The Wallflowers' Jakob Dylan explores the origins of the "Laurel Canyon" sound that shaped a generation and continues to influence modern musicians.
No one can quite explain it, but magical things tend to happen when a perfect storm of talent find themselves in the same place at the same time. Look to phenomenons like Motown music, Louisiana Jazz, or to the alternative-grunge sound that came out of Seattle in the 90s for examples.
But if you're looking for the "big bang" when it comes to folk rock, look no further than Laurel Canyon, a suburb of Los Angeles, California, where in the mid-to-late 60s, you could find bands such as The Beach Boys, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Jim Morrison, The Eagles, Frank Zappa, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and The Mama and the Papas. What was going on in Laurel Canyon during this time period even influenced bands like The Beatles, who name The Byrds as one of their influences, and whose Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Album - often regarded as the best album ever recorded - only came about once they heard Brian Wilson's "Pet Sounds" Album and wanted to top it.
This friendly rivalry between all of these legends elevated folk rock into the stratosphere, and in the documentary, "Echo in the Canyon," The Wallflowers' front-man - and son of Bob Dylan - Jakob Dylan goes on a soulful exploration. Side-stepping his dad (apparently Jakob doesn't feel comfortable being associated with the poster-child of folk rock), Jakob gets together with other current artists like Beck, Jade, Fiona Apple, Norah Jones, Cat Power and Regina Spektor to discuss what these bands meant, and what exactly was so special about Laurel Canyon nearly over 50 years ago.
In the process, he interviews those still standing from the era, like Eric Clapton, Roger McGuinn, Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas, Jackson Browne, David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash (missing is Neil Young) ...he even catches up with Ringo Starr and Brian Wilson. In his last on-screen interview, Tom Petty also plays a big part in this documentary, explaining to us how to pronounce the iconic "Rickenbacker" guitar brand (It's "Ricken-BACK-er," not "Ricken-BAHK-er," for the record).
The doc is framed by live performances that Jakob Dylan held with all of the aforementioned current musicians, where he sits down with a subject and then ends up playing a cover of their classic tunes. For all of the reverence of the past artists that are featured, Dylan is sort of a dry host...he doesn't show much emotion on or off stage.
That being said, "Echo in the Canyon" is a great trip down memory lane, and a rockin' exploration of the folk rock explosion. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime amalgam of talent, and their echos can still be heard in musicians like Jakob Dylan, who keep the sound reverberating for future generations.
Genre: Documentary, Music.
Run Time: 1 h our 22 minutes.
Featuring: Jakob Dylan, Tom Petty, Ringo Starr, David Crosby, Eric Clapton, Michelle Phillips, Beck, Regina Spektor, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Cat Power.
Directed by Andrew Slater (producer/writer/director, feature-film debut).
"Echo in the Canyon" is in limited-release starting Friday, June 28th, 2019.
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