Documentary to Capture the Life of Bakersfield Sound's Billy Mize

The grandson of Billy Mize said at first he had no idea how rich the history of the Bakersfield Sound really is, and how deep it runs.

But that changed. Joe Saunders is working to complete a documentary called "Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound," and appeared Thursday on the "First Look with Scott Cox" simulcast to talk about it.

When Saunders started listening to Mize's original work, he said, he found it to be amazing, and he told his now 84-year-old grandpa so.

Saunders said he may have even been "too surprised."

The film will document Mize's struggle back from a stroke, Californian Eye Street Editor Jennifer Self said on the show.

"I was knocked out by it," Self said of the rough cut of the film she watched. "I watched it and I loved it."

Saunders said he feels privileged to create the documentary. Filmmaking, he said, is a battle, and it's been four years in the making.

Saunders said Mize went on tour when he was 19, but it was short-lived because he wanted to be home with family. Mize's answer to continuing his country music without touring was to go on TV.

"He was primed for television," Saunders said of Mize, and was on seven TV shows at one time.

Self noted that there seems to be a modern resurgence of the Bakersfield Sound, which she called the coolest music ever.

Saunders said he still needs about $53,000 to complete the film.

To that end, a fundraiser will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday, June 15 at Aviator Casino, 1225 Airport Drive in Delano. It costs $75 and includes dinner, poker, prizes, music, an auction and a DVD of the film once it's finished.

Items to be auctioned include a guitar, and a poster donated by the Academy of Country Music and signed by current country music starts. Visit or call 213-346-9985 for tickets.