Monday, August 12, 2013

I've been to my own music festival.


My bus stop bench where I catch the 12 home after seeing movies and/or documentaries at the Hollywood Theatre. I sat there waiting Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings after seeing three nights of music-related documentaries. I'm a member of the Hollywood Theatre at the Producer level, so my admission is free and I get a free member-size popcorn.

I'm very happy to give you a list of the documentaries that I saw.

Friday night, 20 Feet From Stardom - The untold true story of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century. Triumphant and heartbreaking in equal measure, the film is both a tribute to the unsung voices who brought shape and style to popular music and a reflection on the conflicts, sacrifices and rewards of a career spent harmonizing with others. These gifted artists span a range of styles, genres and eras of popular music, but each has a uniquely fascinating and personal story to share of life spent in the shadows of superstardom. Along with rare archival footage and a peerless soundtrack are intimate interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Mick Jagger and Sting to name just a few. I left wishing more than ever that I could sing. 

Saturday night, three Les Blank documentaries. I left well-pleased that I'd been able to see these three jewels, to witness the creativity captured on film by an equally creative man. 
Dizzy Gillespie (1965 – 23 min) – Les Blank’s earliest music film. Great Dizzy performances and personal moments.
The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins (1970 – 31 min) – A portrait of the great Texas bluesman, Lightnin’ Hopkins.
Hot Pepper (1973 – 54 min) – profile of Clifton Chenier – the self-crowned “King” of Zydeco accordion.

Sunday night, two more Les Blank documentaries. I felt the same way Sunday night that I did on Saturday. 
Sprout Wings and Fly (1983 – 30 min) – A compassionate, life-affirming document of Appalachian fiddler Tommy Jarrel.
A Well Spent Life (1971 – 44 min) – Tribute to the Texas songster and guitar great, Mance Lipscomb. 

There was a third one on Sunday evening, Chulas Fronteras (51 min) – portrait of the Tex-Mex scene and its musical protest against migrant worker oppression, opting instead to head for the bench at the bus stop so that I could stop by on my way home for the last 30 minutes of Kevin Selfe's Blues Jam at the Blue Diamond PDX.

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