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Anacostia Delta: The Legend of DC’s TeleMasters

For years, local filmmakers Bryan Reichhardt and Virginia Quesada have both been at work on separate projects about late D.C. guitarist Danny Gatton, who Guitar Player magazine once called the “world’s greatest unknown guitarist.” Now Reichhardt’s effort, Anacostia Delta: The Legend of DC’s TeleMasters, is the first one available for viewing.  Quesada’s film is intended to be a biographical look at Gatton onstage and off; Reichhardt’s film is instead an appreciation of Gatton’s rockabilly-meets-jazz, blues, and country playing, as well as that of the late guitarist Roy Buchanan and other D.C.-area-based roadhouse roots rockers from the late 1950s onward. Utilizing footage of a 2015 tribute concert at The Birchmere, with interviews and archival clips woven in, the movie documents the D.C.-area musical scene, that per the title, extended from Gatton’s childhood Elmira Street SE home down through long-gone clubs in Prince George’s County and Charles County. Nashville’s Vince Gill and the UK’s Albert Lee spell out how musicians in the know respected Gatton and Buchanan, while the local artists who played with those two Telecaster slingers offer stories about how they resisted stardom. Onstage at The Birchmere, locals including bassist John Previti and guitarist Anthony Pirog bring Gatton’s take on jazz standard “Harlem Nocturne” to life. While Anacostia Delta does not offer speculative details on Gatton’s 1994 death by suicide at 49 or Buchanan’s 1988 death in a Fairfax jail cell, it celebrates and explains Gatton’s self-described “redneck jazz,” Buchanan’s blues-rock, and why they happened here. The film is available to purchase at $11–$19.99. —Steve Kiviat