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As the beginning of “Take Me to the River” makes clear, director Martin Shore normally makes music instead of documentaries.

It clearly shows.

If you look at “Take Me to the River” as an opportunity to watch legendary Memphis blues musicians demonstrate the craft, then the film succeeds handsomely. The skill and joy of these musicians are such a pleasure to watch that you almost forget “Take Me to the River” is supposed to be a documentary.

And that implies … well, you know … information.

Memphis gave birth to a blues scene that eventually morphed into R&B, country, soul, funk and hip-hop. To celebrate this history, “Take Me to the River” recruited legends like William Bell, Bobby Rush and Booker T. Jones to record music with rappers like Snoop Dogg, Frayser Boy and Al Kapone.

The results are truly inspiring. Bobby “Blue” Bland’s collaboration with Yo Gotti on “Ain’t No Sunshine” reminds viewers why that piece is perhaps the quintessential American song on heartbreak and loneliness.

In one particularly amusing segment, Otis Clay coaches preteen rapper Lil P-Nut on how to properly sing Ray Charles’ “I’ve Got a Woman.”

“You’re using your diaphragm,” Clay says. “You got to use the back of your throat. That’s where the honey is.”

However, some of the recording sessions drag a bit much. And the documentary’s attempt to focus on the connection between Stax Records and Royal Studios and the broader civil-rights movement of the 1960s seems halfhearted and out of place.

Shore should have just stuck to his strengths, which is producing music. As a documentary, though, “Take Me to the River” falls woefully short on offering a serious contribution to the history of African-American-inspired music.