“Echo in the Canyon is a true music buff’s utopia.”
If you’re a music buff, this new documentary called Echo in the Canyon is a must-see. Music industry maestro Andrew Slater and musician Jakob Dylan (Bob’s son and member of the Wallflowers) have given us the gift of rock n’ roll on film that focuses specifically on the mid-1960’s music revolution that catapulted acts life The Byrds, The Mamas & the Papas, Buffalo Springfield, and later years of The Beatles and The Beach Boys to success and fame.
The one big constant here is that all of these musicians amongst many others all moved and lived in the same neighborhood of Laurel Canyon near Los Angeles during this time period. With candid interviews and revealing stories from their past, Jakob Dylan chronicles the start and good times of this musical haven that delivers discussions with some of music’s most influential artists, including the last ever interview with Tom Petty.
The project came about when Jakob Dylan started to work on an album called Echo in the Canyon, where he and a group of modern day singer/songwriters covered a bunch of original folk rock songs from the 1960s. Once he dove head first into this project, he and Slater knew they could head deeper into the stories and collaborative abyss by talking to their colleagues and mentors who lived during this time. Now we have this amazing documentary that’s full of incredible inside stories that confirm and or debunk the decade long rumors we have all talked about with friends while listening to those late night records.
Folk music was poetry in motion in the early 1960s by the likes of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, but when bands like The Beatles and The Byrds started covering these slow melodic tunes and transformed them in to the rock songs we know them as today, it ignited a fire within the music community. Musicians from all over the world heard about this place called Laurel Canyon and decided to live and make music here, because the atmosphere was conducive to creativity and freedom. Stories are told by Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash on how people like Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson, and even Frank Zappa would get together and collaborate at each other’s houses on new music or just to listen to new records, since they all lived in the same neighborhood.
Main focuses tend to stay on the rise and success of The Beach Boys, The Byrds, The Mamas and the Papas, and Buffalo Springfield, where surviving members of each band discuss what it was like in those few years of making music, as well as the turbulent times that broke the bands up. They are fantastic stories and you can tell that these veteran musicians are still passionate about the music and do believe that it can change the world.
Transitions between bands and interviews are made by a 2015 concert where Jakob Dylan, Regina Spektor, Beck, and Cat Power performed these songs as tribute to these important bands. While some of these sequences go on longer than they should, we do get a small glimpse at some of the original musicians hearing the newly recorded songs they once performed. Those little moments are sweet to watch. Seeing Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Jackson Browne, and John Sebastian to name a few, talk about their lives from this period is nothing short of amazing. Echo in the Canyon is a true music buff’s utopia.
Written by: Bryan Kluger