BLUEGRASS JOURNEY TO APPEAR ON PBS
October 1, 2005 BLUEGRASS JOURNEY will be appearing on PBS stations
nationally. To date, almost 200 stations have broadcast the program,
with a combined reach of 85% of television viewing households in
the US. The movie has aired in virtually all major markets and in
many cases has been carried by all stations reaching a particular
market, so may be viewed at multiple times in your area. Since each
station independently determines when it will air the program, the
show will be broadcast on different dates and times by different
stations; interested viewers should check local listings.
DVD of The Year Nominee
JOURNEY was nominated for the prestigious Jammy Award as 2005 DVD
Of The Year. The 5th Annual Jammys Awards Show and All-Star Concert
was held April 26, 2005 at Madison Square Garden in NYC. Founded
as an alternative to mainstream award shows and produced by Relix
Magazine, Jambands.com and producer/promoter Peter Shapiro, The
Jammys is a celebration of the best in live improvisational music
performance that pairs the brightest lights on the burgeoning jam
music scene with stars from the pop, rock, reggae, gospel and jazz
realms. In its first four years, The Jammys has become one of New
York City 's premiere annual live music events and one of the top
grassroots music events in the world. This year's show was hosted
by Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh.
Kennedy's new film wins big at Sundance
JOURNEY editor and co-director Nancy Kennedy's follow-up film WHY
WE FIGHT was awarded the 2005 American Documentary Grand Jury Prize
at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Congratulations
to Nancy! Her work is no less spectacular in BLUEGRASS JOURNEY.
JOURNEY available on DVD
JOURNEY is available on DVD and VHS. See SALES.
BLUEGRASS JOURNEY T-Shirts, in a variety of sizes and colors, are
also available for purchase; SALES.
Big Screen - WHERE IT'S PLAYING
are no presently scheduled theatrical showings of BLUEGRASS JOURNEY
is a list of where BLUEGRASS JOURNEY has already played.
is a link to a recent article that (other than a factual error
in the very first words of the article - about Bill "and Charlie"
Monroe forming the Blue Grass Boys!) gives a nice profile of Ruth
& Rob - the filmmakers behind BLUEGRASS JOURNEY
“... casts a loving eye on players and fans alike... The music is
exciting and the images are striking...” – Bluegrass Unlimited
combines backstage footage, interviews,
and extended performances ...a lovingly detailed portrait
of the music and those at the forefront of making it."
- 2004 Florida Film Festival
"Stunning footage & musical brilliance... the perfect marriage
marvelous cinema and music." - The Nashville City Paper
a toe-tapping trip..." 2004 Filmfest DC
"... a genuine crowd-pleaser..." - Variety
exuberant, lovingly captured footage..."
- Washington City Paper
priceless performance footage and thoughtful interviews..."
- Poughkeepsie Journal
"... makes you think, teaches stuff, lifts the heart."
- 2003 Williamstown Film Festival
DVD experience that deserves special mention is a recent music film,
Bluegrass Journey (Blue Stores Films BSF001), which my family and
I came to enjoy so much that we watched it four or five times while
our little two-channel home theater was up and running. Bluegrass
Journey is a skillfully edited documentary that gives a real taste
of what a modern bluegrass festival is all about, and it captures
some of the finest performers in the field—including the Del McCoury
Band, Tim O'Brien, Nickel Creek, Peter Rowan, and Tony Rice—with
remarkably good camerawork and sound.
Tue, Apr. 13, 2004
A Bluegrass Films production. Produced by Ruth Oxenberg, Rob Schumer.
Executive producer, Gill Holland. Directed by Ruth Oxenberg, Rob
Schumer. Co-director, Nancy Kennedy.
With: The Del McCoury Band, Tim O'Brien, Chris Thile, Jerry Douglas,
Peter Rowan, Tony Rice, Nickel Creek, Rhonda Vincent.
By RONNIE SCHEIB
From the outset, Ruth Oxenberg's and Rob Schumer's "Bluegrass Journey"
makes it clear bluegrass is a musical form that lights its own fires.
In docu's virtuoso opening number, musicians trade lively riffs,
their enthusiasm undampened by a virtual monsoon raging just beyond
the makeshift stage where audience members soak up the music with
the rain. Alternating between joyous performances and off-the-cuff
commentaries by the musicians themselves -- often supplemented with
instrumental illustration, "Journey" has already proven itself a
genuine crowd-pleaser at fests. Pic should resonate on music-themed
cable, particularly given bluegrass' Hollywood-spawned popularity
following "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
A good chunk of the docu takes place at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival
in Ancramdale, N.Y., a down-home outdoorsy weekend event where families
camp out, impromptu ensembles jam in parking lots, and fans and
performers mingle at mandolin workshops. Oxenberg and Schumer also
travel to Louisville for the International Bluegrass Music
Assn.'s annual convention and awards ceremony, where the relatively
sterile hotel setting is offset by hang-loose all-night music sessions
in lobby corners and open-door hotel suites.
Bluegrass is an anomaly in that it claims a dizzying array of musical
influences (Gospel, Celtic, African) yet credits only a single source,
Bill Monroe, with inventing the sound. In its sampling of talking-head
subjects, pic manages to touch all the bases, history-wise.
In performance, however, concrete representations of various key
bluegrass influences are catch as catch can, Oxenberg and Schumer
opting for availability over balance. This leads to some odd, unwitting
emphases: the Celtic strain comes through loud and clear, while
the sole illustrated link to black music goes from Chuck Berry backward
to Monroe; mandolins are madly plucked left, right and center, but
banjos, usually strongly associated with bluegrass, are strangely
At the same time, docu samples a broad spectrum of bluegrass styles,
from traditional family groups like Del McCoury band to the more
experimental strains of Nickel Creek, with certain standout musicians,
like Jerry Douglas on guitar and Chris Thile on mandolin, and Tim
O'Brien on a variety of instruments, sitting in on several sessions.
Tech credits are fine for a DV-shot docu, the sound quality particularly
to rise on 18th Filmfest
DC, pleasantly timed to coincide with the dogwoods and azaleas,
while providing a homey alternative to the Cannes Film Festival
in May, is poised to return for its 18th annual edition at several
To some extent, the festival always recommends itself as a first
and last look at titles destined to make little or no impression
on the theatrical marketplace. Years later, it can be gratifying
to recall some festival selection that deserved a wider audience...
The single most satisfying title in an assortment of preview tapes
was "Bluegrass Journey." A fond summary of the annual Grey Fox Bluegrass
Festival in upstate New York, "Bluegrass" is enhanced by superlative
individual numbers from the Del McCoury Band, Nickel Creek and solo
guitarist Tony Rice, who pulls a slow-tempo switch and mesmerizes
everyone with a serene, contemplative instrumental.
The family feeling among bluegrass musicians is eloquently confirmed
by Del McCoury and son Ronnie, among others. There's also a genuinely
hilarious guest appearance by Dolly Parton during a gala awards
show. "Bluegrass Journey" is booked for showings at the American
Film Institute Silver Theatre on April 23 and 24.
April 23–29, 2004
Talk About The Passion
...or don't: Mel isn't the only one keeping the faith. These films
are about folks whose spirituality moves them, whether they believe
in bluegrass, beings who live in rocks, or even the Big Guy Himself.
Documentarians Ruth Oxenberg and Rob Schumer know how to deliver
on a title: Bluegrass Journey gives us lots and lots of
bluegrass, and it is indeed played on the road. The action takes
place mostly at the annual Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in Ancramdale,
N.Y., where the scene is basically music festival as cult. Though
it offers the crappy weather conditions, artery-clogging food, and
preponderance of shirtless wonders typical of sonic get-togethers,
the most notable characteristic of Grey Fox is the utter dedication
of its participants. Bluegrass Journey goes heavy on the
performances, including turns by the Del McCoury Band, Tim O'Brien,
and the "newgrass" Nickel Creek, whose way-animated wunderkind,
Chris Thile, rocks a mandolin with all the blissed-out theatrics
of a windmilling ax man. O'Brien also provides much of the film's
commentary, taking viewers back to the roots of bluegrass in the
'30s and '40s and gushing that the Bill Monroe–pioneered music is
"honest" and "from the heart." The prevailing idea here is that
once you start listening to and playing bluegrass, you're hooked.
(As one enthusiast gushes: "You're a slave to it.") After watching
Oxenberg and Schumer's exuberant, lovingly captured footage—including
one scene of a purple-togged couple getting married at the fest—you'll
understand, even if you aren't quite ready to get on the road to
Glory Land yourself.
Bluegrass Journey is
one fine film about our
favorite festival, music
By Paul Della Valle, The Mothertown Monthly (Central Massachusetts)
On a cold evening in April, a bunch of us bluegrass aficionados
were hanging out at our house when I popped a review copy of Bluegrass
Journey into the DVD player and turned up the stereo. Immediately,
everyone in the house ran into the living room as mandolin ace Chris
Thile and dobro master Jerry Douglas started trading mindblowing
licks. Soon images of the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, held annually
in July in the New York Berkshires filled the screen. I can t
wait, Matt Carlen of Clinton said. Man, I just can t wait.
Matt is a fine guitar player in a great band called Acoustic Planet
and, like most everyone else in the room that night, a veteran camper/picker
of at least a dozen Grey Fox Festivals. We all love Grey Fox the
biggest bluegrass festival held in the Northeast each summer and
we all love bluegrass music. After watching Bluegrass Journey
for just a few minutes, it became obvious to us that Bluegrass
Journey directors and producers Ruth Oxenberg and Rob Schumer
feel the same way. Their documentary, shot mostly at Grey Fox in
2000, is a true labor of love and, more than that, a truly great
film about this true and ever-growing American art form. The camera
work, particularly during the on-stage performances, is outstanding
and the sound quality of the DVD couldn t be better. When Del McCoury
and his boys, the reigning kings of bluegrass, rip into Love is
a Long Road there s not a foot in the world that could resist
tapping. The Bluegrass Journey DVD is a must-buy, not just
for bluegrass fans, but for all music fans. The documentary is as
entertaining and as soul-satisfying as a great set at Grey Fox while
the sun goes down behind the mountains, but it also does a great
job of explaining what the music, its evolution and its current
popularity is all about. Oxenberg and Schumer accomplish that through
the performances and through the words of the players and fans,
young and old. Guitar, fiddle, banjo, mandolin and the bass and
harmony singing, Del s son Ronnie McCoury tells the camera. It
s kind of like folk music in overdrive. ... It s not commercial
music and you re not selling a million records, but because you
love it so much, that s the reason you do it. The film includes
performances from a great range of what we call bluegrass today.
There s a ripping version of Sitting on Top of the World by
Bob Paisley and the Southern Grass, a band that still does it much
like bluegrass inventor Bill Monroe was doing it back in the 40s.
But because Monroe incorporated so many influences into his music
Scottish, Irish, African, country, blues and gospel bluegrass
is still growing into new and wonderful forms, kind of like pumpkin
seeds thrown into a fertile compost pile. Particularly interesting
among many other performances are Buddy Merriam and Back Roads singing
Jimmy Martin s old chestnut Hit Parade of Love at their campsite
at Grey Fox, Peter Rowan, Jerry Garcia s Old and in the Way buddy,
renewing his Hobo Song with his Texas Trio along with Tony Rice
and Douglas, and Thile s band Nickel Creek, mostly 20-something
kids, tearing it up on Old Cold Coffee on the Dashboard. "It's
kind of like an old tree that has new branches on it, Pete Dr.
Banjo Wernick, formerly of Hot Rize, says. You still hear groups
like Dry Branch Fire Squad that have a direct connection to that
old hillbilly sound. A lot of people want to hear that, it s their
favorite kind of bluegrass. And then you hear a lot of the younger,
long-haired bands incorporating rock and roll sounds into what they
re doing. That s welcomed too. It is getting to be a bigger and
bigger tree. Bluegrass Journey follows one of bluegrass'
most respected singer/songwriter/pickers, Tim O'Brien, from the
Grey Fox stage, where he sings a selfpenned but traditional-sounding
ballad with Darrell Scott, to a club in Knoxville where he performs
with the Crossing, a band he put together after traveling to Ireland
to explore the connection between bluegrass and its Celtic forbears.
When O'Brien sings harmony with Karan Casey on What Does the Deep
Sea Say?, a tune that Bill Monroe once recorded with his bother
his brother Charlie Monroe, you'ld swear they were in a club in
Dublin, not Tennessee. In addition to the performances shot at the
club and the vast majority of scenes shot at Grey Fox, Bluegrass
Journey also includes some footage from the International Bluegrass
Music Association's annual convention in Louisville. Those scenes
show Rhonda Vincent and the Lonesome River Band playing on stage
and musicians jamming in hotel rooms. That stuff is all fine, but
the real highlights of the movie are all at Grey Fox on stage
and in the camping areas where people pick all day and all night,
socialize, drink beer and cook gourmet meals. The pagan wedding
in 2000 that is shown in the movie was real strange, even for Grey
Fox, but how could the filmmakers resist including it? Mostly Grey
Fox and the other bluegrass festivals that thrive in the summertime
are all about the music. As O Brien notes, bluegrass is most often
played un-amplified, in kitchens and on back porches, and outdoors
is its natural setting. The film is an absolute joy to watch. Bluegrass
Journey should come with a warning sticker that says something
like, Watching this movie may turn you into a bluegrass fanatic
and cause you to buy a banjo and pop-up camper and spend your summer
vacations traveling to Grey Fox and other bluegrass festivals.
Bluegrass Journey is that good and bluegrass the everchanging
American music and the ever-growing community that forms around
it is that addictive. Bluegrass is a strong spice, O Brien
notes. But once you get a taste for it, it kind of won t let you
go. The Bluegrass Journey DVD sells for $24.95 and on VHS
tape is $19.95. Write to Blue Store Films, 80 John Bay Road, Germantown
NY 12526 or go online at www.bluegrassjourney com. The film will
be shown and sold at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival on July 15-18.
of mouth: click
here to read what people are saying about BLUEGRASS JOURNEY
JOURNEY played at the Woodstock
Film Festival in Woodstock, NY, September 17 - 21, 2003. The
film was shown to a sold-out crowd as the opening night documentary
on September 18 at the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock, and then
showed again on September 20 at the Catskill Mountain Foundation
Theater in Hunter, NY.
To open the Woodstock Film Festival, and in celebration of BLUEGRASS
JOURNEY, Peter Rowan played to an enthusiastic crowd on September
17. Joining Peter for a stellar show were banjo
legend Bill Keith and fiddle masters
Jay Ungar and Larry Packer, as well as Tony Garnier (bass) and Jack
Dwyer (mandolin). Opening for Peter were Buddy Merriam & Back
Roads, who had the crowd "warmed-up" to a near frenzy.
Peter as well as Buddy and his bandmates are among the many featured
artists appearing in BLUEGRASS JOURNEY, and are shown in the film
playing and talking about bluegrass.
newspapers in the Hudson Valley of NY gave prominent coverage to
the film, to bluegrass music, and to various events surrounding
the film, such as Peter's concert and the Woodstock Film Festival.
Click here to
read an article in The Poughkeepsie Journal about Peter, the kick-off
concert for the Woodstock Film Festival, and BLUEGRASS JOURNEY.
The Journal, a major Hudson Valley newspaper, also ran an article
in association with showings of the film at Grey Fox (see below).
Click here to
read the article.
also were front page articles about the film and the Woodstock Film
Festival in Kingston, NY's Daily Freeman. Click
here to read them. Another article appeared in Hudson, NY's
here to read it.
BLUEGRASS JOURNEY showed for 4 nights at the Jacob
Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, NY, from July 14 - 17, 2003
at the After Dark Music Festival, a film festival devoted entirely
to films about music. Other films that showed in the festival included
D.A. Pennebaker's classic 1960's portrait of the touring Bob Dylan,
DON'T LOOK BACK; AMANDLA! A REVOLUTION IN FOUR-PART HARMONY; and
STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN. It also showed at the Williamstown
Film Festival in Williamstown, MA on November 2, 2003 (where it
was scheduled to play in the prestigious closing film slot, a spot
occupied last year by the much-celebrated SPELLBOUND), and at the
High Falls Film Festival in Rochester, NY on November 9, 2003 (where
it was one of only seven films to have sold out, from a total of
30 plus... and the audience cheered as it finished). The
film was a big hit at both of these events. It also showed at the
Reel Music Film Festival in Portland, OR on Jan 11, 2004.
BLUEGRASS JOURNEY was seen at the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival in
Framingham, MA (in 2004 & 2005); at the Big Sky Documentary
Film Festival in Missoula, MT, at the Wintergrass Bluegrass Festival,
in Tacoma, WA; at the Florida Film Festival in Orlando, FL; at the
East Lansing Film Festival at Michigan State University, East Lansing,
MI; at the Film Fleadh Festival in New York, NY; at the Crossroads
Film Festival in Jackson, MS; at the Palm Beach International Film
Festival in Palm Beach, FL; at the Boulder Theater in Boulder, CO;
and at the Washington, DC International Film Festival, where it
played at the wonderful Silver Theater of the American Film Institute
(see above for some reviews in Washington papers). It also recently
played at the Belcourt Theater in Nashville, TN; at the Bonnaroo
Music Festival in Manchester, TN; the Wind Gap Bluegrass Festival,
Wind Gap, PA; the River of Music Bluegrass Festival of the International
Bluegrass Music Museum, Owensboro, KY; the Gene Siskel Film Center
of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; the High Mountain
Hay Fever Bluegrass Festival, Westcliffe, CO; at Upstate Films in
Rhinebeck, NY; at the 2004 Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, in Ancramdale,
NY, where much of the film was shot in the year 2000; at Time &
Space Limited in Hudson, NY; at the Linda Norris Auditorium of WAMC
in Albany, NY; at the Podunk Bluegrass Festival in East Hartford,
CT; and at the opening night of the Maine International Film Festival,
in Waterville, ME. It also recently screened at the Rome International
Film Festival, Rome, GA (where it was in competition for the Best
American Documentary Feature Award); at the Atlantic Film Festival
in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; at the Mt. Shasta International
Film Festival in Mount Shasta, CA; at IndieMemphis Film Festival
in Memphis, TN; at the Hot Springs Film Festival in Hot Springs,
AR; at the Leeds International Film Festival in Leeds, England (the
European premier); at The Makor-Steinhardt Center of the 92nd Street-Y
in New York City; and at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY.
JOURNEY had its World Premier at the 2003 Maui
Film Festival in Maui, Hawaii. It screened on Saturday, June
14 at the Maui Digital SkyDome. Reports from several of those in
attendance were that it looked and sounded terrific.
one comment received from Maui: "Aloha, just wanted to tell
you congratulations on making what I believe to be the best film
on bluegrass ever! I saw the World Premier at the Maui Film Festival,
and LOVED it. Playing bluegrass and folk-gospel for over 40 years
- let me know when the dvds are out! God bless, Pastor Harry"
JOURNEY also showed at the 2003 International Bluegrass Music Association
(IBMA) annual World of Bluegrass
event in Louisville, KY. It showed twice, once to the trade membership
and again, later during the week, at Fan Fest. The Producers/Directors
of the film had a booth at IBMA and met attendees and discussed
with Grey Fox, these showings were especially fun since a large
part of the film was shot at IBMA's World of Bluegrass in 2000 (and
some in 2002). If you were there, you might be in the film!
news: a nicely done interview with BLUEGRASS JOURNEY producers/directors
Ruth Oxenberg and Rob Schumer appeared in the summer 2003 edition
Town, a local newspaper published in the area in which they
live. Check it out!
sure to check back here soon for announcements of other showings
and other news.