FolkWorld #74 03/2021
© International Movie Data Base

Eva Noblezada & Dale Watson

Music on Silver Screen, Telly & Streaming Devices

John Hartford

His final Grammy was awarded posthumously, for his contributions to the landmark soundtrack for the 2000 Coen Brothers slapstick epic, O Brother, Where Art Thou? O Brother’s surprising popularity launched a bluegrass revival and also put a luminous bookend on Hartford’s career. Some years after the late great John Hartford passed on, his daughter Katie Harford Hogue wound up with his archival material. First came a 2018 book, John Hartford’s Mammoth Collection of Fiddle Tunes, featuring transcriptions of 176 compositions. That led to an accompanying album, The John Hartford Fiddle Tune Project, Vol. 1, featuring an all-star cast of players recording 17 of the archival Hartford songs.

Artist Video John Hartford @ FROG

Yellow Rose: The result of a collaborative writing process between the director Diane Paragas, country singer Dale Watson and Filipino-American singer and actress Thia Megia, the new original tracks are performed in the film by Watson and lead Eva Noblezada, a breakout star of Broadway’s hit smash Hadestown. “Diane brought me in very early in the process, which was essential as it allowed us to build an emotional thread throughout the film that would work alongside the wonderful songs she had written with Dale Watson. It was also important for the score to have its own voice. With that in mind, in addition to using traditional instrumentation, I created ambient atmospheres by processing Filipino folk instruments in unconventional ways to provide a rich sonic fabric that would support Rose’s inspirational journey.” (Christopher H. Knight)

Artist Video Dale Watson @ FROG

Hillbilly Elegy: “It was very important to us that the music helped tell the story in a way that embraced the culture and celebrated the grit and survival of the people at the center of the film, while not hiding the tragedy. We set out to make music that respected and honored what is at the heart of Ron Howard’s beautiful film and we hope audiences can hear – and perhaps even feel – that when watching.” (Hans Zimmer) “In the early meetings with Ron, there was a lot of discussion about the musical heritage of Appalachia, the instrumentation associated with the region and how best to use it to tell this family's story. Hans cut through the specifics and used the phrase ‘emotional epic,’ which became the North Star for the two of us as we composed the score. Yes, this is a story about three generations of the Vance family, but we always kept in mind that their journey is a universal journey.” (David Fleming)

Jim & Sam

Artist Video Jim & Sam @ FROG

Shane MacGowan

Crock of Gold - A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan deep dives into the life of the tortured Irish vocalist, best known as the lead singer and songwriter of the Pogues, who famously combined traditional Irish music with the visceral energy of punk rock. Featuring unseen archival footage from the band and MacGowan’s family, as well as animation from legendary illustrator Ralph Steadman, Julien Temple’s rollicking love letter spotlights the iconic frontman up to his 60th birthday celebration, where singers, movie stars and rock ’n’ roll outlaws gather to celebrate the man and his legacy.

Artist Video Shane MacGowan @ FROG


We have been in soundtrack land for the past few months. The cinemas closed and film festivals became the norm online. Firstly we had the great news that our score for the Irish language film Arracht won an IFTA award for Best Music Score! And then we heard that the film was nominated to represent Ireland in the Best Foreign Film section of the Oscars!!! Our third collaboration with Bruno Coulais and Cartoon Saloon, Wolfwalkers finally got a cinema release and is wowing audiences and critics across the world. And then most recently a feature doc by Ligid Productions called Martin McGuinness – I fought, I made peace, I made politics. It is full of amazing footage and interviews. We put loads of music together for it – keep an ear out for a lovely poly-rhythmical piece from Dee.

Artist Video Kíla @ FROG

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Loosely based on Homer's "Odyssey," the movie deals with the picaresque adventures of Ulysses Everett McGill and his companions Delmar and Pete in 1930s Mississipi. Sprung from a chain gang and trying to reach Everett's home to recover the buried loot of a bank heist they are confronted by a series of strange characters--among them sirens, a cyclops, bank robber George "Baby Face" Nelson (very annoyed by that nickname), a campaigning governor and his opponent, a KKK lynch mob, and a blind prophet who warns the trio that "the treasure you seek shall not be the treasure you find." (IMDB)

Artist of the Month: ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ (The Bluegrass Situation)
‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ Created an Instant Audience for Old-Time Music (The Bluegrass Situation)
Twenty Years After ‘O Brother,’ John Hartford Gets Grammy Attention Again (The Bluegrass Situation)

Yellow Rose (2019)

Rose, an undocumented 17 year old Filipina, dreams of one day leaving her small Texas town to pursue her country music dreams. Her world is shattered when her mom suddenly gets picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Rose, facing this new reality, is forced to flee the scene, leaving behind the only life she knows, and embarks on a journey of self-discovery as she searches for a new home in the honky tonk world of Austin, Texas.(IMDB)

'Yellow Rose': Film Review (Hollywood Reporter)
Reviews: Yellow Rose (Roger Ebert)
‘Yellow Rose’ Review: Heartfelt Country Music Drama Follows Undocumented Teen with Big Talents (Indie Wire)

Hillbilly Elegy (2020)

Based on the bestselling memoir by J.D. Vance, HILLBILLY ELEGY is a modern exploration of the American Dream and three generations of an Appalachian family as told by its youngest member, a Yale Law student forced to return to his hometown. (IMDB)

Reviews: Hillbilly Elegy (Roger Ebert)
‘Hillbilly Elegy’ Review: Ron Howard Adapts J.D. Vance’s Controversial Memoir into a Forgettable Netflix Biopic (Indie Wire)
Amy Adams Reacts to Negative ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ Reviews by Saying the Film ‘Transcends Politics’ (Indie Wire)

Songs from After So Many Days

After So Many Days (2019)

After a decade of making music together, Jim and Sam, a recently married singer/songwriter duo from Los Angeles, were not the conventionally successful band they hoped they'd be. Feeling stuck and anxious about their future, the duo made a spontaneous decision to go "all in," making a pact to play one show every day for a year. With suitcases and a guitar, the troubadours ventured out for a 365-day tour down unexplored roads, and onto unexpected stages, bringing their music to new audiences throughout 14 different countries. After So Many Days, is an intimate front row seat to the highs and lows of what it's like for two people to pursue a dream, together. (IMDB)

Documentary Review: A Stunt Tour might be their big break, “After So Many Days” (Movie Nation)
Review: After So Many Days (Live for Film)
AFTER SO MANY DAYS (Hammer to Nail)

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020)

Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians await trailblazing performer, the legendary "Mother of the Blues," Ma Rainey (Academy Award® winner Viola Davis). Late to the session, the fearless, fiery Ma engages in a battle of wills with her white manager and producer over control of her music. As the band waits in the studio's claustrophobic rehearsal room, ambitious trumpeter Levee (Chadwick Boseman) - who has an eye for Ma's girlfriend and is determined to stake his own claim on the music industry - spurs his fellow musicians into an eruption of stories revealing truths that will forever change the course of their lives. Adapted from two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson's play, MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM celebrates the transformative power of the blues and the artists who refuse to let society's prejudices dictate their worth.(IMDB)

Reviews: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (Roger Ebert)
Branford Marsalis Did a 1920s Deep Dive for 2020’s ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ (The Bluegrass Situation)
The Ma Rainey/Music Maker Connection (Music Maker Relief Foundation)

The United States vs. Billie Holiday (2021)

Follows Holiday during her career as she is targeted by the Federal Department of Narcotics with an undercover sting operation led by black Federal Agent Jimmy Fletcher, with whom she had a tumultuous affair. (IMDB)

Reviews: The United States vs. Billie Holiday (Roger Ebert)
The United States vs Billie Holiday review – Andra Day's film all the way (The Guardian)
The United States vs. Billie Holiday Is an Ahistorical Mess (Paste Magazine)

Crock of Gold - A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan (2020)

A look at the life of Irish singer/songwriter and Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan. (IMDB)

‘Crock of Gold’ Review: The Eternal Lost Weekend of Shane MacGowan (Rolling Stone)
Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan review – a sombre salute (The Guardian)
Crock of Gold review – Shane MacGowan's colourful, chaotic life (The Guardian)
Watch: The Pogues Bang Out "Waxie's Dargle" in This Exclusive Crock of Gold - a Few Rounds with Shane Macgowan Clip (Paste Magazine)

Arracht (2019)

Ireland, 1845 on the eve of The Great Hunger. Colmán Sharkey, a fisherman, a father, a husband, takes in a stranger at the behest of a local priest. Patsy, a former soldier in the Napoleonic wars arrives just ahead of 'the blight,' a disease that eventually wipes out the country's potato crop, contributing to the death and displacement of millions. As the crops rot in the fields, Colmán, his brother and Patsy travel to the English Landlord's house to request a stay on rent increases that Colmán predicts will destroy his community. His request falls deaf ears and Patsy's subsequent actions set Colmán on a path that will take him to the edge of survival, and sanity. It is only upon encountering an abandoned young girl that Colmán's resolve is lifted. Just in time for the darkness of his past to pay another visit. (IMDB)

Review of Irish Film: Arracht (Film Ireland)
#Review: Arracht (Scannain)
‘Arracht’: Tallinn Review (Screen Daily)
Irish film Arracht eschews Brit bashing to tackle famine taboo (The Guardian)

Wolfwalkers (2020)

In a time of superstition and magic, when wolves are seen as demonic and nature an evil to be tamed, a young apprentice hunter, ROBYN, comes to Ireland with her father to wipe out the last pack. But when Robyn saves a wild native girl, MEBH, their friendship leads her to discover the world of the WOLFWALKERS. (IMDB)

Reviews: Wolfwalkers (Roger Ebert)
Wolfwalkers review – an exquisite Irish animation masterpiece (The Guardian)
'Wolfwalkers' Is A Rich, Densely Packed Visual Feast (NPR)

Photo Credits: (1) Eva Noblezada & Dale Watson, (2ff) Film / Soundtrack Covers, (11) John Hartford, (12) Jim & Sam, (13) Shane MacGowan, (14) Kíla (unknown/website).

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