Friday, May 7, 2010

D.A. Pennebaker To Film The National

This morning, I had breakfast with my grandmother. As usual, she told stories about her childhood in Brooklyn: her father's barbershop quartet; her grandmother's job as a taxi dispatcher when cabs were still pulled by horses; the outer-borough cemeteries where our family is buried. And today I learned that my late grandfather once lived on Bedford Avenue, back in the days before irony. He did, however, have a penchant for plaid shirts, skinny pants, and porkpie hats. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. Or in the words of my great-grandmother: There are no new tricks.

Meanwhile, another lively character in his 80s, D.A. Pennebaker, is off to Brooklyn. On May 15, the legendary director (and his wife Chris Hegedus) are filming The National at BAM. The performance will be webcast on Youtube.

Pennebaker is the godfather of music documentarians, best known for Don’t Look Back, Monterey Pop, and Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars. (He and Hegedus also collaborated on The War Room, a look at Bill Clinton's rise to the presidency). His films include some of the most iconic moments in pop music history, from Dylan's flipping cards with the lyrics to 'Subterranean Homesick Blues' to Jimi Hendrix making sweet love to his amplifier then lighting his guitar on fire.

Bob Dylan -Subterranean Homesick Blues

Jimi Hendrix - Wild Thing (performance starts at 2:40)

Having filmed so many musical legends from previous generations, Pennebaker has done well to partner with The National. While they're not quite a household name, few indie acts have more stature and credibility, thanks to a decade of touring and recording and critical acclaim. The band recently performed on Jimmy Fallon and got the royal treatment in a New York Times profile. And their sixth record, High Violet, drops next week, and can be streamed now on NPR. It's been on repeat here at FP.

The show at BAM benefits the Red Hot Organization, which raises money to fight AIDS. Over the last decade, RHO has released twenty compilation albums, from the Cole Porter tribute Red Hot + Blue (1999) to the indie anthology Dark Was the Night (2009), produced by none other than the National's Aaron and Bryce Dessner.

With the Red Hot-Pennebaker combo, it's a decent assumption that other Dark Was The Night artists will join the National on stage. You might even start a pool with your pals. Think Kentucky Derby, but with the Dirty Projectors and Grizzly Bear instead of horses.

Meanwhile, Pennebaker is busy. His latest film Kings of Pastry, opens at the Film Forum in September. And in 2011, he and Hegedus will get the retrospective treatment at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria. May we all rock so hard in our old age.


No comments:

Post a Comment