dtm | ct USA | 02/24/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As someone who had heard so much about the Wetlands venue, and never been there this dvd caught my attention right away. In addition i am a huge fan of alot of the bands featured on both the cover and in the description. After coming across this at a local music store and reading the backside "featuring performances by:" i was excited to view this. I did expect this to be a documentary and not a series of live performances, however this movie is 1 and 1/2 hours long featuring VERY VERY little in the way of live footage. It is mostly interviews and photos, a moving collage of past shows with backing music. The content IS interesting but it is drawn out way too long. About half-way through this, the interviews fell flat, re-hashing alot of the same memories, and with almost no live footage (small breif clips only a few times) it becomes very boring to watch. In conclusion, condense this into a 45min film and its quite good. The Wetlands was a very cool place and time, worthy of recognition- but if your ever interested in knowing more, ill let you borrow my copy of this anytime- i wont be watching it again."
A loving, well-done tribute to a musical hallmark
The Delite Rancher | Phoenix, Arizona | 05/18/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was fortunate enough to visit the Wetlands. It had a near and dear place in my heart as the venue was an incubator for the third generation jamband scene. One might think that a city the size of New York would have hosted many such environments, but the Wetlands stood alone. In "Wetlands Preserved: the story of an Activist Rock Club," owners Larry and Laura Bloch passionately discuss the club's environmental activities. A loving narrative is given about the origins of the Wetlands' famous VW bus. Currently, the bus rests in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Back in the day, I was always baffled by what seemed a schizophrenic inclusion of hardcore and hip hop bands. After hearing Larry Bloch's explanation, it all makes sense and makes him even more endearing. It's all here as the film includes pieces on the colorful bathrooms, conflicts with neighbors and the transfer of ownership to Peter Shapiro. One of the least known causalities of September 11, 2001, the club's demise is shown. The multitude of interviews include the thoughts of Bob Weir (Grateful Dead), Rob Baracco (Phil & Friends), Dave Mathews, Eric Wilson (Sublime), Al Schnier & Rob Derhak (moe.), Warren Haynes (Gov't Mule), Jon Gutwillig (Disco Biscuits), Robert Hunter, Jimmy G. (Murphy's Law), Mike Gordon (Phish) and local thinkers, patrons and activists. The vast and eclectic interviews show that this documentary was a labor of love that had been under construction for years. In terms of the soundtrack, all of the music featured in "Wetlands Preserved" was actually recorded at the venue. Musical vignettes are given to Blues Traveler, Sublime, Phish and moe. Surprisingly, the production is excellent. Live video footage is augmented with photographs that are embellished with the hippest digital effects. It is surprising that so many of the venue's photos, videos and flyers still exist. The attention to detail is impeccable as background graphics even feature the uniquely stylized schedules. Long before the Internet, these Village Voice schedules were how heads found out about who was playing at the Wetlands. For anyone who was fortunate enough to experience the Wetlands, this film will bring back a flood of memories. That written, the music and production is strong enough that "Wetlands Preserved" will be a highly entertaining experience for those who've only recently heard of the musical hallmark."
A Passionate Documentary about the first (and only) socially
Steven I. Ramm | Phila, PA USA | 06/15/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
Unlike the previous reviewer, I never had a chance to attend a concert at the Wetlands. And, to be honest, some of the performers who made their name don't fall in to favorite music genres (but others do).
Larry and Laura Bloch had a vision to combine environmental and political issues with the new music finding it's way in the culture in the 1990s. And, from all accounts, they succeeded. They formed a non-profit corporation to run the club and all the profits were funneled back into the club, making it bigger and better. Yes, there was music but there were also social causes to be won.
Like Larry, who basically narrates the film through the interviews with him, Director Dean Budnick wants the world to know how important this club was. (well, it was!), There are lengthy interviews with former club employees as well as members of some of the bands like Dave Matthews. The music in the background was all recorded at the club and there is some brief concert footage. But, there lies the one defect in this film. There's way too little footage included - was it all destroyed? - and so the 90 minute film keeps repeating the same memories of the same interviewees a bit too long. You'll certainly enjoy watching this once - especially if these are the bands you admire - but probably won't return to it again. For this reason I deducted a star from an otherwise well done film about a time and place that now stands empty in lower Manhattan.