It’s the end of an exhausting week and we’re all feeling a little worn thin. Valentine's Day is on Sunday (and there isn’t a single goddamn brand or business in the world that isn’t reminding you constantly) and the weatherman is predicting freezing temperatures with windchills in the -10s and -20s for NYC. Might be a good idea to rethink that romantic hike along the Brooklyn Bridge promenade and opt for something a little more… well… inside.
Already watched every episode of Masterchef Junior? Then why not cozy up to that special someone—or whatever stuffed animal, electronic gadget, or liquor-of-choice is your physical proxy—and watch an inspiring music-documentary! Here’s a list of our favorites that are 2 easy clicks away on Netflix:
1. “What Happened Miss Nina Simone?” An interesting and provocative portrayal of musician and political activist Nina Simone. She got her start playing classical music and jazz at a bar in Atlantic City and went on to become one of the most recognizable voices in music and politics of her time. (She’s also on Sammy Squeeze’s list of top 5 pianists ever.)
2. “Muscle Shoals.” Tells the story of the famous studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where many of the great soul, blues, and rock recordings of the past century have been cut. Wilson Pickett. Paul Simon. Lynyrd Skynyrd. The Rolling Stones. Aretha Franklin. Our personal connection to Muscle Shoals is that we’ve played with Dan Penn—the songwriter of “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” (this song is appearing on our upcoming EP!)—and Spooner Oldham and David Hood who were two of the session musicians known as the Swampers.
3. “This Ain’t No Mouse Music.” This is a documentary about Arhoolie Records founder and folk music impresario Chris Strachwitz. Chris has spent his life travelling around the U.S. and documenting its folk music traditions. From Zydeco in Texas and Louisiana, to Tex-Mex, to Delta Blues, and Appalachian Old-Time, Chris is responsible for finding and working with some of the previously unsung legends of American music. His label Arhoolie and record store “Down Home Music Store” are both in the East Bay. We’ve performed in the store twice and the last time we did, Chris was there filming us with his iconic old camcorder!
4. “Marley.” There are a bazillion (spell check?) Bob Marley movies out there. This one came out a few years ago and is remarkably entertaining and informative. Goes great with some roti or curry goat from Gloria’s on Nostrand (and of course the right smokes…).
5. “Ain’t In It For My Health: A Film About Levon Helm.” If you don’t know who Levon Helm is, I’m surprised you’ve even made it as far as our blog. The drummer for The Band, Levon passed away several years ago, after spending many years living up in Woodstock. His barn/recording studio was the focal point for an amazing community of roots musicians in the Hudson Valley that have been very inspiring to us. This movie is really great, but if you want to get even deeper into Levon, check out his autobiography, “This Wheel’s On Fire.”
6. “Straight Outta Compton.” This one’s not on Netflix but it’s worth renting anyways. It’s a dramatization of the career of West Coast hip-hop group N.W.A. In addition to being a well-produced and fun movie, it tells an inspiring story of a group of talented musicians, rappers, and DJ’s who got their start making art that was in direct conversation with issues and events in their community. Everyone should watch this one.
BEWARE of these Netflix traps which aren’t worth your time and are definitely going to piss off your significant other:
“Keith Richards: Under the Influence” - unless you’re both die hard Keith Richards fans.
“The Other One: The Long Strange Trip of Bob Weir” - a long strange trip to sleepy land.
Make Music. Make Love. Happy Valentines Day.