Once We Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson & The Band. After making the rounds on the festival circuit, the eagerly awaited documentary on The Band makes its way into theaters this weekend. Directed by Daniel Rohar (and executive produced by Martin Scorsese), it tells The Band’s story through Robertson’s eyes – from his early years with his family on the Six Nations Reserve; traveling to the Deep South to work with Ronnie Hawkins; to meeting the group of musicians that would later become The Band. There’s also great stories about backing up Bob Dylan during his first electric tours, and how their subsequent relocation to Woodstock would change their lives forever. Robertson also tells how the trappings of fame ultimately led to drug and alcohol abuse, which nearly destroyed the musical dynamic. Then there’s, of course, how The Last Waltz – considered to be the greatest concert film of all-time – came together, providing a fitting farewell to one of rock’s most respected and revered groups. Despite having a lack of live footage of The Band at their peak, Rohar does an extraordinary job of telling The Band’s story, piecing together interview footage, the timeless Elliot Landy photographs, and, Robertson’s rich storytelling. With appearances by former road manager Jonathan Taplin, early producer John Simon, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Taj Mahal, Ronnie Hawkins and Robertson’s former wife Dominique, Rohar has put together a warm salute to one of rock’s most influential groups. Once We Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band opens in New York and Los Angeles this weekend and in select theaters February 28th.
Who Killed Malcom X? This new six part Netflix docu-series looks back at the events leading up to, and after, Malcolm X’s death at the Audubon Ballroom. Director and activist Abdur-Rahman Muhammad dives deep into the case, uncovering the details that fuel long standing speculation that the FBI may have played a much larger role into Malcolm’s murder. Every angle is covered, from Malcolm’s rise within the Nation of Islam; his dramatic split with the organization and how the fallout from that break put into motion the events that led to his assassination. Two of the three men convicted of Malcolm X’s murder always maintained their innocence, and Muhammad uncovers evidence to suggest that their pleas are more than justified. His dogged pursuit of the truth is what makes this series so fascinating. His relentlessness has paid off: After the overwhelming response to this series, The Manhattan D.A.’s office has been re-opened by the case. Part documentary and part detective case, Muhammad’s series gives new insight and inquiry about the life and death of a civil right iconoclast. Who Killed Malcolm X is available now on Netflix.
Aloha by Son Little. For this 3rd album, singer-songwriter Son Little made a number of creative changes. The Philly born multi-instrumentalist put the songs in the hands of an outside producer (French studio wiz Renaud Letang), and rather than let the recording process play itself out over time, Little and Letang were able to knock out the entire album in just 8 days. Playing nearly every instrument, Little blends elements of old school R&B, classic soul, a touch of Afrobeat, and D.I.Y indie rock to a remarkable effect. It’s hard to be familiar and fresh at the same time, but Son Little has found a way to shape a sound that is truly his own. It’s another gem for one of music’s most unique and singular voices. Aloha by Son Little is available now through Amazon, Apple Music and all major streaming services.
New York City: Bill Graham And The Rock n Roll Revolution. It’s hard to imagine what rock n roll would be like without Bill Graham. Presenting shows at the FIllmore East, Fillmore West, and later, The Winterland Ballroom, Graham treating the medium, it’s audience and everything in its orbit, like the high art that is was, making San Francisco and downtown New York City, the epicenters of a cultural revolution. Now The New York Historical Society has teamed up with Graham’s estate to present the most comprehensive look back at the late promoter/manager’s life to date. It features more than 300 photos, classic concert posters and other memorabilia that traces show how a young German Jewish kid, escaped Nazi Germany, found a home in New York City, made his way to San Francisco at the start of a seismic artistic shift and became of its major movers and shakers. The exhibit also includes a site specific installation of ‘The Joshua Light Show’ that was a Fillmore trademark, and plenty of music from the period. It’s a mind blowing salute to rock’s greatest on stage producers. Bill Graham and The Rock n Roll Revolution will be at the New York Historical Society through August 23rd. You can also go to www.nyhistory.org for more information.
Los Angeles: CicLAvia. If you ever imagined getting around Los Angeles free of traffic, this Sunday, CicLAvia – Spanish for ‘bike way’, will give you the opportunity. Bikes, tricycles, skateboards, and strollers will take over the streets downtown L.A. with shop owners and restaurants along the route will be open. There will be music, street performances and a lot more. It’s a great way to explore the City Of Angels in NEW wAY. CicLAvia will take place this Sunday. You can also go to www.ciclavia.org for more information.