Everyone knows about the popular SXSW music festival that happens every year in Austin, Texas. The city that spawned such iconic acts as Janis Joplin and Stevie Ray Vaughn is still at the center of modern music—but it’s changing. Echotone follows a handful of new bands trying to make a career happen amongst the shifting cityscape and economy of Austin. The movie features roots-rock upstart Black Joe Lewis, synth-pop singer Cari Palazzolo, and many more.
Give Me the Banjo (2011)
The banjo has been making a significant comeback in the last couple of years. Bluegrass festivals are popping up all over the place and groups like Balmorhea are using the instrument in new ways. In that band’s case, think avant-garde jazz/Appalachia. Narrated by one of today’s best banjo players, Steve Martin—that’s right, the comedian—and featuring Bela Fleck, Give Me the Banjo takes a look at the importance of the instrument in American musical history.
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco (2002)
This documentary follows the making of Wilco’s breakthrough album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, a record Rolling Stone Magazine rated third best of the last decade. The film is an intimate look into the mind of lead singer Jeff Tweedy and the struggles that came with recording the experimental alt-country album. It’s not just for hardcore Wilco fans—it exposes viewers to the creative process of making an album and the realities of the industry.
Tegan and Sara: Get Along (2011)
Whether you have or have not attended a concert by Canadian duo Tegan and Sara, the concert film Get Along is a must see. Known for their angst-filled minimalist synth-rock, Tegan and Sara reprise their 2006 film It’s Not Fun. Don’t Do It! with a collection of performances from India and the United States. The result is a film that highlights their hilarious personalities and chronicles the intimate details of their lives on the road.
They Came to Play (2008)
Get immersed in the lives of classical piano players as they prepare for the 2007 International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs. They Came to Play chronicles the practicing prior to the contest, and the wildly interesting personalities of these sometimes eccentric performers. The competition itself is filled with excitement, and you might be surprised at just how invested you become in the artists and their quests to win.