Documentary on Music Legend Gram Parsons Makes Capital Region Debut at The Sanctuary For Independent Media; Local Musicians To Present Music Tribute

On Tuesday, September 19, 2006 some of the Capital Region’s most talented musicians will pay tribute to country/rock music legend Gram Parsons as “Fallen Angel,” the documentary film about his life, premieres at The Sanctuary For Independent Media (3361 6th Avenue in Troy).  The event begins at 7 PM with a brief musical introduction, followed by the film screening and concluding with a full set of live performance.

For this event, songwriter/bandleader Michael Eck has cherry-picked the best of the region’s alt.country scene, including Jeff Sohn (bass), Sten Isachsen (lead guitar), Kevin Maul (pedal steel and dobro), Bob Girouard (drums) and guest artists Leigh Gibson (of the Gibson Brothers), Hayseed, Mother Judge, Sloughter Jug All-Stars, Peter Bearup, Steven “Cousin” Clyde (of Ramblin Jug Stompers) and Don “Diego” Ackerman — all performing their favorite Gram Parsons songs!

On September 19, 1973, musician and million-dollar heir Gram Parsons died under the influence of drugs and alcohol near his favorite place The Joshua Tree National Monument in the Californian desert. As the founder of the Flying Burrito Brothers, a member of the hit-making, legendary Byrds, an important influence on the Rolling Stones and the man who catapulted Emmylou Harris to fame, Gram Parsons made music history in only a few years. Using rare footage of his performances, director Gandulf Hennig shows why Gram Parsons has become a legend.  Interviewees include Keith Richards, Emmylou Harris, Chris Hillman and “Road Mangler” Phil Kaufman.

According to Stephen Thomas Erlewine of the All Music Guide, “Gram Parsons is the father of country-rock. With the International Submarine Band, the Byrds, and the Flying Burrito Brothers, Parsons pioneered the concept of a rock band playing country music, and as a solo artist he moved even further into country music, blending the two genres to the point that they became indistinguishable from each other. While he was alive, Parsons was a cult figure that never sold many records, but influenced countless fellow musicians, from the Rolling Stones to the Byrds. In the years since his death, his stature has only grown, as numerous rock and country artists build on his small, but enormously influential, body of work.”

Among the many enduring compositions by Gram Parsons are classics like “Hickory Wind,” “Sin City,” “We’ll Sweep Out The Ashes In The Morning,” “Streets Of Baltimore,” “A Song For You,” “Christine’s Tune (Devil In Disguise),” “Return Of The Grievous Angel” and “Do You Know How It Feels To Be Lonesome?”

“His songs stand the test of time,” said Emmylou Harris. “They have a universal, timeless quality to them.  And all of them were written before the age of 26, when he died.  So it’s pretty amazing to think of what he came up with. His songs run the gamut from being deeply romantic and touching, and sad, and playful and funny to apocalyptic.” In his San Francisco Chronicle review of the film, David Wiegand wrote, “It might seem easy to dismiss Parsons for flaming out too soon, except for his astounding musical legacy. It isn’t just that he was a member, however briefly, of the Byrds, or that he gave Harris’ career a start. It’s that he personally brought his abiding love for pure country music, as delivered by guys like Lefty Frizzell and George Jones, to the attention of Hillman, Richards and others, made them see that it was something to respect. Parsons is still known as the father of country-rock. Bands that came later, such as the Eagles, then Son Volt and others, carried the legacy.”

“Gorgeous archival footage of the pretty, young, Nudie-suit clad Gram performing with the Flying Burrito Brothers mixes with old home movies of Gram’s privileged upbringing,” said Jason Moon Wilkins in The Tennessean. “Parsons’ almost unbelievably dramatic life was cinematic in every respect, but, shockingly, until ‘Fallen Angel’ arrived, no one had ever successfully filmed Gram’s story.”

This event is made possible by volunteer labor and small financial contributions from hundreds of patrons of The Sanctuary For Independent Media.  Admission to this screening is by donation ($10 suggested, $5 student/low income).

The Sanctuary For Independent Media is a community media arts center located in an historic former church in Troy, NY. The Sanctuary hosts screening, production and performance facilities, training in media production and a meeting space for artists, activists and independent media makers of all kinds.  The Sanctuary is located at 3361 6th Avenue, three doors down from 101st Street in north Troy.

Call (518) 272-2390, or email info@TheSanctuaryForIndependentMedia.org, or visit www.TheSanctuaryForIndependentMedia.org for more information.