Sunday, August 22, 2004

film: Festival Express

Festival Express 3/5

This is a slightly long look at the 1970 train tour across Canada with the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Buddy Guy, The Band and a few others.

Stops in Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Calgary are documented with stadium shows that were met with much protest. Tickets were $14 for over 14 bands, but there was a groundswell of support to have free admittance to one and all. At the venues, protesters were met with mounted police. One cop apparently suffered a serious head injury in Toronto.

A friend of mine actually stood outside the stadium to listen in for free. He said the reason the tour lost money was due to the lack of advertising. There were only about 8,000 people at the Winnipeg show. The vibe among many people at the time was that the tour was a rip off and once people felt that way, they conformed to protest it.

The footage shows musicians jamming and partying on the train. Someone made the point that at large festivals, the bands usually don’t get to hang out, but on the train, it was musician heaven.

Some of the best performances are from the Band and Janis Joplin. Apart from being an electrifying performer, she openly discussed the pain in her life of not having found the right guy. Along with the 34 year-old footage, there’s a lot of current commentary from some of the players from the tour.

This film won’t win any awards but it was a fun look at a bit of rock’n’roll history.

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