Festival Express

Film, Documentaries

Time Out says

Way back in 1970 – before cloth-eared lawyers with eyes on the quick buck took control of the music industry – a train traversed the Canadian wilderness with a group of laid-back musicians on board, stopping every so often for them to perform at the odd makeshift festival. It was a privately chartered train and the musos in question – The Band, The Grateful Dead and New Riders of the Purple Sage, raunchy rock chick Janis Joplin, gospel-blues partners Delaney & Bonnie and bluesman Buddy Guy – were among the greatest of their era. A rollicking time was had by all, as so admirably demonstrated by Smeaton’s lush, verité-style record of the event. Soused and stoned, they jammed seemingly non-stop for the entire journey. Many of these onboard musical soirées come over as gloriously ragged and deeply soulful; others, however, get bogged down in a cacophonous mire of licks and solos. On stage, though, they mostly perform impeccably, none more so than Joplin, who tops it all with another one of her barnstorming performances.


Release details

Release date:
Friday September 3 2004
90 mins

Cast and crew

Bob Smeaton
Janis Joplin
The Grateful Dead
Buddy Guy
The Band
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