Monday, February 28, 2005

Festival Express (DVD, 2003)

I found this in my local Hollywood Video store. It's
a documentary of a rock festival that was held
across Canada in 1970. The festival promoter
rented a train for the festival, and the musicians
travelled by train, in style, across Canada, from
gig to gig site.

Overall The DVD is so-so. If you love the artists
and/or music, I'd say it's a must see. The best
performances are from Janice Joplin and worth
watching. The Grateful Dead and The Band are very
so-so here. Most of the performances by the other
artists are forgettable. I'll say this: it is
interetsing to see such a young Gerry Garcia and
such a very young and very thin Rick Danko being
very much himself. I enjoyed seeing how much the
crowds enjoyed the music.

List of groups/artists on the film:

Janis Joplin
The Grateful Dead
Janis Joplin & The Full Tilt Boogie Band
The Band
Buddy Guy Blues Band
Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
The Flying Burrito Bros
Ian & Sylvia & The Great Speckled Bird

Some web sites about the film:

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Ballad of Rambling Jack, DVD of 2000

This is a documentary of the folk singer, Rambling Jack Elliot. It's long on documentary and short on music. If you've ever heard, or heard of, Rambling Jack Elliot, and want to know more, this is a good place to start.

Rambling Jack was a disciple of Woody Guthrie and travelled with him for years.
Whatever one thinks of Rambling Jack personally, he must be given credit for continuing the work of Woody Guthrie in keeping the spirit of American folk music alive and spreading its popularity. Rambling Jack has been a "culture bearer" and for this he should be appreciated.

I assume that most people reading this post already know something about Rambling Jack, and therefore I will not go into detail.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Don't Look Back, DVD of 1965

I found this DVD in my local Hollywood Video store, not under music but Special Interest. If only they moved it to the Music section, more people would rent it. I only found it by accident! Until then, I didn't even know they had a special interest section. By contrast, as a music fan, I scan the Music section like a hawk.

It is a documentary of his 1965 tour of England. It's shot in Black and White, 90% documentary and 10% music performance. Bob Dylan only came to New York in 1961. In ENgland, he's still in his early twenties and looks it. The persona shown is exactly the one described by himself in his autobiography, Chronicles, Volume 1. It is a characterization of someone who is very sure of himself, but lacking a supply of life experiences to draw wisdom and maturity from.

I found the DVD to be an interesting picture of England and the folk music scene in in 1965. The "Beatnik" influence is still around. We see Bob and a few people standing around him snapping their fingers melodramically to the sound of someone playing jazz piano. This is post Beatles, mind you. Donovan is a big star over there, and they talk about him alot. The interest in American music by people from other countries and cultures fascinates me.

I was most impressed by sequences of Bob Dylan trying to write songs, or at least transpose them from handwritten to typed pages, in the midst of a hotel room full of people kibitzing, playing guitars, and soaking up the aura. It showed Bob's single minded dedication and persistence in his craft. We should all be so driven.

Objectively, its a dull film, but for true Dylan fans, it is a must see. Go see it!