Sunday, April 30, 2017

Movies About Musicians: Old Joe’s Place

The Folksmen (From A Mighty Wind): Old Joe’s Place


For our new theme, we will be posting songs from movies about musicians. This is a deceptively rich theme that should yield some interesting approaches and results. We can choose, it seems to me, from any of the following: fictional films; documentaries about music and musicians; or concert films. To get the ball rolling, I have decided to start with a movie that could be said to fit all of these categories: A Mighty Wind. A Mighty Wind is a documentary about the making of a tribute concert for the folk music promoter Irving Steinbloom. In the film, Steinbloom may not have been the finest human being, but he did play a key role in the launching of the folk music revival of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Don’t feel bad if you never heard of Steinbloom; the film as actually a brilliantly executed satire of that revival, and the story and characters are fictional. The satire is gentle and loving, with many of the groups featured having obvious real world models. The Folksmen, for example, are based on pop folk groups of the actual revival, such as the Limelighters and the Kingston Trio, and the impression is spot on.

The Folksmen are played by actors Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer. They made their first appearance on a sketch in a 1984 episode of Saturday Night Live, and would later appear as the occasional opening act for the also fictitious metal group Spinal Tap. Astute readers may notice that both groups share the same lineups. Spinal Tap also were featured in a mock documentary, this one called This is Spinal Tap, and both films were directed by Guest. All of the songs were written by cast members.

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