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Author Topic: Ken Burns Country Music series in the works  (Read 413 times)

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Offline TenBrook

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Ken Burns Country Music series in the works
« on: May 29, 2018, 06:07:17 AM »
Hi all,
This weekend I stumbled on the news that Ken Burns is working on a multi-episode series on the history of Country music.

There's more info here. Looks like it's set to be released sometime next year.
http://kenburns.com/films/country-music/

Offline Rivers

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Re: Ken Burns Country Music series in the works
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2018, 06:35:07 AM »
Quote from the link:

Quote
"All the while, we will note the constant tug of war between the desire to make country music as mainstream as possible and the periodic reflexes to bring it back to its roots"

Well alrighty then. That would be a topic well worth exploring. I'll go out on a limb here and suggest money may have something to do with mainstreaming, and music being the reflex driving a return to the roots.

Offline Stuart

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Re: Ken Burns Country Music series in the works
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2018, 01:04:26 PM »
Thanks for the heads up, Lew.

Online Johnm

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Re: Ken Burns Country Music series in the works
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2018, 06:51:26 AM »
If this series ends up anything like the one that Ken Burns did on Jazz, I'm not awaiting its release with bated breath.  If it is like the Jazz series, be prepared for shocking revelations like the news that Earl Scruggs was an innovator on the banjo, Hank Williams wrote songs that touched people and he died young and the Carter Family was first recorded in Bristol, Tennessee.

Offline Mike Billo

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Re: Ken Burns Country Music series in the works
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2018, 08:02:59 AM »
Well said, John. Bravo. My sentiments exactly

Offline CF

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Re: Ken Burns Country Music series in the works
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2018, 10:40:18 AM »
I wonder if there's the audience for this stuff like there was from the 1990s to 2000s. I think the American Epic folks were disappointed in the success of their doc and CD release ventures . . . Tefteller says his sales are shrinking every year . . . I'm not sure the young adult audience or "novice" audience is very large for period music anymore. JAZZ may have been a bore to folks who knew the difference but it was a kind of revelation for relative interested newbies like myself. I know I've seen many Country music docs since the 1990s and I've heard all those cliche' points John listed, over and over. But has a younger (even older) interested audience heard this stuff? Is there much of an interested audience? The American Epics had new and previously unseen footage to  impress the established fanbase, I wonder if Burns will have any revelations 
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline banjochris

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Re: Ken Burns Country Music series in the works
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2018, 10:55:15 AM »
I think the audience is still there for period music, but it's so easy for young folks to listen to Spotify (or Apple Music or Pandora or Amazon Music) or what have you they're mostly content to do that. My niece loves music from the '20s to the '40s but that's all she does, and doesn't ask me to loan her CDs or anything like that, although she knows I have a ton of stuff. Easier just to punch a few buttons and get it basically for free.

The thing that annoys me in "roots" music documentaries the most, and especially annoyed me in American Epic (although I enjoyed quite a bit of it as well), is the in-built notion that these earlier music forms are ONLY interesting because they led to modern music and rock, etc. I get tracing the historical development, but Son House didn't only exist to pave the way for The White Stripes.

Online Johnm

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Re: Ken Burns Country Music series in the works
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2018, 01:16:58 PM »
I agree that that reasoning is irksome, Chris--that the music of the past is significant only insofar as it led to the wonderful music of the present.  Another factor in the Ken Burns Jazz series that I found even more exasperating was his choice to turn many musicians who were/are wonderful players in their own right into talking heads, without ever acknowledging or featuring their own music and playing in the series.  I was spitting bullets when they interviewed the great pianist Jimmy Rowles at some length, because all they wanted to hear about was his accompanying Billie Holliday and Marilyn Monroe.  It evidently never occurred to them that it might enrich context to let Jimmy Rowles actually play some piano!  When was he going to get another chance to appear on national TV?  I read at the time that the Jazz series came out that Ken Burns acknowledged that he knew nothing about Jazz.  It seems like that might disqualify a person from doing a multi-part documentary on the subject.  Jazz is great subject for a multi-part documentary, as is Country Music--but not made by someone who knows nothing about the music.  Someone who knows about the music is more likely to do something other than drive down the center of the informational highway.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 19, 2018, 06:32:33 AM by Johnm »

Offline Stuart

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Re: Ken Burns Country Music series in the works
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2018, 03:29:26 PM »
Yeah, the  people who are experts at getting the funding aren't necessarily experts in the subject area--and vice versa.

I agree with Chris that when a lot of music is only a click away, actually putting in the time to seek out and learn about something other than what is being served up is a less convenient and desirable option. And there's also saturation to contend with.

And then there's neophilia. But if one hasn't heard a song before regardless of when it was recorded, then it's new, right?--or is it?

The music was and is great and shouldn't be viewed as a historical curiosity or precursor. It should be understood and appreciated in its own right. IMHO.

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