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Filmmakers, Authors and Performers Gather at the Getty to Celebrate the Lives of Great American Musicians

"Feel Like Going Home: Musicians in Print, On Screen and In Concert"
At the Getty May 9-10, 2003

April 24, 2003

Los Angeles--The Getty celebrates musicians and their lives in a two-day festival packed with performances, film screenings, and talks by biographers who have profiled musicians on film and in print. Feel Like Going Home: Musicians in Print, On Screen and In Concert takes place at the Getty, from May 9-10, 2003. 

Named after the famous Muddy Waters song "I Feel Like Going Home,"  the festival captures the spirit of American roots, folk, blues and rock 'n' roll music by examining the lives of some of the country’s greatest musical innovators. The festival brings together a collection of award-winning biographical documentaries, including some rarely seen gems from noted filmmaker Les Blank; and features two discussions—Musicians on Screen and Musicians in Print. The two-day festival culminates in a rousing live concert by singer David Johansen and his roots-music group, The Harry Smiths. The schedule is as follows:

Friday, May 9, 2003
5:00 p.m. – Screening: Muddy Waters: Can’t Be Satisfied
Screening of biographical film (2003, 53 min.) about the towering Chicago blues legend, directed by Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon. Museum Lecture Hall. FREE. Reservations required: call 310-440-7300 or reserve online at

6:00 p.m. – Screening: Films of Les Blank
The New York Times calls filmmaker Les Blank "a documentarian of folk cultures who transforms anthropology into art." This screening will include his 1969 film The Blues Accordin' to Lightnin' Hopkins (31 min.) and the short documentary Dizzy Gillespie (1965, 22 min.). Museum Lecture Hall. FREE. Reservations required: call 310-440-7300 or reserve online at

7:30 p.m. – Discussion: Musicians on Screen
Noted film directors Morgan Neville, Robert Gordon and Les Blank, and Getty Research Institute director Thomas Crow discuss the challenges of bringing the lives of musicians to the screen. Harold M. Williams Auditorium. FREE.  Reservations required: call 310-440-7300 or reserve online at

Saturday, May 10, 2003
2:00 p.m. – Discussion: Musicians in Print
Authors Peter Guralnick, Gerri Hirshey and Robert Gordon, and Getty Research Institute director Thomas Crow discuss approaches to writing biographies of musicians. Harold M. Williams Auditorium. FREE. Reservations required: call 310-440-7300 or reserve online at

4:30 p.m. – Screening: Rare and Unseen Films of Les Blank
A two-hour screening of music films from the distinguished independent filmmaker. Includes A Well Spent Life (1971, 44 min., profiling bluesman Mance Lipscomb) and other films to be announced, including some rarely seen surprises. Museum Lecture Hall. FREE. Reservations required: call 310-440-7300 or reserve online at

6:30 p.m. – Screening: Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll
Directed by Morgan Neville (2000, 90 min.), this documentary explores the life of the senior statesman of American rock 'n' roll, the man who founded Sun Records and made the first recordings of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and many others.

8:00 p.m. – David Johansen and the Harry Smiths in Concert
David Johansen and the Harry Smiths perform soulful interpretations of traditional American blues, folk and country music. Harold M. Williams Auditorium. Tickets $20 ($15 students/seniors), on sale at the Museum Information Desk or call 310-440-7300.

Background information
David Johansen first skyrocketed to attention as the lead singer of the proto-punk band the New York Dolls during the 1970s. The chameleon-like performer next took on the persona of  "Buster Poindexter," a tongue-in-cheek lounge singer complete with pompadoured hair and signature tuxedo, scoring a million-selling hit in the mid-'80s with "Hot, Hot, Hot." In his latest incarnation, Johansen puts his folk- and blues-singing chops to work as he fronts a band of seasoned American roots-music performers he christened the Harry Smiths (named after the eccentric musicologist who assembled the landmark Anthology of American Folk Music). The band has released two well-received CDs, David Johansen and the Harry Smiths in 2000 and Shaker in 2002.

Peter Guralnick is the author of Feel Like Going Home: Portraits in Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll, as well as a two-volume biography of Elvis Presley: Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley, among other books.  The New York Times called the Presley biography "simply the finest rock-and-roll biography ever written –- it must be ranked among the most ambitious and crucial biographical undertakings yet devoted to a major American figure."

Gerri Hirshey is the author of We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The True, Tough Story of Women in Rock ‘n’ Roll and Nowhere to Run: The Story of Soul Music.

Robert Gordon is the author of Can’t Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters (and co-director of the film on the same subject), It Came From Memphis, The King on the Road and The Elvis Treasures. See more on him below.

Les Blank is a noted documentary filmmaker whose music films include The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins, A Well-Spent Life (about bluesman Mance Lipscomb), Sworn to the Drum: A Tribute to Francisco Aguabella, Sprout Wings and Fly (about folk fiddler Tommy Jarrell), Ry Cooder and the Moula Banda Rhythm Aces, Roots of Rhythm, Puamana (portrait of Hawaiian composer Irmgard Fardin Aluli), My Old Fiddle: A Visit with Tommy Jarrell in the Blue Ridge, Marc and Ann (profiling Cajun musicians Marc and Ann Savoy), I Went to the Dance (on Cajun and Zydeco musicians), In Heaven There is No Beer? (on the polka), Huey Lewis and the News: Be-Fore!, Hot Pepper (portrait of Zydeco king Clifton Chenier), the nearly legendary Leon Russell backstage documentary A Poem is a Naked Person, Chulas Fronteras (on Norteño musicians) and Dizzy Gillespie, among others. His other films include Burden of Dreams (1982), an acclaimed documentary on German director Werner Herzog's perilous filming of the feature Fitzcarraldo in the Peruvian Amazon.

Morgan Neville is a documentary filmmaker specializing in cultural and historical subjects. Most recently, he directed, wrote, and produced the critically acclaimed film Hitmakers, a documentary about the rise and fall of songwriting in New York's Brill Building. He also produced celebrated documentaries about Sam Phillips and Sun Records, and Brian Wilson for A&E.  In addition, he directed episodes of A&E Biography about John Steinbeck, Nat King Cole, John Huston, Sidney Poitier, Gloria Swanson, Ray Charles, Burt Bacharach, Leiber & Stoller, and Jonathan Winters. His first theatrical documentary was the award-winning feature Shotgun Freeway: Drives Thru Lost L.A., an examination of the meaning of history in Los Angeles. In 2000, he produced a series of shorts about California history for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for their Made in California exhibit. He has also worked with the Getty on various film projects. Neville collaborated with Robert Gordon on Muddy Waters: Can’t Be Satisfied. He is now directing a film about the life and death of Hank Williams Sr.

Robert Gordon is the author of four books and the director of two documentaries. Can’t Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters was published in 2002 and has won several awards, including the prestigious Keeping the Blues Alive Award. His first book, It Came From Memphis, was recently reprinted and is in development as a documentary. Gordon has also written two books in association with the Estate of Elvis Presley. He produced the CD box set Al Green Anthology, for which his liner notes were Grammy-nominated. His first documentary, All Day and All Night: Musicians’ Memories of Beale Street, aired nationally on PBS and won several international awards. It was included in 1991's New Directors/New Films festival at New York's Museum of Modern Art. The documentary Muddy Waters: Can’t Be Satisfied, which he co-directed and produced with Morgan Neville, has been exhibited at the Smithsonian, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the London Film Festival, among others. His music videos have aired on MTV, CMT, and BET. For the upcoming seven-part series The Blues, executive-produced by Martin Scorsese, Gordon was a writer of the episode entitled "Road to Memphis."


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The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

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