Archive for ‘Music movies’

October 23, 2013

Banjos Everywhere

Last night, I watched “No Direction Home” one of the documentaries about Bob Dylan (and one of my favorite movies).  Although the movie is (of course) mainly focused on Dylan- it covers his musical background and influencers very well.  You see everyone from Hank Williams to Odetta.  It was interesting for me to see (this is the first time I’ve watched it since plunging into the banjo world), how many artists use the banjo in their work at this time. Of course, there are the “singer-songwriters”, like Dylan himself, but the folk movement (of course) included a lot of banjo.  Everyone from the Jim Kweskin Jug Band to The Weavers (of course) had someone picking at the banjo.

I may digress here, for a moment.  “No Direction Home” is one of those movies that makes me both overwhelmed by all the music that is in the world, as well as so happy that I will never run out of new bands and new musicians to discover.  It is so interesting to see all of the bands and solo acts that influenced Dylan, as well and who were around in the same era as him.  Although their music is more or less all part of the folk revival, they are all such diverse musicians and that’s what makes the movie great (and it doesn’t hurt to see numerous pictures & clips of Bob himself).  Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger are of course a part of the documentary, and it is nice to see Pete holding onto his banjo throughout his entire interview, the banjo such a part of him that they can’t be separated.  Perhaps someday, I’ll be heading in that direction, but for now, I’m still in awe of all of the amazing musicians of yesteryear as well as today.

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan

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September 26, 2013

Throw Down Your Heart

Since I just started my banjo journey, I haven’t seen very many movies about banjos.  I have though, seen one that was pretty fantastic.  It’s called “Throw Down Your Heart.”  It follows Bela Fleck (an amazing banjo player!!) Check him out here.

Bela journeys to Africa (where the banjo is originally from) to play with a lot of really amazing African musicians, and hear some of their stories.  It’s a really cool movie, and it’s filled with great music & some pretty touching stories. Watch a  preview here.

Throw Down Your Heart

Another interesting thing about Bela Fleck is that he collaborates with musicians from around the world, one of my personal fave collaborators are the Tuvan Throat Singers.  These guys are AMAZZZZZINGG. They can sing more than one note simultaneously… like WHAT??!!! Listening to them is kind of mind blowing, you’re not quite sure how they’re doing it.  Read all about what they do…

Throat Singers

Basically, the moral of this post is that the banjo is a gateway to so many different cultures & a lot more music than you might have bargained for.. it’s not just some 99 year old on a porch in a rocking chair picking a tune, or a new modern day folk band. As with any instrument you can kind of take it in the direction that you want- but the banjos seems to have a unique versatility. I’m looking forward to reaching the point at which I can explore even more genres, although as you know- I love my original folk tunes…