrecords.com and other online retailers.
He learned guitar at 13, and performed at churches and parties for most of his life, while making a living cutting timber in Calhoun County.
“My main point of interest is how Leo’s life, his social/economical situation, his surroundings, his culture and his upbringing made him the man he is today, and therefore also made Leo’s music the way it is today,” Almer said. “There’s a very strong fascination about a man with his past, always playing music pretty much for himself. His music has an incredible authenticity that’s a rare thing today.”
Almer is looking for help in getting Welch’s story to a larger audience. Let’s Make This Happen Productions is organizing a Kickstarter program to raise $15,000 to finance the film.
The campaign will run from Tuesday to Sept. 26. When the campaign starts, the Kickstarter address can be reached at qr4.nl/_leobudwelchmovie. Before the start of the campaign, that address will direct people to www.facebook.com/LeoWelchMovie.
“The $15,000 is the absolute minimum that we need,” Almer said. “We’re trying to raise some more money via governmental funding in Austria.”
Almer and his team hope to come to Bruce for about two weeks in mid-October. Visits are planned for Welch’s birthplace and the farm where he grew up, as well as the cotton fields and woodlands where he worked.
The team expects to hire a sound man in Mississippi, as well as additional cameramen for concert footage of Welch in action.
Almer said the finished product should run about 70 minutes.
“We expect the movie to be shown on a lot of blues festivals all over the world. We already have a lot of inquiries from blues festivals,” Almer said. “We will also submit the movie to film festivals internationally.”
Those who contribute will be eligible for a digital download and the DVD of the finished movie, and a signed copy of Welch’s record.
“There’s also a meet-and-greet package with Leo,” Almer said, “and the set of guitar strings that Leo played with over the last year – the man really watches his strings.”
Almer said the core team will work for free to make the budget go further.
“If we get more money, the movie gets more awesome,” he said.