A fascinating new rock documentary debuted at the 2018 LA Film Festival last week. Echo in the Canyon examines the birth of the Laurel Canyon music scene and the iconic music and artists – such as The Byrds,The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield and The Mamas and the Papas – that developed there. Incidentally this was also the first time that a rock documentary opened the festival.
Largely focused on the years 1965-67 the doc is hosted by Jakob Dylan – lead singer of The Wallflowers and son of Bob Dylan – as he takes the viewer on a tour of LA, interviewing the artists who were at the forefront of that scene and visits many of the legendary locations where their music was created.
Through interviews with David Crosby, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Brian Wilson, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, Jackson Browne, Michelle Phillips and the late Tom Petty, the story is told of a creative and collaborative environment – a bohemian hangout where talented musicians lived within walking distance of each other and worked together to develop new sounds that would impact the course of popular music across the world.
“We found it was the exchange of inspiration between the people who were here and England that helped create the California sound and beginnings of Laurel Canyon,” director Andrew Slater explained in a recent interview. “That dialogue helped change music forever because it impacted what the Beatles were doing, and it impacted what the Beach Boys were doing, and back and forth. And that became the essential theme of the film, the echo of inspiration and creation.”
Echo in the Canyon also explores the continuing influence that the Laurel Canyon scene has had on music and includes clips from at star-studded 50th anniversary concert from 2015 that features performances Jakob Dylan, Norah Jones, Beck Fiona Apple and Cat Power as well as interviews with those same artists
Full of never-before-told stories, such as Tom Petty nostalgically describing a 1967 concert in his native Gainesville that featured Buffalo Springfield opening up for The Beach Boys, or Neil Young writing “Expecting to Fly” as a warning signal to his fellow Buffalo Springfield bandmates of his plan to quit the band, or Eric Clapton humorously recalling that Stephen Stills escaped a weed bust by sneaking out of a back window, Echo in the Canyon offers the audience an intimate look one of the most influential musical movements of the 20th century.
Check out this cover of “You Showed Me” by Jakob Dylan & Cat Power from the Echo in the Canyon 50th Anniversary concert featured in the documentary.