Oct. 04--I see a ton of music documentaries each year at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.
Some of them stick with me long after I've left the Lone Star State. Others are basically forgotten the moment the credits starts to roll.
The best documentary film that I saw at the 2013 SXSW -- and, overall, my second favorite of all the flicks I watched at the festival -- was the expertly crafted "Muscle Shoals."
Now, locals have the chance to check out this fine film about the artists and studio wizards that put -- and keep -- Muscle Shoals, Alabama, on the musical map. It opens Oct. 11 at Landmark's Opera Plaza Cinemas in San Francisco and Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley. (It's also available On-Demand and through iTunes.)
Director Greg "Freddy" Camalier's film does an excellent job in both educating and entertaining. Of course, it helps that the subject matter is absolutely fascinating.
The film traces the entire length of Muscle Shoal's mighty musical legacy, which really begins in the late '50s with Rick Hall's FAME Studios. Over the years, that studio gave birth to immortal recordings by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and Clarence Carter.
The other key venue in the film is the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, which first made a mark in the late '60 by recording the Rolling Stones and other legends. That studio is still a major player today, drawing such modern acts as the Black Keys to record in Alabama.
"Muscle Shoals" is filled with great stories, characters and songs -- and, really, what else could you want from a music documentary?
Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic, www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.
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