Jon Dee Graham: Swept Away [DVD] [2008]

Jon Dee Graham is a musical hero in his hometown of Austin, Texas, but he barely has a cult following in the rest of the country, and Mark Finkelpearl's documentary on Graham is a fan's portrait of a singular artist who struggles to develop a larger audience while staying true to his own vision and maintain a close relationship with his wife and two sons (one of whom has health issues) while living the nomadic life of a professional musician. Jon Dee Graham: Swept Away has been transferred to disc in letterboxed format, with the image presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio but not enhanced for anamorphic play. The documentary was shot on digital video gear, and the quality of the transfer is very good, capturing the details and color balance with realistic clarity. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Stereo, and the fidelity is excellent, especially in the copious performance footage of Graham and his band on stage. The interviews and performances are in English, with no subtitles or multiple language options included. As a bonus, this edition includes a commentary track featuring Graham, Finkelpearl and bassist Andrew Duplantis and others, with Graham dominating the chat with his intelligent and self-depreciating wit. Other bonus materials include two bonus acoustic performances and a short video profile of Graham that features some of the material used in the main feature. Jon Dee Graham: Swept Away is an engaging and often moving portrait of a musician who richly deserves a wider audience, and it's well worth seeing for fans or people with an interest in the Texas singer-songwriter community.
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Jon Dee Graham: Swept Away
Guitarist Jon Dee Graham got his start as a member of the first-generation Austin, Texas punk rock band the Skunks, but he became a major figure on the Austin music scene as a member of the True Believers, a trailblazing roots rock group that also featured Alejandro Escovedo, and since their breakup Graham has worked with John Doe, John Hiatt, Michelle Shocked, Kelly Willis and the Gourds as well as cutting a handful of critically acclaimed solo albums. Graham is a local legend in Austin who can fill clubs week in and out, but he still hasn't found a sizable nationwide audience for his music, and as he works to keep up with the demands of the musician's life, he also tries to live up to him obligations as a family man, spending as much time as he can with his two sons, one of which is dealing with ongoing health problems. Filmmaker Mark Finkelpearl is a major fan of Jon Dee Graham's work, and with Graham's cooperation he made Jon Dee Graham: Swept Away, a documentary which explores Graham's life and art, including a number of live and studio performances by Graham and his band, appreciations from critics and fellow musicians, and interviews with Graham in which he talks about his creative process, his family, his philosophy and his personal definition of success. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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