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218 of 224 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
This movie, part stage show and part local color with a good bit of nostalgia thrown in, is breathtaking, riveting, spellbinding, transcendent. It begins with a night tour of Nashville's exciting places; from the limo window we see Tootsie's, the Ryman Auditorium, Second Avenue, Lower Broadway. We share our ride with Ralph Stanley, who has "come down from the...
Published on July 17, 2001 by Thelma C. Johnson

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great music and performances, but...
...I'm afraid I won't be able to enjoy watching this as often as I would like, because of the backstage and rehearsal footage. The footage of the show leaves me wishing I had an unedited tape of the entire concert. Some of the performances that are included are not even the complete song performance, but get interupted in the middle for some backstage banter or just...
Published on February 17, 2002


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218 of 224 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, July 17, 2001
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This movie, part stage show and part local color with a good bit of nostalgia thrown in, is breathtaking, riveting, spellbinding, transcendent. It begins with a night tour of Nashville's exciting places; from the limo window we see Tootsie's, the Ryman Auditorium, Second Avenue, Lower Broadway. We share our ride with Ralph Stanley, who has "come down from the mountain." We spend time backstage at the Ryman while the performers are waiting their turns, and eavesdrop on John Hartford as he spins a tale about wanting to be a librarian. We listen to a couple of blues players talk about their work and discover that Emmylou Harris is a baseball fan. The show itself is country at its best. Rock and roll doesn't show its face; there are no gyrations or big hats or shrill voices. Just country, with memories of the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, and a plethora of old time musicians who sang of hard times and death and endurance. We will always remember Emmylou Harris's sweet, true voice, Allison Krause's melodic outpouring, and Gillian Welch's beautiful harmony. We'll remember the Peasall sisters and the Fairfield Four and Ralph Stanley; but most of all, we'll remember the magic moment when John Hartford began to sing "Big Rock Candy Mountain." It was one of his last performances before he succumbed to cancer, but his voice was steady and strong, and his hands sure on the violin. This was old time music as it should be, and even the newer songs sounded old. It reminds us of how far modern country music has strayed from its roots, and how easy and pleasant it is to go back to them again.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hook up the surroundsound and pass the bluegrass please!, August 17, 2001
By 
Debra K. Wylie (Bloomington, IL United States) - See all my reviews
I wasn't sure that a documentary about bluegrass music was going to be something that a) I would enjoy, b) something I would find compelling or c) something that would turn me onto an area of music and performances enough to make me rethink my former country snobbishness. "Down from the Mountain" made me a convert on all the above bases and more. This documentary-style film about the music and artists who comprise the soundtrack for "Oh, Brother, Where art Thou?" include the immense talents of Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch. These women have ways of lovingly massaging a ballad until it truly has a life of it's own. The soulful words and melodies of family artists like the Whites, and the Cox family are wonderfully done, as are the younger performers who get to ramp up the tempo for their rendition of "Highways and the Hedges". Then there's the wonderfully dry-witted John Hartford, who takes a few moments aside from his emcee responsibilities to give a toe-tapping rendition of "Big Rock Candy Mountain". The film takes you for a backstage pass (OK, is Emmylou Harris THAT big of a baseball fan!) AND a front row performance in the acoustically amazing Ryman Theatre. Through a mix of gospel, bluegrass, blues and country, the viewer gets a real treat of hearing and seeing what was the musical underpinning for the Coen brother's blockbuster film. You might very well meet some new musical artists in this video. I did. They seem to bear a different countenance from other contemporary artists, demonstrating a solid reliance on song style, harmonies, acoustics, and ultimately bringing "everything out but the kitchen sink" in their delivery, and that was it for me. The words are familiar and the songbirds beckon, come smile, cry, clap your hands, or sing, "Hallelujah!", mountain life is pretty good and your journey's just beginning.
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59 of 68 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Glorious Heartland Sounds, But..., December 26, 2001
By 
Paul Frandano (Reston, Va. USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Down from the Mountain (The "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Concert) (DVD)
Down from the Mountain opens with the inimitable, keening tenor of Ralph Stanley, over a photomontage that takes us, literally, down from the mountain with the Stanley Brothers. The filmmakers and their sound recorders have captured the grace, beauty, and power of the music T-Bone Burnett assembled for the Coen Brothers picture. Although this is primarily a concert film, the performers offer some insights into the music, including Dr. Stanley's by now well-known comments on the roots of "bluegrass" and his general preference for other terminology to describe just what it is he sees himself as performing up there on the stage.
It's also interesting to hear the great "high tenor" observe that this is music one is born into--the solitariness of life in the deep backwoods, that Stanley credits for his "lonesome" sound--rather than a thing easily acquired by outsiders. The movie then jumps to a variety of outsiders, who discovered "bluegrass" in collegetown record bins, and their less appealing ruminations on the music. Here we have Gillian Welch, for example, who has a lovely voice and writes pretty songs, revealing herself as precisely the kind of artist with whom Stanley, elsewhere (in a New Yorker profile, of all things), has said he'd rather not play. (And he does look distinctly uncomfortable in their midst.) The filmmakers capture Welch--inadvertently, I think--in what struck me an entirely too condescending a disposition. As a result, her time on screen seems much too long, particularly when there are Allison Krausses and Emmy Lou Harrises in the house.
Once the concert gets rolling, the performances all sparkle, with those by The Fairfield Four, Krauss and her Union Station band (with Dan Tyminski), and Stanley (again, his hair-raising "Oh, Death") sparkling and then some. The courageousness of concert host, fiddler, raconteur, and riverboat pilot extraordinaire John Hartford, who would soon die of cancer, is most moving, quite apart from the conviction and emotional power of his music. And the picture and sound quality of this particular DVD is superior. (Spot the celebrities in the audience and win a cigar...)
I docked this DVD a full star for its failure to include a single performance by the film's heralded "Soggy Bottom Boys," and in particular for excluding "A Man of Constant Sorrow" as performed by the film's band, with Tyminski in the lead. (The version over which the title credits roll, with Stanley singing his own song, is exquisite, but a Soggy Bottom reprise would have been the cherry on top.) A major letdown.
But I nevertheless recommend this DVD highly. There is sufficient variation between the playlist of this concert and the movie soundtrack to warrant the purchase of both. Both indeed comprise "greatest hits" lists for America's great and glorious "down-home old-time mountain music" (pace Dr. Stanley and his terminological exactitude).
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars O, What a Night!, November 20, 2001
By 
This review is from: Down from the Mountain (The "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Concert) (DVD)
All year long, the soundtract to the Coen brother's hilarious film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" has been one of the most played CD s in my CD player.I thought that this musical genre of what many call "old timey music" was a wonderful discovery.With this in mind, I was pleasently surprised when a DVD titled "Down From the Mountain" was released (with companion soundtract) featuring a live Nashville concert of a collection of the original performers celebrating the "O Brother" music. At last I was allowed to see the faces that went along with such beautiful voices such as the Cox Family, the Whites, the Fairfield Four and Gillian Welch. This is a well made documentry from director D A Pennebaker (of "Dont Look Back" fame) along with Nick Doob and Chris Hegedus.The filmmakers do an excellent job of allowing the viewer to see what goes into putting an all-star concert such as this, together. We also get an intimate view of the back stage dressing room areas and the performers (who was to know that Emmylou Harris is a baseball freak who follows the games during her shows?). But the real meat of this documentry is the actual show that was put on at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, one evening of May 2000. It is such a thrill to see so much talent put together on one stage singing and playing such wonderful music.The late John Hartford is an amusing host who introduces us to such powerhouse talents as Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Ralph Stanley and many more.Highlights of that evening included songs such as "Will there Be Any Stars in My Crown", "I'll Fly Away", "O Death" and the evening finale of the classic "Angel Band".The DVD as a whole has a very good looking picture quality and the sound is superb.A minor quibble is that the instant access to the songs could have been done better. This is a wonderful concert, which I heartily recommend you buy for your viewing pleasure.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing, uplifting, amazing, November 26, 2005
This review is from: Down from the Mountain (The "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Concert) (DVD)
You're not going to be able to find another DVD that has all these legendary performers going up one by one to the same stage to perform for the same audience. So if you enjoy "old-timey mountain music", i.e. bluegrass, then just buy this DVD, and prepare to watch and listen again and again.

I have quite a few music DVDs, and I think the quality of this one is superior:

1) It's recorded in 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound.

2) Another reviewer complained about grainy video, but they just need to get a higher quality TV: I have a flat-screen Sony WEGA TV, and the picture is crisp and sharp.

3) Several reviewers have complained about the placement of the backstage conversations, and even the pre-concert footage. Suffice to say that since we weren't the directors, then it's not our decision. All concert DVDs have this extra footage; it's what people expect. I have music/concert DVDs where between every song are long rambling philosophical sermons by band members. It's like, hello! Put that stuff at the end instead of forcing it on people. That's not the case with this DVD. They do cut away near the end of a song by The Cox Family, but they're "keepin' it real", and you have to expect some of that on a concert DVD. Just be glad they didn't slip in some studio-shot music videos! (Like some other music DVDs that shall remain nameless.)

4) I would buy this just for the Cox Family performing "(Will There Be Any) Stars In My Crown," which is a pure bonus, since it was not in the "O Brother Where Art Thou?" movie soundtrack (which I have). In fact this is my favorite song performance of the whole DVD.

5) Some reviewers have complained about the lack of a "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" performance. My suggestion to those who pine for that song is to simply buy the "O Brother Where Art Thou?" movie soundtrack, and you will be the proud owner of no less than four different renditions on four different tracks, by four different blends of musicians. Bon appetite!

6) Lastly, I commend the directors, because in my opinion the screen shots and camera angles were just right. I don't want to have the camera shots jiggling and jumping around like a drunk monkey has ahold of the camera, and I don't want to just see one straight-on view, either. The directors find the right balance in this DVD, with a nice variety of close-ups of the singers and wider-angle stage shots.

Just buy this DVD and enjoy.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What Bliss!, September 10, 2003
By 
This review is from: Down from the Mountain (The "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Concert) (DVD)
The music on this DVD is exquisite. It is so nice to see John Hartford one last time. His dry witty humor was well in tact on this release. When he sings about "the jerk who invented work" on "Big Rock Candy Mountain," I started to howl with laughter. Canadian Colin Linden isn't very well known in the USA, but he's been a favorite of mine since I discovered his "Raised By Wolves" CD. It's nice to have a bit of blues with the bluegrass; and he teams with Chris Thomas King on "John Law Burned Down the Liquor Sto'." Both the Whites and the Cox Family do great little sets, very endearing. The Peasall Sisters are real scene-stealers with "Highways & the Hedges." Alison Krauss is in great voice, perhaps a bit shy on stage, but sings so beautifully. Emmylou Harris is a delight, and funny backstage as the baseball enthusiast. David Rawlings was visually very interesting as his face contorts to wrench emotion as he plays and sings. Gillian Welch does a good job and gets a lot of screen time in this cut. The Fairfield 4's harmonies are classic. Of course, Ralph Stanley is a timeless treasure. Like others, I would have preferred to have the whole concert with the backstage antics as part of a bonus section on the CD; but T-Bone Burnett did an excellent job bringing this music together. I also enjoyed Holly Hunter's humorous opening introduction about John Hartford & the FBI. The DVD is well worth celebrating these artists and this blissful music. Enjoy!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Down from the Mountain, February 28, 2003
By 
joseph s shockey (Kansas City, Missouri United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Down from the Mountain (The "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Concert) (DVD)
This is some great music and to be able to see the actual performers singing the songs is even better. However, the concert is not complete. For whatever reason the filmmakers decided not to show all the performances yet in their infinite wisdom and twisted logic, they put the complete song list in the special feature section. Brilliant. I didn't mind the shortened concert until I saw all the songs that weren't shown. I would still highly recommend this DVD but I wish I could get hold of the editors/filmmakers who decided on showing more rehearsal then actual performance. I feel cheated!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enhances the movie and the soundtrack, December 29, 2001
By 
J. Sutherland "zeppfan" (Southport, North Carolina United States) - See all my reviews
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If your looking for a film that captures the magic of the music of the movie then this is where you'll find it. All the performances in this concert are powerful and moving. The Fairfield four begin the concert with an excellent rendition of Po Lazarus. And the concert gets better and better after that. The best part about seeing this film is that you can see the emotion with which the performers sing in this concert. Emmy Lou Harris steals the show when she sang Green Pastures. At first I was dissapointed when I didn't see The Soggy Bottom Boys (D.Taminski and others) perform "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow", but the fact that there were other songs performed that were not on the original soundtrack only strengthened this already strong concert. The behind the scenes aspect of this documentary/concert film makes the show better as well. This a great film I am sure anyone who loved the soundtrack won't be disappointed by it. It exceeded my expectations and I am usually speculative of great reviews of any kind of film.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars disarming, December 23, 2005
By 
This review is from: Down from the Mountain (The "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Concert) (DVD)
simply wish to make mention of the fact that last night I listened to and watched the video, for approximately the seventh time, of the Down From The Mountain concert. As I sat quietly in the afterglow I could not help but think, that anyone who has ever felt any love of America, its soul, its heritage, its people, and has not yet seen this video is doing themselves a disservice.

I really think that I experienced a transcendent moment watching and listening to one particular segment. When the master of ceremony, John Hartford, an Imp of a man in a black bowler hat and suspenders raised his fiddle and began to play, "That Lonesome Valley", I could hear the lyrics of my mind "when you walk that lonesome valley ...you've got to walk it by yourself." His friends and the audience all knew that this lovely man was dying of cancer and could be gone within the week. But he embraced us with his music and gave us the gift of staring a moment of being truly alive.

I have said it before and I'll say it again, this concert is truly disarming. BB
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Compilation of America's Music, February 24, 2006
By 
Jan Claire (Oakhurst, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Down from the Mountain (The "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Concert) (DVD)
These are the people who appeared in the soundtrack for the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou. There's a whole lot more as

each performer was invited to sing other songs as well and the

best of them were carefully recorded at the Ryman Auditorium in

this wonderful concert, but it was all carefully packaged in this DVD with interviews, and glimpses into the backstage frenzy that goes on in a concert like this.

Emmy Lou Harris, Alison Krauss and Union Station, the late John Hartford as emcee/musician, and a host of gospel, bluegrass and country musicians make this the perfect DVD for having friends over to watch. Perhaps my favorite tracks are the two numbers by Gillian Welch and partner David Rawlings. Both participate with other artists as well, but it is the closing pair of numbers by Dr. Ralph Stanley that give this DVD the stamp of historical significance. If you do not own this DVD, your music and film libraries are incomplete.
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Down from the Mountain (The "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Concert)
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