Docs That Rock


Music, like dialect and food, has traditionally been a local grown. A town, city or region gets it own style and sound based on the forefathers and scenesters. They propogate a certain style, which begats imitators and soon a moment is happening, a city is dubbed the “next Seattle” and a Motown or a Staxx or a Sub Pop is founded to capture the noise and sell records. Then, a documentary comes along to put it to film and everyone argues over who discovered that this backwater actually is a rich source of culture.

But does this happen anymore? In an era of four labels and basically one radio chain and the world linked together by the Internet, is there a city’s scene that is so distincitve anymore? Have regional differences been erased by mass culture?

I’m not sure if Nowhere Now, a new documentary that premieres tomorrow night at the Tucson Film and Music Festival, addresses these issues directly. But it seems to speak to it indirectly. The film features music made in the Joshua Tree desert outside of Los Angeles. This is a scene that’s way different from the traditional spots where music usually blooms. What kind of sound germinates in such an unforgiving and isolationist spot? Per the program guide:

This place—its history and traditions, its isolation from urban centers, and its unique atmosphere and community—have contributed to this phenomenon. Each writer-performer has his or her unique story, but all have had to face the conflict between maintaining their identity as performers and the struggle to survive in the music industry. The film paints a portrait of life in the desert, far from big music industry, while examining our notions of success and failure.

It features the cool indie chanteuse Victoria Williams, old rocker Eric Burdon (of the Animals), intriguing Gram Rabbit (who I started listening to after seeing the trailer) and more. Preview below:


October 10, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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