Search - Bill Monroe - The Father of Bluegrass Music on DVD

Bill Monroe - The Father of Bluegrass Music
Bill Monroe - The Father of Bluegrass Music
Director: Steve Gebhardt
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Documentary
NR     1999     1hr 31min

With acoustic string components that stretch across centuries and a "high lonesome" vocal signature that evokes windblown mountain tops, bluegrass music sounds like an artifact of a pre-industrial America. Yet, for all it...  more »


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Movie Details

Director: Steve Gebhardt
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Concerts, Country, Documentary
Studio: Winstar
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 06/29/1999
Original Release Date: 01/01/1999
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1999
Release Year: 1999
Run Time: 1hr 31min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

A note from the writer/co-producer
Larry Nager | 03/27/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Hi, Larry Nager here. I wrote and co-produced Bill Monroe: The Father of Bluegrass Music and I would like to clear up a few things.
First, as to Ms. crmchs, yes, the documentary is NOT a concert film. It was never meant to be and it clearly says so on the box. Steve Gebhardt has been a film-maker since the '60s, working most notably with John Lennon and Yoko Ono as well as the Rolling Stones. My background includes more than 20 years as a music journalist (I am currently music critic for The Cincinnati Enquirer). I also wrote the Book Memphis Beat (1998 St. Martin's Press) and I have been a musician since I was 14, around 35 years ago. I played bass with Red Allen & the Kentuckians for several years and was a member of the Allen-Lilly Band. Some of those recordings can be heard on the Smithsonian-Folkways CD Classic Bluegrass and the label's Red Allen collection. I've also performed with such bluegrass and country greats as Curly Sechler, Johnny Gimble, Josh Graves, Frank Wakefield, Kenny Baker, Marty Stuart, Red Rector and currently perform with Tony Ellis and his son, William Lee Ellis.

In other words, we do know the difference between a concert film and a music documentary. And no, we didn't try to make a concert film and it somehow turned into a documentary. It was a documentary from the start, albeit one with a lot of music, including a rare reunion with Mr. Monroe, Del McCoury, Bill Keith and Chubby Wise. For any true bluegrass fan, that alone is worth the price of the DVD. Criticizing it for not being a concert film is a little bit like saying Hamlet was Shakespeare's least successful comedy.
Concerning the Eastern/Western Kentucky controversy cited in another critique, the misconception came from a typo on the cover notes, which was never corrected.
As to working on the film, it was a true labor of love for all involved and, for myself, getting to know Mr. Monroe on a one-to-one basis will always be one of the highlights of my life. Even in his 80s he was completely engaged, leading his band, writing new music every day, flirting with every pretty woman in the room. He knew the secret of life.(and I apologize for the five stars, but they wouldn't run the text without it)."
Excellent documentary on Monroe's life and music
Gary Bisaga | Leesburg, VA USA | 07/21/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I love this video. Let me say first you will not get a lot of critical information on Bill Monroe. This is no Monroe exposé. Don't expect "Monroe - the man nobody knew."Rather, this is a video by people who know and love the music, Monroe, and the lifestyle the music comes out of. The John Hartford porch-swing interviews with Monroe are priceless and fill in little bits of information gathered from reading books like Rosenberg's excellent "Bluegrass: A History." The combination interviews/picking sessions with Ricky Skaggs around the campfire really make you want to be there with them. Interviews with everybody from Chubby Wise to Emmy Lou Harris and Marty Stuart show their love and respect for Monroe (although you also see their sides of some of the controversies surrounding Monroe). The live recording of songs with Del McCoury like "I'm On My Way Back to the Old Home" (the first Monroe song I ever sang lead on, and still one of my favorite Monroe songs) add a great deal. (Was that actually Monroe's childhood home shown as a backdrop to that song?) Finally, the scene with Lester Flatt and Monroe onstage together in 1979 (not sure of the date, but not that long before Flatt died) nearly brings a tear to my eye every time I watch it.If you love the music and the people who make it, you'll watch this video again and again."
A great documentary!
Andrew Barron | Gold Beach, OR | 06/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This film is so well done. We all know Bill Monroe is 'the man', but this film shows you some of the why. I knew it was going to be good when it opened with Bill sitting down on a porch swing, taking out his old mandolin, and playing "Tombstone Junction". Other nice moments are the humor and charisma of Bobby Osbourne. If you like Bill Monroe, this will deepen your appreciation for him. The film flows so well, I watched twice in a row! As an added bonus, the DVD is relatively inexpensive."
Can't Get Enough of Bill Monroe
Carmen Claypool | Mid Missouri | 10/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I regret that I came to love bluegrass music after the death of Bill Monroe, I would have so loved to see him live in concert. This DVD helped me understand what it would have been like to see him in concert, as well as to sit down on the porch swing and talk to him for awhile.

This DVD was great, wish there were more bluegrass DVDs available."