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Beyond the Supernova
For a whole generation, Surfing with the Alien remains the essential rock instrumental album of the 1980s, defined by the piercing sonic soundscapes of guitarist Joe Satriani’s technical virtuosity. Now, on that record’s 30th anniversary, ZZ Satriani chronicles his father’s 2017 concert tour through Japan and China with this loving tribute to a musician still at the top of his game. Fronting a hard-driving ensemble, Satriani proves he’s the master of sweeping solos, pulsing rhythms, and intricate fingerwork. But we also see him in his more meditative moments-discussing his influences, his love of collaboration (Steve Vai makes an appearance), and the struggle between the private person and the master showman. His craft is serious, but his rehearsals are playful and we’re given intimate access to a legend free of pretense and self-seriousness. With stylish flourishes and boundless affection, ZZ, in his directorial debut, celebrates a musical icon who has never tired of
Sat, Oct 14 4:00 PM
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Bill Frisell, A Portrait
Guitarist, composer, and arranger Bill Frisell is widely acknowledged as a musician’s musician. His style ranges from jazz to folk and Americana and beyond, and there’s seemingly no end to his list of musical co-conspirators. As he’s not one to draw attention to himself, Emma Frantz’s portrait of the unassuming master is a welcome opportunity to peek into an eclectic musical mind of genius caliber. Frisell conveys a childlike sense of wonder at his luck in forging a lifelong career in music, and it’s clear through their interviews that his collaborators are also fans. But it’s not all talk in this joyful film, there’s plenty of music. Frantz, herself a singer and composer, brings an artist’s insight to a documentary that’s as much about the music-making as it is about the man himself. Whether jamming with a trio in the studio, or recording with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Frisell always has that same gleeful smile and incomparable sound.
Sun, Oct 8 8:45 PM
Mon, Oct 9 3:15 PM
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The Hi De Ho Show
Summer, 1967. John Goddard, our resident maestro of the mellifluous and curator of the curious, turns to that iconic summer for his annual extravaganza, veejaying from his personal collection, fuelled by his peerless anecdotes. From May 1 to August 31 , 1967 he saw 36 concerts, and he’s basing his playlist on the artists he saw then (chronologically, of course.) He saw Big Brother and the Holding Company 14 times; Quicksilver Messenger Service 16 times (full disclosure: he grew up with John Cipolina). He saw Jesse Fuller and Rahsaan Roland Kirk for the first and only time. He saw Cream at the Fillmore on their first US tour; Howlin’ Wolf at the Avalon. Odetta, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry. He compared notes on his cheap Brownie camera with a guy who had the identical model and had just played on the back of a truck in the Panhandle: Jimi Hendrix. What became known as the Summer of Love was for Goddard a four-month long, non-stop music fest. So…turn up, tune in, drop in, drop out-just don’t
Fri, Oct 6 9:30 PM
Sat, Oct 14 9:00 PM
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Horn from the Heart:The Paul Butterfield Story
Answering the question, "What happens when a white teenager from Chicago’s Hyde Park befriends Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Little Walter?" this electrifying documentary explores the fascinating and complicated life of Paul Butterfield, who some call the greatest blues harmonica player who ever lived. Most music fans have heard of Butterfield, but few understand his impact on modern blues and rock and roll. This electrifying documentary sets the record straight as it captures Butterfield from his early days as a wide-eyed kid jamming with his heroes to blowing his harp at the Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock. The film combines astounding concert footage, scintillating rock-and-roll stories, and unexpected insights about the cultural barriers of popular music in the 1960s and ‘70s. Voice recordings of Butterfield along with interviews with family members and fellow musicians, including Elvin Bishop, Bonnie Raitt, BB King, and Maria Muldaur, paint a picture of a supremely talented,
Tue, Oct 10 6:00 PM
Thu, Oct 12 3:00 PM
Sat, Oct 14 9:15 PM
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Mad Hannans
A sensation in the local music scene, the Mad Hannans have entertained crowds with their distinctive brand of Irish folk rock for over a decade. Now, director Martin Shore brings a highly personal portrait of the band founded by brothers Jerry and Sean Hannan, as their modest origins escalate into a cult following at bars and festivals all over Marin County. From Larkspur to Nicasio and Mill Valley, our own backyard serves as an affectionate backdrop to a creative collaboration that was often contentious but always filled with familial love and support, especially when events take a tragic turn. Filled with home movies, never-before-seen studio sessions, and a collection of fans ranging from Talking Heads’ Jerry Harrison to filmmaker Sean Penn, The Mad Hannans reminds us that the ties that bind are also often the bonds that allow for the most liberating form of self-expression.
Fri, Oct 6 6:15 PM
Mon, Oct 9 3:15 PM
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On The Sly: In Search of the Family Stone
Part amateur sleuthing adventure, part chronicle of a legendary artist, On the Sly documents one man’s years-long quest to discover what happened to his musical hero, Sly Stone. Last seen at his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 1993, rumors about the reclusive musician abound and become a breadcrumb trail for superfan and first-time filmmaker Michael Rubenstone. Rubenstone both directs this entertaining documentary and serves as the audience’s on-camera guide through the increasingly strange episodes of his journey. The search for Sly Stone himself is balanced by interludes recounting Stone’s progression from music theory student to charismatic performer to cultural icon. Music historians, Stone’s biographer, and original bandmates detail the history of the group and the cultural context of the times. Through it all, Sly and the Family Stone’s music, Rubenstone’s enthusiasm, and the excitement of the chase all shine through, proving, “You can make it if you try!”
Fri, Oct 13 6:00 PM
Sat, Oct 14 9:00 PM
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Song of Granite
The rare narrative film in the MVFF Music program, Song of Granite is a lyrical journey through the life of celebrated traditional Irish folk singer Joe Heaney. Loosely divided into three eras, the film opens as an observational tale of Heaney's boyhood in Connemarra on the west coast of Ireland. Time has yet to catch up to this place, where the novelty of recording voices onto wax discs is an event worthy of a neighborhood gathering. Each black-and-white frame is an exquisite composition, and director Pat Collins weaves in haunting snippets of archival performance film as Heaney grows up, leaving his homeland and his family to make a new life in mid-century New York. This unusual biopic focuses on songs as much as character, inviting the audience to draw up a chair by the fire, or a stool at the pub, and experience heart-stirring a cappella performances.
Sat, Oct 7 3:45 PM
Tue, Oct 10 6:00 PM
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Third Mind Blues
Chicago-born Ray Manzarek of The Doors was one of the most legendary keyboard players in rock and roll history. Roy Rogers grew up in Vallejo, distinguishing himself as one of the premiere slide guitarists anywhere. The unlikely intersection of their careers resulted in years of fruitful collaboration memorialized in William Tyler Smith’s intimate, irresistible music documentary, Third Mind Blues. Watching the pair improvise songs, rehearse for a concert tour, and lay down album tracks is a master class in the special alchemy of opposites attracting, with influences ranging from the classical canon and Delta blues heritage to the SF Beat poets who provided many of their lyrics. Throughout, we see them mingle the playful with the philosophical, embracing their musical pasts while forging new creative roads together. This passion and partnership are on lovely display here and for Manzarek, who died in 2013, it’s a fitting tribute to a life devoted to music.
Thu, Oct 12 5:30 PM
Fri, Oct 13 9:00 PM
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Woodstock
Come celebrate MVFF’s 40th anniversary with this special screening of Woodstock, which screened at MVFF’s 1978 inaugural festival in tribute to cinematographer David Myers. Innocent, hopeful, and groovy, the musical happening at Yasgur’s farm instantly obliterated everyone’s expectations, and this documentary became a cultural and cinematic touchstone. No one had ever witnessed anything like this three-day gathering, which was genuinely peaceful despite times no less polarized than our own. Jerry Garcia marveled at the “biblical, epical, unbelievable scene,” and Woodstock captures every intimate detail: the acid and the skinny dipping, the babies and freaks, dumbstruck locals and awestruck promoters, Grace Slick’s electric blue eyes and Richie Havens’ fast-tapping foot, plus every bead of sweat flying from Joe Cocker’s head. Hendrix, Joplin, Santana, the Who, CSNY: No concert film boasts a better soundtrack, or better stage announcements. Be there.
Sat, Oct 7 6:00 PM
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