The Wheeler Opera House recently announced its “Rock Docs” series for the winter season, with a slate of exciting films about rock’n’roll.
The four-part documentary film series, produced in partnership with Mountainfilm In Telluride and Aspen Film, will take place between Jan. 30 and Feb. 13.
“We have seen a lot of documentaries taking a creative look into the contemporary music of our time,” says Wheeler executive director Gram Slaton. “These are stories that really are part of our global cultural fabric, so we’re experimenting with a limited series in 2013 to see if we can match the success of our Monday Docs series.”
Starting the series on Wednesday, Jan. 30, is “Beware of Mr. Baker,” a movie that opens with its subject jabbing his cane in the director’s eye. Thus, any preconceived notions you may have about the legendary Ginger Baker — founder of rock’s first supergroup, Cream — may need to be put on hold. Long considered the one true genius of rock/jazz drumming, Baker’s life has been one long wild ride of substance abuse, pioneering discovery, irresponsible behavior — in short: sex, drugs, and rock and roll — but probably not how one could possibly imagine it.
Chain smoking and ingesting copious amounts of morphine while sitting in his leather recliner (broke and exiled in South Africa), the 73-year-old reflects candidly back on his life as we trip through his current law suits, feuds, and final chapters in his path of personal destruction. The film features interviews with Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Charlie Watts, Mickey Hart, and a half dozen more rock icons.
Second up, on Wednesday, Feb. 6, is “Big Easy Express.” It documents a cinematic musical journey of three bands, in six cities, on one train, and 1,000 miles of track. The film captures nothing less than history in the making. Indie heroes Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Mumford & Sons climbed aboard a vintage train in California, setting out for New Orleans on a “tour of dreams.”
The resulting film from this journey is nothing short of magical. Part road movie and part concert film, Big Easy Express bears witness to the birth of a new musical era. With poignancy and beauty, director Malloy documents these incredible musicians as they ride the rails and wow the crowds, from Oakland to the Crescent City. The film is filled with joyous crowds, late night laughter, and endless music.
On Wednesday, Feb. 13 is “The Zen of Bennett.” Tony Bennett has recorded with everyone from Natalie Cole, Michael Bublé, and Norah Jones to John Mayer, Amy Winehouse and Lady Gaga, and that’s just lately. Mostly he’s won every award there is to win and practiced an art of enduring cool that Mick Jagger wishes he could perfect.
“The Zen Of Bennett” is a seductive and soulful view into the mind of the singer as well as an intimate portrait of the artist’s creative process as he turns 85 years old. In a first person narrative, Tony reflects back over his 60 year career while looking ahead within the context of his latest recording project. We experience inspirational insights as Tony discusses his philosophies of life, lessons learned, and his passion for art and music.
Concluding the series on Wednesday, Feb. 27 is “Under African Skies.” Twenty-five years ago, Paul Simon released his landmark work “Graceland” to equal parts acclaim and controversy. The album burst musical boundaries and brought together diverse cultures, but it split public opinion as Simon was accused of breaking the United Nations’ cultural boycott of South Africa, then a linchpin in the strategy to fight the nation’s intolerable system of apartheid.
“Two brilliant films in one, ‘Under African Skies’ triumphantly closed out our 2012 MountainSummit Festival, and brilliantly demonstrates how an accident of creative friendships can become the wedge that finally splits long-standing injustice,” says Slaton. “Our August audience exited the theater singing, dancing, and on an unstoppable high — and we expect no less will happen for this screening.”
Tickets are $10 for all screenings and are on sale now through the Wheeler’s Aspen Show Tickets box office (920-5770 locally, 866-449-0464 out of area, or online at www.aspenshowtix.com ). All screenings take place at 7:30 p.m. and are general admission. Details on all films can be found at www.wheeleroperahouse.com