Grateful Dead "Don't Ease Me In" from Festival Express, Toronto, June 1970Last week kicked off the highly recommended free Amoeba's Monday Movies series in Hollywood, CA at Space15twenty with a screening of the Hurricane Katrina themed film Trouble the Water -- a wonderfully produced documentary, albeit with an unsettling subject matter. In contrast, tonight's screening of the fun, must-see music documentary Festival Express, which captures a magical slice of time and rock history from almost forty years ago, is much lighter in its content.
The film was shot in the summer of 1970 over a period of five days on a cool custom made train with some very talented passengers on board, including Janis Joplin, The Band, the Grateful Dead, Flying Burrito Brothers, Buddy Guy, and Sha Na Na. The train trekked its way across Canada from Toronto, to Calgary and to Winnipeg, with its crew stopping to perform concerts along the route.
What makes this film so unique and so endearing is just how candid everyone comes across in their intimate portrayals. I love this film and was so moved when I first saw it six months ago, especially by Janis Joplin's role. Her great performances tragically would be some of her very last, since she died within a few months of this trans Canadian tour. I wrote an Amoeblog about Festival Express and Joplin back when I first watched the film.