Long before they began filling arenas around the world and became Bonnaroos unofficial signature act, My Morning Jacket were tearing up clubs around their hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. On May 31st, they return home to perform a sold-out show at the Palace Theatre, which will be streamed live in a YouTube webcast directed by acclaimed filmmaker Todd Haynes as the latest edition of Unstaged: An Original Series from American Express. Launched in the summer of last year, Unstaged is a fascinating, unprecedented use of media that does well the bridge the ever-shrinking gap between fan and artist. Pairing some of the worlds finest directors (David Lynch, Spike Lee and Terry Gilliam) with several of the most consistently intriguing live acts around (Arcade Fire, the Roots and Duran Duran) and streaming the result, live, to audiences around the world is one of the most compelling artistic developments online since, well, ever.
Its interesting to note, though, the details of each Unstaged event. Arcade Fire, who hail from Montreal, Quebec, chose New York Citys storied Madison Square Garden as the home for their big night, while Duran Duran picked one of Los Angeles best kept secrets, the dazzling Mayan Theatre, as their venue of choice. The fellows behind My Morning Jackets opted to keep things close to home, at their native Louisville venue, the sparkling, legendary Palace Theatre. Who doesnt love hometown shows? When asked in a recent interview with CoS as to why he and the band picked Louisville, bassist Tom Blankenship cited the rare opportunity to play a record release show in their hometown, and more importantly, a certain magic thats about in the city. Watching the new documentary One Big Holiday, its not much of a stretch to see, and indeed, feel that very magic.
Shot as part of the forthcoming Circuital deluxe boxset by director/producer team Michael Feld and Christopher Guetig, One Big Holiday is an impacting work that touches on the symbiotic love affair between My Morning Jacket and their beloved hometown, following the acclaimed five-piece band in the week leading up to a sold-out show at the KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville. Remarks from all five members of the band are interspersed with footage of rehearsals with the Louisville Youth Orchestra (as the two parties prepare for their big night), a chat with local up-and-comers Wax Fang, who My Morning Jacket personally selected, and dialogue with various other Louisville community members.
Initially envisioned as a way to capture My Morning Jackets five-night stand at New Yorks Terminal 5, at which the band played an album each night, One Big Holiday took on a life of its own once Louisville native/former My Morning Jacket drummer/producer Christopher Guetig and director Michael Feld travelled back with the band to Louisville in October of last year. While many bands can claim a loyal following back home, itd be hard to top the love My Morning Jacket get on a local level. Everyone from John Timmons, owner of Ear X-Tacy Records, music hub and breeding ground for all things music in the Louisville scene, to the citys former mayor, Jerry Abramson, have nothing but high praises for the band. Even as Feld stated that the filmmakers aimed to not shoot just another movie that glorified the band in question (which he admitted was tough, as the Grammy-nominated act are his favorite band), its hard not to love My Morning Jacket by the time the credits roll. Everything from the markedly humble way each member of the band carries themselves to their wide-eyed adoration they have for their city and fans, you could be excused for forgetting that theyre one of the biggest bands in the country, just weeks away from releasing whats expected to be their second straight album to debut in the Billboard Top 10 and spending the summer headlining some of the worlds biggest festival stages.
Perhaps whats best about One Big Holiday is how universal its subject matter is. While Louisville certainly tempers the film (to be sure, its often one of the film’s main characters onto itself), the film could just have easily been any medium-sized city in the US. In a time when it seems nonsensical to think small, One Big Holiday portrays a tight-knit band whove succeeded on a major scale largely in part due to the support of a true, close-knit grassroots effort. Even as nearly every rock documentary that comes to mind seems to concern itself with primadonnas learning to work together again or some sort of comeback tale, One Big Holiday comes as a reminder that spirits are as high as ever in the world of music.