Reviews for "American Roots Music"
Billboard Magazine - Cover Article
By Chris Morris
"The series is highlighted by some frankly astonishing footage of great rarity, featuring stunning performances by late masters like Bob Wills, Son House, Howlin' Wolf, Mississippi John Hurt and Sonny Boy Williamson."
Smithsonian Magazine - Cover Article
By Marlane A. Liddell
"The story of that uniquely American gumbo of sounds that welcomes all to the table."
The Los Angeles Times - Cover Article
By Robert Hilburn
"'American Roots Music' offers a stirring look at this movement, which started on the fringes of mainstream pop but eventually shattered pop's timid boundaries. As engaging as the story of roots music itself is the way contemporary artists speak about its influences."
"'American Roots Music' is a valuable report on a musical evolution that stands as one of the great examples of cultural diversity as social strength."
The Wall Street Journal
By Dave Shiflett
"The timing couldn't be better. The documentary and its companion volume come at a moment when Americans are counting on the many blessings that sustain us - and distinguish us from our foes."
"'American Roots Music' features evocative portraits of major roots figures..."
"Indeed, the Voice of America should transmit some of these tunes into the Taliban regions. It would scare the hell out of them and further convince them they're messing with the wrong people.
By Michael Freidson
"The result should not only entertain fans of the genre, but also introduce the history to a younger generation who probably only know the roots of American music from Moby remixes and the Coen brothers movie O Brother Where Art Thou."
The Hollywood Reporter
By Tony Gieske
"A mighty torrent of soulůSenior editor Sam Pollard has tamed the outpouring and channels it with remarkable clarity, making it plain how one thing led to another."
By Lynn Elber
"Jim Brown's earlier films turned out to be appetizers. In 'American Roots Music,' he lays out the whole rich banquet, tracing roots and evolution of folk, gospel, country, bluegrass, zydeco, tejano and American Indian music."
By J. Poet
"The footage Brown, Pollard and company collected for "American Roots Music" is mind blowing."
By Jenny Eliscu
"Rarely seen archival footage and still photos are the film's greatest coup."
By Edna Gundersen
"There's lots to dig in 'American Roots' (3 1/2 out of 4 stars)"
"'American Roots Music' chronicles the explosion and permutations of roots music through dazzling archival footage and a steady stream of talking heads who relate the events with graceful storytelling rather than dry scholarship."
The Washington Post
By Richard Harrington
"Brown deftly interweaves music, interviews and overview."
The Daily News
By David Hinckley
"When producers tackle a topic as broad as 'American Roots Music,' their most painful decision is what to leave out. Do they try to mention everyone and run the risk of ending up with a long, superficial list? Or do they concentrate on the big names, hoping these stories will convey the larger point? Producer/director Jim Brown takes the second path and walks it well."
Boston Sunday Globe
By Scott Alarik
"...brisk, insightful, and legend-packedů"
"...a wonderfully flirtatious epic meant to whet our appetites and testify to how all our modern pop genres - rock, country, pop, rap - grew from these old, alluringly raw, and emotionally straight-shooting traditional music forms."
By Noel Hoston
"The annotators are a Who's Who of rock and roots musicians, among them Bonnie Raitt, Sweet Honey in the Rock's Bernice Johnson-Reagon, Earl Scruggs, Mavis Staples and Keith Richards. And the vintage film clips that the producers managed to scrounge are nothing short of amazing."
The Philadelphia Inquirer
By Tom Moon
"There's a lavish and detailed book, a four-disc boxed set of essential recordings (including many pieces not heard in the series) as well as a single-disc sampler, and a two-DVD set with additional performance material, all reaching stores this week. But the project is also an incredible repository of scholarship on the roots, and the less-obvious branches, that distinguish what Brown calls 'this very direct and human American working-class music.'"
The Kansas City Star
By Timothy Finn
"...riveting archival footage that brings to life icons like Bessie Smith, Muddy Waters, Son House, Howlin' Wolf, Mississippi John Hurtů"
The Charlotte Observer
By Woody Mitchell
"This remarkable series brings home the fact that contemporary music wasn't created in a vacuum - it was built on an evolution of forms as rich and diverse as American itself."
The New Orleans Times-Picayune
By Dave Walker
"...a cool new overview of America's most home-grown music."
The Tacoma News Tribune
By Bart Ripp
"Our vernacular music is an aural cornucopia that has been lovingly explored in 'American Roots Music.'"
By Nate Guidry
"...a wonderful synthesis of music, photographs, archival film clips and interviews with artists as diverse as Muddy Waters, Mahalia Jackson, Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Bonnie Raitt, Marty Stuart and Gillian Welch."
"All told, the four-hour series is time well spent: you'll hear some great music and get an education in the process."
3 stars - "The good times roll."
By David Yonke
"Howlin' Wolf plays guttural blues; Mahalia Jackson sings angelic gospel; Woody Guthrie uses folk songs for social commentary; Earl Scruggs plucks the bluegrass banjo with blinding speed; Flaco Jimenez is the accordion king of tejano music; R. Carlos Nakai creates ethereal magic with the Native American flute. Their differences reflect the nation's cultural diversity, and their styles blend together in perfect harmony on 'American Roots Music.'"
The Memphis Commercial Appeal
By Tom Walter
"Through a remarkable set of vintage still and film images, archival recordings, interviews and current performances, the four-part series shows how this music has seeped into our consciousness, enriching us all."