& roll definitely appropriated from African Americans, so why not from
Native Americans too? In this case, it is more of a case of not getting their
proper due. A number of key Native rockers really made rock rock the way it
did. Their stories are told in Catherine Bainbridge & Alfonso Maiorana’s Rumble: Indians Who Rocked the World (trailer here), which screens
during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
the title and the poster, it should be clear rock guitarist Link Wray holds a
special place of significance in Rumble.
Bainbridge, Maiorana, and dozens of musicians across genres convincingly make a
case that his driving instrumental “Rumble” influenced just about every hard
rocker who came after him. It also holds the distinction of being the only
instrumental to be banned in the late 1950s rock & roll panic, which
perversely warms our jazz hearts (it just goes to show, you don’t need lyrics
to move people).
Bainbridge & Maiorana tell half a dozen such stories, giving overdue
ovations to influential rockers, anyone of which could (and possibly should) be
expanded to feature length. However, that gives the film a somewhat patchwork
feel. There really is not much of a through-line, except for the periodic guilt
trips. At least nobody can say Rumble fails
to deliver what it promises.
fact, one could argue it is rather contemporary, given the section featuring
Pat Vegas from
whose hit single “Come and Get Your Love” is heard during the opening sequence
of Guardians of the Galaxy, which is
about as mainstream-crossover as you can get. There is also some good material
on bluesy Taj Mahal sideman Jesse Ed Davis and late, great Ozzy drummer Randy
Castillo. (In general, one of the most refreshing aspects of the film is its
respect for sidemen and an understanding of their contributions.)
course, nobody would call Robbie Robertson from The Band unheralded, but here
he happens to give some insights into the early days of electric Dylan that
fans should appreciate. Likewise, the Native heritage of three towering icons
Mildred Bailey, Charley Patton, and Jimi Hendrix are also explored (though the
latter gets considerably more screen time).
tries to shoehorn as much as it can into its 100-some-minute
running time, which really isn’t such a terrible documentary filmmaking
strategy. It is certainly much more informative and compelling than Neil
Diamond’s Reel Injun (co-directed by
Bainbridge). If you want to hear Native rockers (and you probably do, whether
you realize it or not), Rumble is a
good place to start. Recommended for old school rock fans, Rumble: Indians Who Rocked the World screens again this afternoon
(1/28) in Park City, as part of this year’s Sundance.
Labels: Documentary, Link Wray, Sundance '17