Bewdley Festival has announced a special prelude to the 32nd edition entitled ‘American Epic Weekend’, a unique series of events planned between 4–5 October 2019. The one-off not-to-be missed weekend celebrates the landmark music documentary series American Epic from British filmmakers Bernard MacMahon and Allison McGourty and narrated by Robert Redford.
The weekend will include a screening of the award-winning trilogy of documentary films about the first recordings of rural music in the USA and their cultural, social and technological impact on the world. Described by the Hollywood Reporter as ‘a feast of musical and educational riches,’ and the Observer declaring it ‘one of the most interesting music programmes ever broadcast and a gorgeous history lesson’. Filmmaker Allison McGourty will be in attendance, leading a linked educational programme with local schools and taking part in a discussion about the trilogy.
On Saturday 5 October in the true spirit of American Epic, Bewdley will become Main Street USA, ringing to the sounds of the Bewdley Marching Band as it leads a parade of American Classic cars. There will be a feature children’s film at 10.30am in St George’s Hall, street performers, the American Soup Trail, ukelele bands, Bewdley Concert Band, local musicians performing American music while American-themed food is being served by the local pubs and cafes. Organisers hope local shops will join in the theme and be decorated with festival and American bunting.
The curated weekend, taking place in St George’s Hall, will present audiences with an exclusive once in a lifetime line-up of events, including Q&A sessions with the film’s producer Allison McGourty, hosted by a celebrity guest interviewer; lectures on sound recording from world-renowned music producers, including three-times Grammy winner Andrew Scheps, and an exhibition of rare photographs of the ground-breaking musicians and equipment. Leading Nashville-based singer/songwriter Rod Picott will close the celebrations when he plays live at the popular ‘Music in the Hall’ session on Saturday 5 October.
The films take us back to the 1920s, when record companies, in search of new styles and markets, sought out regional musicians from the streets of Memphis to the Western prairies and the islands of Hawaii. Using recent interviews, early recordings and a wide range of period film, photographs and documents, many of them previously unknown or unpublished, American Epic explores the varied sources and extensive impact of this explosion of American popular culture.
The first film – The American Epic Sessions – is being screened on Friday 4 October and documents 20 contemporary artists, including performances and interviews from Nas, Beck and Elton John, who pay tribute to their early music influences using the last surviving electrical recording equipment from 1925, meticulously rebuilt for the film.
Early bird tickets are available for the entire curated American Epic Weekend at £25.00 per person. There are a strictly limited number of tickets available to meet capacity at St George’s Hall.
Full details and ticket arrangements are available online at www.bewdleyfestival.org.uk