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Christian Garrison, an author and filmmaker who displayed an unfiltered slice of 1960s Mississippi hill country life in a short film about influential blues guitarist Fred McDowell, has died. He was 78.
Garrison’s sister, Gail McNeill, said her brother died Thursday at his home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Garrison had been fighting cancer for several months.
Garrison was working as a filmmaker for the University of Mississippi when he made Blues Maker, a black-and-white film released in 1969. Featuring just a small amount of dialogue, the short film used McDowell and his mesmerizing slide guitar as a backdrop for the gritty existence of residents near Como, Mississippi. McDowell was an inspiration for artists like Bonnie Raitt and The Rolling Stones.
Garrison also penned three children’s books, The Dream Eater, Flim and Flam and the Big Cheese and Little Pieces of the West Wind. The books were illustrated by Diane Goode, who later became a Caldecott Honor Book winner.
“Christian’s children’s stories had a deceptive simplicity, they had charm and humor and his voice was true,” Goode said in an email.
Garrison wrote two crime novels, Snake Doctor and Paragon Man. Garrison also co-founded the Panola Playhouse in Sardis, Mississippi. The decades-old playhouse remains in operation.
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