Early in his film-making career, Bob Mugge (pronounced “muggy”) was writing screenplays and scrambling to raise money to turn those scripts into feature films. In his spare time, he was making fun little music films. He came to notice that his feature films never got funded, but those “little music films” always did, so he turned his attentions to documenting many of the greatest artists of the 20th century and beyond.
Today, the Chicago native who grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland is teaching at Ball State University, where since 2009 he has filled the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Chair in Telecommunications.
Mugge’s 30-plus films feature a variety of music and non-music subjects. He has made works on bluegrass, jazz, gospel reggae and most frequently the blues. Black Wax. Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise. The Return of Ruben Blades. Gospel According to Al Green. All Jams on Deck. Saxophone Colossus. Lookin’ for Trouble. Last of the Mississippi Jukes. Hellhounds on My Trail: The Afterlife of Robert Johnson are but a few of the many wonderful music films Mugge has gifted us over the years.
They have earned him high praise from publications including The Village Voice and The New York Times, with Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter writing “Mugge has, during the past 25 years, established himself as the cinema’s foremost music documentarian …”