And This is Free

"'And This Is Free' is the fascinating personal vision of life around Chicago's Maxwell Street open air market shot by award winning photographer Mike Shea [capturing] the gritty urban landscape that nurtured Chicago blues... Shot with a handheld camera in the cinema verite style... the film crew spent every weekend on Maxwell Street over a six month period... The flow of everyday details - overheard conversation, faces in the crowd, items strewn in a vendor's stall - captivates the viewer with the power of authenticity." The film uses the footage to illustrate a Sunday afternoon on Maxwell Street in 1964.

DVDs are available for purchase through Kartemquin Films:

0:00Copy video clip URL Black.

0:25Copy video clip URL Title over a shot of a busy expressway reads “Chicago IL, Sunday: And This Is Free”

1:00Copy video clip URL Title reads “Maxwell St. Market.” Off-screen narrator: “Around here it’s a little bit of everything.”

2:20Copy video clip URL Spectators stand and watch Carrie Robinson sing on the sidewalk and Jim Brewer play guitar.

3:30Copy video clip URL Man preaches to a crowd about God working in mysterious ways.

4:20Copy video clip URL Street vendor hands out samples for removing callouses from feet.

5:40Copy video clip URL Various vendors try to sell their goods.

7:44Copy video clip URL Comment about rich and poor people coming around.

8:48Copy video clip URL Johnny Young sings and plays guitar on the street.

9:40Copy video clip URL “Before they put the expressway in this place was always jumping… it was terrific.”

10:26Copy video clip URL “Most of these people that come down here they have regular jobs; they have stores somewhere else… We should have quit a long time ago; there’s nothing here.”

11:57Copy video clip URL “Years ago, if a fella didn’t want to go to college, he had a little chance.”

13:44Copy video clip URL Man speaks to an audience about “Wise Man Incense.” Off-screen narrator: “That’s what most of these people come down here for… Look at them: you got 20 people and not one bag in their hand.”

15:05Copy video clip URL “There’s another nice story: the con man. You’d be surprised, the preparation that a guy has to go through to come out here just one Sunday.”

16:10Copy video clip URL Man plays harmonica and sings.

16:39Copy video clip URL Street vendor sells one of  “The World’s Smallest Saxophones” to a little boy, who has trouble figuring out how to play it.

19:00Copy video clip URL Woman performs in the street, singing and dancing.

23:25Copy video clip URL “See, this street served its purpose years ago when everyone was a greenhorn.”

26:20Copy video clip URL Man unfolds a “Free Africa” sign, and a boy rides by on scooter with sticker reading “Prosperity.”

27:30Copy video clip URL People dancing and drinking in the streets.

30:00Copy video clip URL Group sings about how wonderful Jesus is to them.

31:00Copy video clip URL Blues song playing over shots of children.

31:30Copy video clip URL Audio of a woman speaking about about so many people being dissatisfied playing over two people having a separate conversation. “A lot of people are sick in the brain.”

34:06Copy video clip URL Close-up of two men “discreetly” passing something off between them.

36:00Copy video clip URL A drunken street performer plays an accordion, then tries to get a chicken to “lay down like a baby and go to sleep.” A woman asks for a shot of alcohol. Two police officers show up. The man puts his hands up in a sign of surrender and leaves.

37:56Copy video clip URL Audio of young boy talking about what instruments he can play over a shot of him singing and playing on a box. “This lady… she gonna try to get me on this show to sing with them.”

39:25Copy video clip URL Men embrace a woman and ask God to save her soul.

41:17Copy video clip URL Screen briefly freezes on the previous woman and another woman hugging.

42:40Copy video clip URL Vendors begin to pack up their wares from the day and head home. “If you ever stop to realize what a big moving feat this is.”

46:43Copy video clip URL “There won’t be a Maxwell anymore; no one wants it.”

47:20Copy video clip URL “This street should be white as snow… A beautiful white market.”

48:00Copy video clip URL Title reading “The End. Mike Shea Films.”

48:43Copy video clip URL Video Ends.



  1. Eva says:

    I would watch this everyday to keep on smiling.

  2. Kristin Lems says:

    fantastic and thrilling. I always heard about Maxwell Street – anything goes, everyone rubs shoulders – and then along came UIC and the end of this great and unique Chicago phenomenon. GREAT video and music in particular.

  3. Maria Alicia Ibarra says:

    Thank you so much. I was there for the first time, winter 1972 mmm very beautiful memories. We would get clothing Food plus worship. My ex-husband Humberto Garcias worked on halsted Ave @ Jimmy’s Original. Would it be okay, if I could dhare?

  4. Gospel Fan says:

    Love the Gospel Music in that video. So energetic and vibrant. Why can´t you hear this nowadays anymore? I want a time machine to bring me back right to this scenery. So sad there is not enough material left, just some fragment. Precious, though.

  5. Kara says:

    Born in Chicago !!!

  6. kara colman says:

    Born in Chicago,every things gonna be alright…

  7. Ken says:

    I hope on day whomever has the masters (Shea?) of this puts out the total hours of footage and music taken so we can get more glimpses of this historical time.

    • And this is free says:

      According to the note found in the CD where the audio tracks are released is stated that Shea destroyed ALL video footage (it was hours!!!) after thinking it was not a success (he was his time ahead, I guess), just the audio tracks survived. The only remaining film available is that what you see. I was devastated when I read it, as well. I would have liked to see EVERY SINGLE minute of what Shea had film back then. BTW Shea died in a helicopter crash in the 90ies.

  8. Roman Foronda says:

    Where can you find this, purchase or watch?

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