Richmond-based progressive bluegrass outfit The Whiskey Rebellion have been on quite the ride for the past 2 years, and now you can vicariously join them on their “Musical American Dream” this Friday at the Byrd Theatre.
Richmond-based progressive bluegrass outfit The Whiskey Rebellion have been on quite the ride for the past 2 years, and now you can vicariously join them on their “Musical American Dream” this Friday at the Byrd Theatre. The documentary “Live In Oregon” features the band’s performances across the state of Oregon, but what makes the hour-long doc stand out are the personalities and scenes between and during live footage. Playing pool, being hilarious, and plenty of mandolin diddling, all possible antics of an RVA based bluegrass band play out extremely well, thanks largely in part to filmmaker Tony Morin of Hendy St. Produxions.
Traveling to the other side of the continent with close friends is something most non-musicians (and many musicians) never have the chance to do. And if this documentary existed to sell you anything, I’d buy stock in tour vans and upright basses. Having seen it, I can tell you that “Live In Oregon” purveys an entirely more inclusive tone than your boilerplate music documentary.
The filmmaking is impressive, and the tone is warm. It’s beautiful, fun, and it really doesn’t feel like so many other tour videos and documentaries – the ones that seem to scream “don’t you wish you could have as much fun as us!” This is the antithesis to that kind of documentary. It doesn’t feel like you are consuming a differently processed version of a band’s music, it feels like taking a trip.
The Whiskey Rebellion’s trip as an act began back in 2006, and while enjoying moderate success, a relic (I apologize in advance for making you feel old) of the band’s childhood, the 1985 action-adventure classic “The Goonies”, took on an unlikely role as a catalyst for the successes leading up to “Live In Oregon”.
“The Ballad Of Chester Copperpot”, a Goonies-themed song about one of cinema’s beloved skeletons, brought national attention to TWR once “Live In Oregon” director Morin collaborated with the band to produce an excellent music video. Morin describes filming in various Richmond locations, recreated to fit the Goonies theme, the most captivating of which was a cave exhibit in the children’s museum of Richmond that Morin had the eye to pick out as a surprisingly fitting substitute for the actual Goonies set. Long story short, the video was a a befitting tribute as well as a blast, and it just so happened to be released about a year prior to the Goonies 25th anniversary concert in Oregon.
The video achieved pretty serious success, including a YouTube front page nod. Another long story short, TWR were invited to play said concert, which they obliged. And, since they happen to be a great band, they built themselves a fan base in Oregon along the way. All of this sets the stage for the 2011 trip to Oregon that became the material for the documentary.
Morin describes how the documentary evolved from “just the 2011 tour video” to a much more personal documentary about the people and the music, using Kickstarter to fund it via the many newly loyal fans. It’s a really cool story, much of which takes place in front of the camera.
Oh, and the shows. The band’s sound is a mix of what’s tried and true about folk bluegrass and what’s good about modern progressive bluegrass, and their live sound is very doc-worthy.
“Live In Oregon” promises to be a heck of a film, and picking they Byrd for the premier is choice, as it fits both the theme (I can’t think of a place in Richmond where one is more likely to see buskers of a similar musical persuasion) and the ideal price range.
The band’s music doesn’t need me to vouch for it at all, so let me vouch for Morin, the band, and all their exploits in the film. Like I said, it’s much more like taking a trip with them then it is like standing on the other side of a velvet rope.
You can win a pair of tickets to Friday’s screening by filling out the widget below!