Roll ‘Em!

AZ Film Fest - Patrick Tourville

Filmmakers Reams, Bowman and Tourville

I have to say that I was thrilled by the response we for the 1st Annual Arizona Bluegrass Film Festival right here in Phoenix. Thanks to all of you that came out for the event! Arizona Republic even wrote a nice article about the festival. Several of those present were brand new to bluegrass…and that was music to my ears! It just doesn’t get any better than to share my passion for this music with someone who’s just had their first sip of vintage bluegrass. As they learned about how this music came into being; listened to clips from the likes of The Seldom Scene, David Grisman, Doyle Lawson, The Travelers and Del McCoury; and experienced the love and family atmosphere that surrounds this genre…many were changed, converted by their exposure to the genuine article.

AZ Film Fest

Plans are already underway for a bigger and even better film festival in 2015. Stay tuned!

It’s Here! The Music Video Is Finally Here!!!!

Video Cover blueIt has long been a dream of mine to create a music video featuring the song “Almost Hear the Blues.” Stonewall Jackson wrote this song and when he sang it to me over the telephone it conjured up such vivid pictures in my head that I knew one day, when I had the chance to make a music video, this would be the song for it.

I’ve been saying that the bluegrass industry needs to kick it up a notch and start making more music videos as that’s what appeals to the visually-stimulated generation of today. So I decided to put my money where my mouth is and this is the result. I worked with a talented filmmaker from the west coast, Rick Bowman of Backyard Green Films, and thankfully we were able to pull this together without breaking the bank.

Here’s a little background about the video itself.  As we kicked around ideas, we decided to tell the story of a man who sought perfection in love and ended up alone. We used shots of remembered festivals and dancing to this same song with his sweetheart as kids to show happier times and then cut to images that brought to mind the full impact of his loneliness. It isn’t until she’s actually gone that he’s able to let go of the idea of the perfect woman and go after her.

“Almost Hear the Blues” is included on my 8th CD, “One Foot in the Honky Tonk” which was released in 2011. The song charted nationally and the CD was featured on two Top Ten CDs of 2011 lists. To read more about it, just click on the CD title. I sure hope you like our little video!

You like it…you really like it!!

I’ve been sitting on pins and needles since the release of the DVD documentary “Making History with Pioneers of Bluegrass” wondering if viewers would like it. Would they see it as the preservation of a slice of bluegrass history, as a tribute to those pioneers that worked so hard to give us this musical genre that we know and love? The response has been overwhelmingly supportive, enthusiastic, and grateful. I’ve received cards, emails, and phone calls from excited folks all over the US. I thought I would share with you what some of these viewers had to say:

“I have just finished watching the DVD twice and I just had to write to you to express my thanks for your passion for this project. It is evident from the first line to the very last fiddle note by Art Stamper. Wow!” ~ a fellow Bluegrass Nut

“I appreciated the video and was happy to support its’ production. I’m from Kentucky and grew up with this music. Bless you for reviving memories.” ~ Doris S., Kentucky

“The DVD was well conceived and executed. I had fun listening to the anecdotes and became a more rounded and educated bluegrass fan. James, your DVD adds so much more to the story of bluegrass. I feel as though I am living those times with the musicians. I will cherish it and watch it over and over.” ~ Gary R., Virginia

“James , I was very impressed with your DVD. Looks like a lot of time and energy went into your project. I saw a couple of surprises while watching, one was Charlie Bailey, that was neat. The other was Mac Martin and Mike Carson, Mac is my uncle and it’s great to see him getting some attention. You did a great job with all the interviews, lots of luck!” ~  John M., Pennsylvania

“The Pioneers of Bluegrass gives the viewers both novices and hardcore bluegrass fans insight into the life experiences of many well-known bluegrass musicians. This DVD captures their true life stories of growing up, how they got into this business, and some experiences of their road travels. Musicians both past and present were interviewed. I was riveted to this DVD the entire time it was playing. It is a ‘Must Have’ for all bluegrass fans who want to know how it all started!!” ~ Al Shusterman, KCBL Radio, California

Thank you so much for embracing this film in the spirit with which it was offered.

 

A Promise Kept

(Click on DVD cover to view trailer)

I can’t believe it! When I got back from Wisconsin, I learned that the DVDs for the film documentary “Making History with Pioneers of Bluegrass: Tales of the Early Days in Their Own Words” had finally been delivered!!! I feel like a kid at Christmas. I’ve been dreaming about this moment since I first had the idea for the film back in 2002. There were so many times that I just wanted to throw my hands up in the air and give up, but something made me keep on trying. Maybe it was the promise I made to my partner, Tina Aridas, before she passed away…maybe it was all those unspoken promises I made to those who were interviewed for the film…maybe it was the silent promise I made to future generations of bluegrassers. At last I can say that I’ve kept those promises.

My thanks again to all who those legends that appeared in the film and to all of you that supported the Kickstarter campaign that helped get this film out the door. I hope that those of you who see the film recognize it’s historical value and that it prompts you to dig even deeper into the lives and music of these pioneers. As I’ve said all along, the purpose of this film is to preserve the stories of these pioneers and the film delivers on that promise too, in traditional bluegrass fashion – straight up with no fancy stuff.

“Making History with Pioneers of Bluegrass” is available from CDBaby.com and from Mountain Redbird Music (order form is available on the Store menu of this website) as well as from the gift shop at the International Bluegrass Music Museum.

Coming to a Theater Near You

 

(Click on DVD cover to view trailer)

(Click on DVD cover to view trailer)

Wow! After 11 years and an incalculable number of hours spent working on the film documentary “Making History with Pioneers of Bluegrass”, the end is in site. Barring any unforeseen difficulties in the DVD burning process, the film will be released on July 1, 2013.

I’ll be promoting it on radio programs and with screenings at various bluegrass associations (with a personal appearance by yours truly for Q&A where possible). Copies may be purchased from CDBaby or at most of my performances.

It’s exciting to finally get this footage into the hands of bluegrass followers everywhere. Sadly, many of the musicians that I interviewed are no longer with us; for a few, this represents their last recorded interview. I am honored to have been able to help preserve their memory, advice and stories for future generations.

I hope you will enjoy this labor of love that puts you into the shoes of the “man-on-the-street” just kicking back and chewing the fat with these legends of our music.

Lookout Academy Awards…

January 27, 2013:  “Rollin’ On” Film Selected for Bluegrass on Broadway Film Festival

Bluegrass on Broadway

Bluegrass on Broadway

When I was notified that our documentary “Rollin’ On” was selected for screening at the 13th Annual Bluegrass on Broadway Festival, I was thrilled. This prestigious festival is jointly sponsored by the Northern California Bluegrass Society (NCBS to their friends!) and the International Bluegrass Music Museum.

The idea for the film came up when I was approached by a filmmaker in New York about using our band to create a documentary. I told him I didn’t think it was a good idea, but sure am glad that he convinced me to go along with it!

Shot in 1998, “Rollin’ On” is a behind the scenes look at life on the road with me and the band. Viewers hitched a ride on the Redbird Express as we criss-crossed the northeast playing at Lincoln Center, radio shows, bluegrass festivals and even a square dance. The documentary was released with our CD “Troubled Times.” Unfortunately, it couldn’t be released for showing on TV or the “big” screen due to licensing issues with the music.

I made the trip out to Redwood City, CA to be on hand for the Q&A after the screening and am so glad I did. This was the first time I had gotten to attend a screening and was blown away by the crowd’s enthusiastic response. It was so great to hear the audience laughing (at the appropriate places!) and hear their applause at the end. The Q&A was fun too and it was pretty clear from the questions that the crowd felt our little film was a wonderful representation of the life of a typical bluegrass band.

“Porchlight Sessions” by Anna Schwaber and “Rollin’ On” were obvious crowd favorites. This event will definitely be a highlight of my 20th Anniversary celebration. Now I can’t wait to wrap up the documentary “Making History with Pioneers of Bluegrass: Tales of the Early Days in Their Own Words” and hope that I’ll be invited back to the festival again in 2014!