SIX STRINGS MELTDOWN
Six Strings. Six Guitars. One Stage. One Night.
“THE WORLD’S GREATEST SUPPORTING GUITAR GODS”
“SIX STRINGS MELTDOWN” is an evocatively caught, transcendent concert film that tenders within its spellbinding guitar pyrotechnics a seemingly incompatible message of the virtues of virtuosity and altruism. Richard Thompson, folk-rock architect, cult artist multi-threat as stellar guitarist and sinister songwriter nonpareil, gets his dream come true as Southbank’s 2010 Meltdown curator to handpick his guitar heroes and host his fellow string slingers for a virtuoso summit: RT with James Burton (who defined country-rock picking with Ricky Nelson, Elvis, Gram and Emmylou), Nokie Edwards (Surfbeat pioneer with The Ventures, the most popular rock instrumental band in history), Dennis Coffey (the Funk Brothers member who psychedelicized Motown), Martin Simpson (song raconteur acknowledged as one of the finest acoustic and slide players) and John Etheridge (prodigious jazz-rock improviser: Stephane Grappelli and Soft Machine, who’s eclectic approach defies boundary). These “Greatest Supporting Guitar Gods” are given the limelight to display their signature skills and join forces with joyous interplay – trading licks, riffs and anecdotes whilst transcending ego.
WHAT IS MELTDOWN?
A tradition since 1993, “Meltdown” annually bestows upon a select few of the world’s most daring musicians the opportunity to handpick their fantasy festival by inviting their favorite artists to perform and exhibit their work at Southbank Centre, a complex of artistic venues in London. Previous Meltdown custodians include David Bowie, Patti Smith, Ray Davies, Morrissey, Scott Walker, Lee Scratch Perry, Elvis Costello, Laurie Anderson, Robert Wyatt, Nick Cave, Jarvis Cocker, John Peel, Massive Attack, Ornette Coleman and for 2013 – Yoko Ono. Richard Thompson was asked to curate Meltdown 2010. In compiling his line up of events and while in advisement with Sam Epstein, the “Six Strings” concert and concept was born.
SAM EPSTEIN, REALIZATION (Concept, Producer, Director, Editor, Camera, Designer, Interviewer, Writer and Grunt)
Sam Epstein has traversed the radio, concert, print, film, video and digital medium. He has worked within multi-million dollar budgets to no budget, guerilla independent film. Highlights include working with Robert Altman and John Schlesinger, the Emmy-winning Hill Street Blues, LA Law and Tracy Takes On television series, Grammy-winning Michael Jackson videos and his self-shot performance captures (Final Vinyl) including his 1989 Kurt Cobain-endorsed archival document of a nascent Nirvana: No Autographs, No Encores seen on MTV and VH1. His long stint at Rhino Records introduced and induced a jaded city to embrace many world, folk, roots and off-the-radar artists once previously unknown or deemed fringe. Much of his “Indy” alternative methodology and outside-the-box thinking then has become modus operandi today. He has maintained his adventurous ear and combines it with his visual sense while retaining a gift to reach connoisseurs and move ordinary folk alike. It is a knack that is alive and recognizable in his two infectious music videos and concert film, Cheri Samba that he has produced, directed and edited for African Rumba and Soukous star, Samba Mapangala, which have been unanimously delighting audiences globally.
He fuses his idealism with a D.I.Y. how-to initiative. For two years he was charged to “resurrect” Rhino Records as its imaginist and administrator of its 3-week, Pop Up store events reinstating the Rhino store’s spirit and space out of thin air and practically overnight with all proceeds bound for Chrysalis and MusiCares Non-Profits, who transition the homeless to jobs and benefit musicians in need respectively. These events had surprising consequences exceeding its philanthropic goals to raise enduring consciousness of the charities’ missions and reawaken LA’s community connection. Sam produced its film document, Rhino Resurrected which toured the film fest circuit utilizing the Pop Ups as story spine to examine the infamous store that begot the Rhino label and which left an indelible rebellious imprint.
That same contagious passion was evident as visionary and booker of the legendary sixties club, the Ashgrove, re-launched on the Santa Monica Pier. Under Sam’s guidance the club merged diverse musical genres daily, its audience ranged from 5 to 95 and was voted LA’s best musical venue by the city’s press. That experience informs another of his projects: Persistence and Grace – Janiva Magness (4-time Handy Award Winner) Live At McCabes DVD which has evolved into a pilot for an LA-based, musical artist-audience associative series that he calls: Happy Accidents; the title being a mantra for its approach. Already in the can are a cornucopia of subjects: Lloyd Price, Spider John Koerner, Justin Townes Earle, Martin & Eliza Carthy, Dan Penn, Albert Lee, Midge Ure, Shelby Lynne, Aiofe O’Donovan, Mary Gauthier, Eliza Gilkyson, Gretchen Wilson, Terry Evans, Bob Neuwirth, The Gene Taylor Blues Band, Lonely Hearts String Band, Cass McCombs, Baseball Project and upcoming: Little Willie G. & his Eastside Philharmonic, Susan James, Jake Fussell, Meredith Axelrod and Evie Sands.
Sam produced the Rhino label’s 3-CD set, Troubadours of British Folk that revered UK music magazine, Mojo, singled out to feature in its Essential L1000 CD guide. It provided inspiration for Sam’s ambitiously expansive and evolving labor of love series: When Blue Men Sang The Whites, which examines unlikely inspiration, discovery of self-expression within and the unforeseen responsibility that accompanies the pursuit of one’s muse. The involving doc provides assessment and spreads enduring appreciation of the music via its 60 plus characters (from John Lee Hooker to Jack White to Vieux Farka Toure), its impact and its underlying consequence in a non-linear, narration-free form, merging the music’s sway with its historical, sociological, philosophical and spiritual themes seamlessly and persuasively. This project has grown from Sam’s vision, collaborative nature and his curiosity and resolve to follow its path. By pursuing its artist-driven process, form and function have coalesced into a sum greater than its parts.
Out of Richard Thompson’s invitation to help with his 2010 Southbank Meltdown, Sam was asked to document the Kate McGarrigle Celebration and conceived, directed, shot and edited the “Six Strings” event to which The Guardian awarded 5 out of 5 stars, featuring RT with James Burton (Elvis Presley-Ricky Nelson-Emmylou Harris), Nokie Edwards (Ventures), Dennis Coffey (Motown), Martin Simpson (Perennial BBC Folk Awardee), John Etheridge (Stephane Grappelli-Soft Machine) into this guitarists’ guitarists, dream concert movie. Further projects with RT include co-producing Thompson’s Cabaret of Souls at UCLA and filming its most recent version at The Broad Theatre.
Epstein continues his bent to fuse music and film infectiously with several projects. He brought about Jeremy Spencer’s (Original Fleetwood Mac) “Bend In The Road” vinyl release and video for Record Store Day, “Coventry Blue” CD and arranged a 40-date support tour, as well as filming Jeremy in an impromptu session in his living room. Sam scrambled to pull together a makeshift camera crew to capture the Big Star “Third” in LA. As architect at LA’s pop culture emporium, Duck Soup, Sam created Retrospecs, 21 year-specific “DVD Docu-Greeting Cards” that blend art and commerce. For six years he taught film production and directing from Film 101 to Thesis Project at LA Film School and The American Film Institute.
NANCY COVEY – PRODUCER
Nancy Covey began her music career in the mid-1970’s as Concert Director at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. She managed the McCabe’s concert series and produced larger endeavors for McCabe’s Production over 10 formative years; including booking Richard Thompson’s first solo appearances in the USA. She continues to produce concerts on her own as well as running her company, Festival Tours International, which she founded in 1982. Her customized tours from Cajun swamp to magical Cuba are like non-other, extraordinary experiences that specialize in the ground zero, traditional music and culture of the countries they visit (wwws.festtours.net). Nancy has been involved in Mr. Thompson’s Folk-Oratorio: “Cabaret of Souls” since its inception, co-producing its last three productions. The “Six String Meltdown” film was initially a birthday keepsake from Nancy to husband, Richard.