This 95 minute DVD feature film traces the evolution, from folk roots in the Kentucky hills through innovations which shaped modern forms. Over 100 songs by Bill Monroe, Stanle y Brothers, Mac Wiseman, Jimmy Martin, Flatt & Scruggs, Osb ourne Brothers.
“The story of bluegrass is the story of Bill Monroe’s musical legacy.” So begins this superb 1991 documentary, which frames its historical survey around Monroe, the father of Kentucky bluegrass. As Monroe visits his old Kentucky home, now dilapidated and full of memories, the film traces the emergence of bluegrass from Appalachian descendants of Scotch-Irish settlers, and a variety of bluegrass greats (including narrator Mac Wiseman) offer informative anecdotes, accompanied by evocative archival footage and concert performances from the bluegrass festival circuit. Monroe’s dominance is duly acknowledged, but ample time is devoted to his contemporaries and successors, including the fast-pickin’ duo of Flat & Scruggs, the Osborne Brothers, Jimmy Martin, and finally Alison Krauss, who passionately defends the music’s acoustic purity. The rise, fall, and consistent revival of bluegrass is thus chronicled through oral history and visual record, resulting in a priceless film that even casual fans are sure to enjoy. –Jeff Shannon
From the Back Cover
With uncommon passion and devotion, High Lonesome traces the evolution of bluegrass, one of America’s most vital musical fusions, from its folk roots in the Kentucky hills through the innovations which shaped its most modern forms. With over 100 songs and a keen thread of the cultural and historical forces running through them, High Lonesome captures the heart and soul of the music and its founder Bill Monroe, along with other seminal figures. The story unfolds through the words and songs of the musicians themselves, flawlessly matched with images imbued with an intimate front porch feel. Linking the music’s birth with the social upheaval of the Great Depression and following it through the maze of American modernity, High Lonesome is more than just the vividly rendered story of bluegrass. It’s a vision of how life has changed in America and a testimony to the enduring strength of a music that has continued to find voice over decades of shifting musical taste.