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That High Lonesome Sound
That High Lonesome Sound
Director: John Cohen
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Educational, Documentary
NR     2002     1hr 10min

Preserving a musical culture that has all but vanished from the hills of Appalachia, this compilation of films by musician-documentarian John Cohen offers a rich portrait of rural life in the early 1960s. Old practitione...  more »


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Movie Details

Director: John Cohen
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Educational, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Country, Pop, Educational, Biography, History
Format: DVD - Black and White
DVD Release Date: 08/27/2002
Original Release Date: 01/01/1960
Theatrical Release Date: 00/00/1960
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 10min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Best film i ever seen about the early developement of bluegr
Tony Thomas | 06/25/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I heard about this video in "bluegrass unlimited" where it was advertised. A friend brought it home from a visit to the states, and I borrowed it and kept it for ½ year. I saw it twice in 14 days and kept coming back for more wiewings. I knew that I had to have it. It is a must for everyone who loves bluegrass and old time music."
A Journey into the Past, into the future, music people wow
Tony Thomas | SUNNY ISLES BEACH, FL USA | 09/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I've seen this about 5 times since it came out in the late 1960sd, all three viedos. I've even dined with the film maker and heard a couple of the people in it perform live. BUY THIS, OWN THIS, PLAY THIS, REMEMBER THIS. This is now 40 years old, and it shows old people hanging on to culture that would have died had it not been for the folk revival and people like John Cohen who made these films. There are actually three films here: one on Roscoe Holcomb the geat banjo, harmonica, and guitar player and singer, one on Dillard Chandler, a ballad singer, and one a reunion of the Maybelle and Sarah Carter. The films about Holcomb and Dillard splice in scenes of their real life working, not having work, of the hard times that hit the coal fields and the mountains in Kennedy's America. It also speaks of a life probably gone, that some of us don't miss because of its miseries, but is part of our struggle. The log shack with newspapers on the wall, the white holy roller church scenes that remind me of haitian half-voodo, half Afro-Christians, playing music on the front porch while someone buck dances. But the world is creeping in. The Roscoe's grandchild is trying to do the Chubby Checker's twist to Roscoe's banjo playing. Dillard tries to sing his balleds in a beer parlor but they want the Nashville Juke Box honky tonk, we do see Bill Monroe and the gang on the steps of the Hazard County city hall--and what did this have to do with the bloody strikes asnd union wars going on then!!!!!--preserving part of this. However, this is not bluegrass, but prebluegrass, in Chandler's case really pre pre bluegrass, you see him and his peers singing songs that belong in the 14, 15, or 16 centuries.

This is real music performed in the real world by real people. Even if you don't like old time country music, this is worth the money for what it shows about a community and a world in struggle. Even if this is foreign to you, this is the real America many of our grandparents and great grand parents lived in. The struggle is where the music comes from. More on the Carters in a separate note."
Sara and maybelle and maybelle and sara wow
Tony Thomas | SUNNY ISLES BEACH, FL USA | 09/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This film is NOT ABOUT BLUEGRASS. The only injection of Bluegrass is the contrast between the lack of fame of the old time performers here and Bill Monroe's Bluegrass band playing down on the public square. These are films of pre Bluegrass performers, Particularly in the world of Dillard Chandler and Roscoe Holcomb, who were not commercial stars like Maybelle and Sara Carter, life was pretty hard. The main impact for Roscoe, a laid off partially disabled miner, when he got invited to perform for folk music festivals and concerts, was he got cut off the county relief that was his real support.

The big contrast here is between the gems these musicians still possess and the ingress of rock, rockabilly, country, and bluegrass sweeping aside the traditional music that they preserved. How many others were there like them off in these mountaisn in those days who weren't documented, filmed, recorded, and didn't get a chance to sing their songs to cameras, to microphones, and to new generations who wanted to hear these ancient tones.

This is a set of three films, one on Dillard Chandler, one on Roscoe Holcomb, and the last a reunion in Virginia of Maybelle and Sara Carter, two sisters in law and cousins as well who were the musical stars of the Original Carter Family. They are drawn together again after starting out in the late 20s with the late A.P. and separating when Sara went off to live in Northern California with her second husband.

They play 3 or 4 songs, and you hear more of their early work. You seem them relating together musically, personally. If you are into the history, the music the culture, even if it is only lately with the new books on the Carters or on Ralph Peer, this is interesing, real people real expression. What an intimate thing playing music is after decades. Shot in the early 1960s, you see the decade or two they had spent apart being covered over. You see delight, but also professionalism. They aren't back porch entertainers but folks who sold millions of records who ranged from New York City to Mexico perfoprming. In fact, both Maybelle and Sara were known as perfectionists in the studio.

In Maybelle's part this helped her become the person who really got Chet Atkins into the paying side of country music when she hired him. No one else but Maybelle understood and went along with Chester's desires to redo every take until it was gotten right, or to rerecord a 30 minutes radio program (the only way to do it before tape was available) because of one wrong note.

I was really thrilled to see Maybelle playing not just the regular Carter style, but doing The Cannon Ball, a Blues orinted finger picked tune that she still smoked.
This video is well worth about 10 times the price."