Throughout the history of rock and roll, the echo has a mystical place. Bands have been searching for the perfect ambiance long before the invention of reverb boxes. Doo wop bands in the fifties would practice in the bathrooms, the tiles bouncing the sound. The new movie Echo in the Canyon, finds those reverberations. Echo in the Canyon was directed by former music journalist, record producer and label executive Andrew Slater, and executive produced by Jakob Dylan, Bob’s son and former frontman of the Wallflowers.
“The best test of songwriting is that it transcends its moment in time and there is no doubt that the songs we explore in this film are as powerful today as they were in 1965,” Jakob Dylan said in a statement.
Echo in the Canyon features the words Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, Michelle Phillips, The Beatles’ own beatkeeper Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, Roger McGuinn, Graham Nash, David Crosby, Jackson Browne, and Tom Petty, in his last film interview. The singer died of an accidental overdose at his home in Malibu on October 2, 2017. Petty joined his first band, the Sundowners, in the mid-1960s. He quit high school at 17 to alternate between bass and guitar for the southern-rock group Mudcrutch, which featured future Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench. He was discovered by the legendary Leon Russel and made his bones noodling around Shelter Studios with rock star session players.
Echo In The Canyon opens in Los Angeles on May 24 at Arclight’s Cinerama Dome and The Landmark followed by a New York opening at the Angelika and The Landmark at 57 West on May 31. Both openings will feature performances by musicians from the film all weekend with a national rollout and a soundtrack on BMG Music following in June.
Echo in the Canyon breaks down the birth to the California Sound, charting Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon music scene as folk went electric and launching groundbreaking careers of bands like The Byrds, The Mamas & The Papas and Buffalo Springfield in the mid-60s. It was a moment (1965 to 1967) when bands came to LA to emulate The Beatles and Laurel Canyon emerged as a hotbed of creativity and collaboration for a new generation of musicians who would soon put an indelible stamp on the history of American popular music.
Dylan uncovers never-before-heard personal details behind the bands and their songs and how that music continues to inspire today. The “echo” of this music later went on to influence the music of many artists including Beck, Fiona Apple, Cat Power, Regina Spektor and Norah Jones.
Echo in the Canyon premiered to glowing reviews as the Opening Night film at the LA Film Festival and DOC NYC.
You can watch the trailer here:
Echo In The Canyon will hit theaters on May 24 in Los Angeles and on May 31 in New York.
Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City’s Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFK. Read more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.