Ken Burns, Country Music Series, PBS 2019

Ken Burns is the leading documentarian of American history and culture. The film catalog he and his team have produced in partnership with PBS is America’s cultural repository.

Ken Burns and company are working on Country Music, a series scheduled for PBS viewing in  2019.

Country Music will chronicle the history of a uniquely American art form, rising from the experiences of remarkable people in distinctive regions of our nation.  From southern Appalachia’s songs of struggle, heartbreak and faith to the rollicking western swing of Texas, from California honky tonks to Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, we will follow the evolution of country music over the course of the twentieth century, as it eventually emerged to become America’s music.

It will be directed and produced by Ken Burns; written and produced by Dayton Duncan; and produced by Julie Dunfey—Emmy-award winning creators of PBS’s most-acclaimed and most-watched documentaries for more than a quarter century, including The Civil WarLewis & ClarkThe Journey of the Corps of DiscoveryThe National Parks: America’s Best IdeaThe Dust Bowl, and many more.

Country Music will be a sweeping, multi-episode series, exploring the questions, “What is country music?” “Where did it come from?” while focusing on the biographies of the fascinating characters who created it—from the Carter family, Jimmie Rodgers and Bob Wills, to Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Charley Pride, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Garth Brooks and many more—as well as the times in which they lived.  And like the music itself, Country Musicwill tell unforgettable stories—stories of the hardships and joys shared by everyday people.

We will trace its origins in minstrel music, ballads, hymns, and the blues, and its early years when it was called hillbilly music played across the airwaves on radio station barn dances. We will see how Hollywood B movies instituted the fad of singing cowboys like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, and watch how the rise of juke joints after World War II changed the musical style by bringing electric guitars and pedal steel guitars to the forefront.  We will follow the rise of bluegrass music with Bill Monroe and we will note how one of country music’s offspring—rockabilly—mutated into rock and roll in Memphis.  And we’ll see how Nashville slowly became not just the mecca of country music, but “Music City USA.” All the while, we will note the constant tug of war between the desire to make country music as mainstream as possible and the periodic reflexes to bring it back to its roots.

A tie-in collaboration event designed to celebrate the PBS première of Ken Burn’s Country Music is scheduled for the Jazz at Lincoln Center 2018-2019 Concert Series.

APR 25–27, 8PM • ROSE THEATER

WYNTON MARSALIS AND KEN BURNS: COUNTRY MUSIC

Iconic documentarian Ken Burns and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis explore the shared roots found throughout American music. With never-before-seen clips from Burns’ upcoming Country Music series, audiences will learn the fascinating and often intertwined histories of songs made famous by artists such as Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, and others. Then hear brand new arrangements of those songs written and performed by the JLCO.

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These Are The Words – Patti Smith

Friday, May 18th gave us the simultaneous launch of the documentary and original soundtrack for Pope Francis: A Man of His Word.

This film is intended to be a personal journey with Pope Francis, rather than a biographical documentary about him. The pope’s ideas and his message are central to this documentary, which sets out to present his work of reform and his answers to today’s global questions. From his deep concern for the poor and wealth inequality, to his involvement in environmental issues and social justice, Pope Francis engages the audience face-to-face and calls for peace.

Viva Papa!

I love the collaboration accomplished by Director Wim Wenders and the artist Patti Smith. Their collective effort benefits viewer and listeners in capturinhg the true spiritual resonance Pope Francis conveys in our world.  How rewarding it must be to have your words and film raising further consciousness about the Holy Father. The illumination of our spirits is the direct result. I can’t wait to see this film in a movie theater for I am convinced as a devout Roman Catholic the experience embodies my faith and teachings.

Patti Smith’s song “These Are the Words” are heard over the closing credits. I’ve been listening to the song repeatedly while writing this blog post. It gives one pause and solace.

Filmmaker Wim Wenders says that Patti Smith “is a truly amazing spiritual person, not just one of the greatest singers and songwriters ever. She admires St. Francis very much, and at one point, she told me she stayed in the same Franciscan monastery where we also ate with the monks every night when we shot the St. Francis episodes,” Wenders said. “And she told these very kind and friendly brothers that she was convinced that the next Pope was going to be called Francis. They all laughed wholeheartedly and told her this was, unfortunately, never going to happen. And then it happened!”

Wenders added, “When I first heard Patti’s song and read the lyrics that she had sent along, I admit, I was in tears. This was such an incredible gift to the film. She had found the perfect way to sum it up in her words. It is uplifting without ever being remotely embarrassing, which is close to impossible. But she did it.

 

Still On The Run – The Jeff Beck Story

Jeff Beck is a true gunslinger and more.

His musicianship defined rock guitar for me.  He was the first major rock guitarist I saw live as The Jeff Beck Group in 1969 at The Fillmore East.

Jeff Beck, Ronnie Wood, Mickey Waller, and Rod Stewart

I’ve seen him perform in concert twice since ’69.  The night he played with his band at the 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Concert in 2009 at Madison Square was over the Top 😉

We saw him the following year at the Garden again. He was on tour with Eric Clapton where they each did a set, collaborating together. The highlight of Jeff Beck’s performance was to bring a full orchestra to play “Nessun Dorma” (An aria from the last act of Giacomo Puccini’s opera, Turandot). His versatility has no bounds.

“Jeff takes the guitar to the furthest reaches of the guitar universe” -Jan Hammer”

He’s still on the run 49 years later.  Catch him this summer with Ann Wilson (Heart) and Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company)

Still On The Run: The Jeff Beck Story documents the history of a musical maverick and true innovator, delving below the surface to shed light on the circumstances, inspiration and technicality behind the man and his music. The film features extensive interviews with Jeff both at home and in his workshop, as well as interviews with Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, David Gilmour, Ronnie Wood, Slash, Jan Hammer, Joe Perry, Beth Hart & many more.

Harlem Street Singer – Rev. Gary Davis

I watched the documentary film Harlem Street Singer about the life of Reverend Gary Davis.

His songs have interested me for years thanks to Jorma Kaukonen faithful renditions. But I didn’t know anything about the person behind those songs.

I learned that Rev. Gary Davis rose from abject poverty in North Carolina and that he was nearly blind from birth. He taught himself how to play the guitar and to improvise songs. He got married and eventually moved to New York.  He was a hardy soul who survived on the streets of Harlem as a musician. He taught guitar in order to make a living. He provided lessons right up until his death at age 76 in 1972.  Amongst his star pupils were Dave Van Ronk, David Bromberg, Bob Weir, Roy Book Binder, and Stefan Grossman. Woody Mann who was his student for four years serves as co-producer and responsible for the music for Harlem Street Singer.

Blind Gary Davis was a purveyor of the Piedmont Blues which refers to a guitar style known as the Piedmont fingerstyle.  It is characterized by a fingerpicking approach in which a regular, alternating thumb bass string rhythmic pattern supports a syncopated melody using the treble strings generally picked with the fore-finger, occasionally others.[2]

His versatility as a musician allowed him to create the intersection of blues, folk, and gospel. His mastery of each idiom truly stood him apart.

The folk revival of the 1960s jettisoned Davis’s career. He performed at the Newport Folk Festival. Peter, Paul and Mary recorded his version of “Samson and Delilah“, also known as “If I Had My Way”.

Reverend Gary Davis who never had any children of his own, proudly claimed these guitar students as his sons. Thankfully for you and I they honor his tutelage by paying it forward.

 

Horses: Patti Smith and her Band

A new documentary capturing the final concert of the 40th anniversary Patti Smith Horses worldwide tour has been announced. Horses: Patti Smith and her Band was directed by Steven Sebring and executive produced by Jimmy Iovine, and it will make its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 23. Footage for the documentary was shot at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles in early 2016.

Patti Smith - The Wiltern Theatre - January 8, 2016

It includes intimate backstage footage and features Patti Smith and her band, Lenny Kaye, Jay Dee Daugherty, Tony Shanahan, and Jack Petruzzelli, joined by guitarist Jackson Smith and Flea.

The film will be followed by a live performance by Smith and her band at the Beacon Theatre on Monday, April 23, 7 p.m.

Horses: Patti Smith and her Band documentary will be released exclusively on Apple Music at a later date.

Steven Sebring is a long time friend of Patti’s who previously directed Patti Smith: Dream of Life a 2008 documentary film.

Patti_Smith-_Dream_of_Life

Sir Doug & the Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove

My quest to discover more about the roots of Americana music has led me to explore the sound and artistry of Doug Sahm. He started as the founder and leader of the Sir Douglas Quintet who had a huge hit in 1965, “She’s About A Mover” that I recall witnessing on NBC’s Hullabaloo a musical variety show (1965-66).

 

His legend in Austin, Texas grew from there. He was a major influence on many other musician’s careers.

sir dougI recommend the documentary, Sir Doug & the Genuine Texas Cosmic GrooveIt was produced by The Society for the Preservation of Texas Music. If you have an Amazon Prime account its available as a free download from their Website.

I have a thing for Tex-Mex music. I really enjoy the supergroup, the Texas Tornados that began with Doug Sahm, Augie Meyers, Freddy Fender, and Flaco Jimenez. As Fender once said, “You’ve heard of New Kids on the Block? We’re the Old Guys in the Street.”

Once this music gets in your bloodstream it never lets go of ya.

texas

Rumble – The Indians Who Rocked The World

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World is a feature documentary about the role of Native Americans in popular music history.

The award-winning documentary tells the story of a profound, essential, and, until now, missing chapter in the history of American music: the Indigenous influence. Featuring music icons Charley Patton, Mildred Bailey, Link Wray, Jimi Hendrix, Jesse Ed Davis, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Robbie Robertson, Randy Castillo, and others, RUMBLE shows how these talented Native musicians helped shape the soundtracks of our lives.

One of the most influential music pieces of all time is “Rumble”, the 1958 rock power chord by Shawnee rock guitarist and singer/songwriter Link Wray. Wray, who’s heavily featured in the film, was recently nominated for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2018. The first song to use distortion and feedback, it was the only instrumental single to be banned from radio for fear it would incite violence.

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World is now available to buy or rent:

Amazon.com http://amzn.to/2z8JWm3

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/rumble-the-indians-who-rocked-the-world/id1279590020

Version Francaise:
https://itunes.apple.com/ca/movie/rumble-the-indians-who-rocked-the-world/id1279590020?l=fr

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2zaaYJP

DVD: https://www.kinolorber.com/film/rumble