Norman Blake documentary

September 5, 2008 at 9:50 am | Posted in Chattanooga, learning, listening to | Leave a comment

last night we went to see the premier of documentary about Norman Blake, a local and international folk music icon, and a great inspiration to me in many ways. here’s a brief review:

firstly, this is still a relatively rough-cut production. geeks might call it a beta release. apparently the original filmmaker did this 6 or 7 years ago, and he passed away before completing it. then his digital files were corrupted. someone resurrected the files and now we have a mostly-complete film. given the circumstances, I think the film was rather well done, with good production values (although the projector equipment was having problems at the venue too, so it’s hard to tell what was film glitches and what was playback issues)

anyway, there wasnt anything necessarily groundbreaking here, but I think it was a very good portrait of Norman and his work. there were appearances/interviews from George Gruhn, Sam Bush, Michelle Shocked (!), Nancy Blake (of course), John Hartford (who had some very funny stories), a music historian whose name I forget (he gave some good perspective on Norman’s chosen career path) as well as some vintage footage from the Johnny Cash show.

there was a jam with Sam Bush, and a few other songs from Norman throughout, mostly on the guitar, although he was on mando in the Johnny Cash clip, as well as one other time.

he discussed his youth, the old days playing with all the legends, song writing stuff, touring stuff (and his decision to stop flying in 1974), spoke about Nancy (they’re very quirky in an endearing and cool way), O Brother, etc.

I think the best stuff (besides John Hartford’s stories) was him talking about how he hopes his music can serve people in some small way, and the importance of staying humble. this attitude is in stark contrast to that of the vast majority of the music industry, in my opinion, and I find it very inspiring, to say the least.

the guy in charge of the project now (didnt catch his name) said they’re planning on adding some to it to bring it up to today, and they’ve had interest from producers and from PBS. so hopefully that will go well and everyone will get to see a final version sometime in the near future.


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