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    marye
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    The tour that inspired "Might As Well." Somebody posted that one of the stops on this tour was his first show. I am so envious. The movie is now out on DVD, and let's just say, you'll laugh, you'll cry, but you should not on any account miss this.

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  • October 27, 2016 - 1:10pm
    LazyLightning
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    Festival Express...
    Amazing record of a unique tour/journey! Loved it. Since so little live footage of that era exist, this documentary is even more special; would really like to see the missing Traffic & Ten Years After recordings, if they're viewable at all.
  • January 10, 2016 - 6:37am
    MJE
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    Gramless Music
    Tommaso->>The Flying Burrito Brothers performs well even though there's no Gram Parsons (it could sound strange, but I prefer the post-Parsons lineup). << Doesn't sound strange to ME. Gram was such a powerful presence that they almost seemed like his back-up band. Without him, the rest of the talent got the spotlight....and they sure filled it! -MJ
  • August 11, 2014 - 10:49pm
    A.Cajun.Head
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    Buddy Guy....
    I am watching this again tonight here on my night shift.... I notice the first song they show Buddy Guy playing ... " Your love gives me such a thrill.... but your love doesn't pay the bills...." In light of the protests for the festival being free instead of paid.... this makes a lot of sense. :)
  • July 30, 2014 - 1:05pm
    jackazz flatts
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    FE
    Great Movie!!!
  • December 6, 2013 - 10:44am
    Tomoms
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    Mashmakhan
    I like their instrumental (the first performance in Calgary). It's called "Traditional Country Song".
  • December 6, 2013 - 10:41am
    Tomoms
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    Great show
    I fully agree with Thats_Otis.The Flying Burrito Brothers performs well even though there's no Gram Parsons (it could sound strange, but I prefer the post-Parsons lineup). Chris Hillman on bass rocks! The Dead's performance of "New Speedway Boogie" and "Don't Ease Me In" are great! I also like Sha Na Na's performance of "Rock 'n' Roll Is Here To Stay" and The Band. Gotta love when on the train Bob Weir plays his guitar with strange facial expressions :-)
  • November 5, 2013 - 10:27am
    Thats_Otis
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    Buddy Guy...
    Am I the only one that feels like the footage of Buddy Guy is a little strange? For starters, it sounds like he is terribly out of tune (at least to these ears.) Also, I find his playing very sloppy and lackluster, something I know Guy's guitar work is NOT. Second, he walks off the stage and spends the majority of his solo playing either with his back to the crowd or away from them all together. (My memory may be a little foggy on this, but I seem to remember him actually going behind the stage so that the majority of the crowd (the 99%) couldn't see him at all.) What I do remember is that everytime I have watched that scene, I wonder why Buddy Guy is so pissed off at the crowd. To me, his actions seem angry and aggressive and suggest that he really didn't care about playing for the people of Canada... maybe he had an experience that really upset him? Of course, I am probably reading into this too much, as I have been known to do while under the spell of such an awesome movie experience, but it's what I see. Interested to hear any comments and thoughts ya'll may have. (BTW - The Burrito Brothers DESTROY in this! Even without ol' Gram!)
  • December 22, 2010 - 1:59am
    EllenCherry
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    Absolutely, "Ain't No More
    Absolutely, "Ain't No More Cane" takes it for best scene. Sometimes I just watch this part for a quick smile! My next favorite is easily "The Weight". I used to think of this as sort of a forlorn, wishful song, but this performance changed my whole perception of it. I love the gritty, forceful, almost aggressive vocals, not to menion Danko's awesome facial expressions and kinda overly-pronounced words during vocals. What a character!
  • December 1, 2009 - 10:40pm
    Dream Weaver
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    Saw this Instantly on Netflix
    Man, was I ever blown away! It was so melodic and powerful; really took me back in time. I swear I caught a contact high! We're fortunate what film exists will now, hopefully, be preserved for our posterity to enjoyl. That week riding the rails across Canada must have been one sensational trip! Seeing Janis so relaxed, natural and seemingly carefree was great too. All in all, it was bittersweet--so many of these great artists no longer play at this venue of ours anymore. Hope we manage to score tickets for their next BIG gig together--you know, the Reunion Show with all the encores and curtain calls. Nobody will be pushing for the EXIT or in a hurry to get home from there.
  • September 28, 2009 - 10:52pm
    feelinggroovy
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    This was really a wonderful
    This was really a wonderful movie. Hey, im only 14 but heck I stayed and watched the whole thing!!Best movie ever!!!! :)
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The tour that inspired "Might As Well." Somebody posted that one of the stops on this tour was his first show. I am so envious. The movie is now out on DVD, and let's just say, you'll laugh, you'll cry, but you should not on any account miss this.
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everyone in that car late at night with Danko, Jerry, Janis et al. singing "Ain't No More Cane"and the camera panning the car during the Garica solo. So far and away beyond epic....and Weir at the end falling into the sofa with his guitar and facial expressions. Garica hitting on Janis. I just loved Rick Danko. Rest in peace you gifted trio of music specialness. Reminded me of late nights with the crew during our "hayday". This piece was kinda the gold standard to me, in a great movie. “The Omnipotent Grateful Dead!”
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http://www.festivalexpress.com/ Back in 1970, these Canadian would-be promoters hatched the brilliant scheme of chartering a train, filling it up with assorted rock stars, and going across Canada, stopping periodically for a stadium show. Not only would it be big fun, they'd all get rich. And hey, they'd film everything and make a movie and get even richer! When it came to lining up the talent, these guys had taste. In addition to a number of bands I never heard of, they brought in Janis Joplin, The Band, the New Riders, the GD... the list goes one. When it came to a few practical considerations, things didn't work out so swell. For one thing, Canadian hippies suddenly got the notion that all music should be free, so ticket sales were lousy and gate-crashing a constant issue. There's a really poignant scene of Jerry remonstrating with the crowd, saying they were going to do a free show-before-the-show, but hey, musicians had to eat too. Also, since other options were limited, alcohol was consumed in massive quantities by people who weren't entirely used to doing so, and one's viewing of the film is somewhat overshadowed by the thought of the hangover that must surely have followed. There is another incredibly sweet, poignant scene of Rick Danko, Marmaduke, Jerry and Janis Joplin in which they are all completely sloshed except Janis, who's just in her glory. Janis is, in fact, in her glory for the entire movie, with not a hint of tortured soul about her. There's lots more. But the bottom line is, the promoters ran out of money really early, they stiffed the film guys, and in retaliation the film guys ran off with the film. Thirty years later about a third of it turned up in some garage, after being used as hockey pucks by the camera guy's kids for years. That was used to make the film (and, necessarily, determines what we get to see). The rest of it's still out there someplace, or gone forever. So this is definitely flawed. But it's also amazing and not to be missed. Can't find a ride like that no more, indeed.
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there was an autograph on the booklet, and I had to think about whose it was before deciphering that it was Ian Tyson's. Ian and Sylvia, soon to be divorced, were also on this tour, and Sylvia's interviewed fairly extensively. Ian appears fleetingly off to the side of the stage every now and then, which was enough to make me go, OMG, Ian Tyson! I never got to see Ian and Sylvia live, but luckily got to know their stuff in college and it's in my DNA. And let's just say ol' Ian was a serious hottie. Probably knew it too, but between that voice and his songs (as I recall, "Four Strong Winds" was the first one he wrote, while recovering from rodeo injuries) you gotta give the man his due. Well, it turns out that pretty much for the last few decades he's had a thriving career in cowboy music, and not long after I got the DVD, he was in town playing the Freight. And, lemme tell you, he may be in his 70s and walk like he's been bucked off a few too many horses, but he's still pretty darn swoonworthy. I picked up a couple CDs while I was there, but had brought along the DVD just in case, and when it came to autograph time at the end of the show, I presented it. What's this? wondered one of his backup musicians, a beefy young dude named Gordon (both of them were named Gordon. One of the running jokes was that every Canadian child born in the '70s was named after Gordon Lightfoot, including the girls). So I started explaining, and said Ian and Sylvia were in it. "Sylvia's in it, I'm not," sez Ian. I kept explaining the thing to young Gordon, finishing up with "it's kind of hard to explain. It was a different time." "Yeah, it sure was a different time," says Ian. But he signed it.
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The DvD is well worth watching Jer looks like he is having a "Real good Time" Bob W - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Spanish Jam
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Besides the obvious of the jams in the cars and the live footage of the Dead and Janis, there is the Amazing Buddy Guy. And I love it when there are shots of Jerry in the audience and he is watching Sha Na Na thoroughly enjoying it with his big Jerry smile. Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.) Walt Whitman-Song of Myself
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I have heard that a reporter on the train taught "Me and Bobby McGee" to Bobby and Janis. The rest is history. Jerry "This is but a dream we dreamed one afternoon long ago." Box of Rain Lyrics by Robert Hunter Music by Phil Lesh
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I really love Jerry singing "Cold Jordan" on the train.
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I got the DVD a few months ago. I love it! The Dead, The Band, Janis, Flying Burrito Bros., Buddy Guy and more. What's not to like? And all the performances are just superb. And as a train buff, I just love the old pre-VIA Rail CN paint scheme! The train actually started out of Montreal. They couldn't find a Montreal venue for a show, so they started their first show in Toronto. As a native Montrealer, boy, was I pissed at that news! I remember that whole endeavour, as I was aware of the concert-trip, and followed it in the local music press. Boy was I envious!
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Apparently, this song was not in the Festival Express DVD. Enjoy!
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  • Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter wrote the song "Might As Well" about the Festival Express train trip. This song, performed over the years by The Grateful Dead, has lots of lyrics referencing this trip: "Long train running from coast to coast/bringing long the party where they need it the most" and "Never had such a good time/in my life before/I'd like to have it one time more/One good ride from start to end/I'd like to take that ride again."
  • There were two bands, Traffic and Ten Years After, that were on the Festival Express tour but are not seen in the movie. The producers of the film could not get the musical rights.
  • In the "C.C. Rider" jam scene, Jerry Garcia can be seen playing the famous rosewood Fender Telecaster played by George Harrison in the last public performance of The Beatles, on the roof of Apple Headquarters. It was loaned to Garcia by Delaney Bramlett; the two can be seen on-stage together during the jam. Harrison had given it to Bramlett after they toured together briefly.
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    Most likely Calgary, 7-03-70 Jamming on the train. Rick Danko, Janis, ?, Jerry, Bob Weir.
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    Never had such a good time.... I was always happy these guys got to do this. As Bob said, "That train was buzzin down the tracks". “The Omnipotent Grateful Dead!”
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    John "Marmaduke" Dawson of the New Riders next to Janis above.
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    Here' another rare goody from the Wiinipeg concert. This one is also missing from the official DVD.
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    I like the tie-dye speakers, purple shirts, cowboy hats and acoustic guitars from the Calgary, 7-03-70 photo. Nice visual. Jerry, Bob and Billy look good. Thanks Ed. Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.) Walt Whitman-Song of Myself
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    Some of my dates may be off. I'm going by what Deadbase tells me, and what I see on the DVD, and what the setlist off of the Festival Express website says. Oh, it's soooo confusing! :-P
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    Man, am I dumb! So I go and examine the first disk of the Festival Express DVD and what do I find but a "Special Features" segment. I click on that and what do you know, but "Bonus Performances" shows up! I've had this DVD for about 8 months and never looked past the main feature. OK - so "Hard to Handle" and "Easy Wind" are there after all (but just not in the "official movie"). Just to correct a previous error - in the pic of the band on stage, that is from Toronto, 6/27/70. The "Hard to Handle" vid is from Calgary, 7/03/70, and the "Easy Wind" vid description is correct. The pic of the group on the train is most likely from the evening of 7/02/70, just before they arrive at Calgary. All I can say, is that the whole DVD is priceless!
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    Hiphistorian (or Hip historian) was my nick name "back in the day", when we were hippies. I've always been a stickler for collecting social artifacts and memorabilia, and the Hippie era is one of my favorites. Back around late 1967, I started to collect and save every bit if hippienalia that I could find, including posters, local underground newspapers, flyers, etc. I still have them all today. My friends were aware of this habit and gave me that moniker. I am also aware of historical continuity, and like to keep a historical order in things, particularly momentous occasions and performances. This is why I'm such a stickler for dates of artifacts. I'm quirky that way.
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    I've had the DVD for probably a couple of years, but never watched it because, as hinted earlier, the whole thing's kind of intense. So, finally watched it yesterday, with liberal use of the fine capabilities of freeze frame. Personally, I think it does better on the small screen, just because (as I recall) it was shot on essentially Super 8, and therefore the big screen really taxes its resolution. I was lucky enough to attend what I think was the first screening in SF, and the basketball-size grain of the film was sometimes an issue. On a TV screen, no problem. But the other thing--even though we're all here because we're Deadheads, as it were--so many of the other artists are just stunning. E.g. The Band. I'm here to say that at the aforementioned screening,it took about a verse and a half of "Slippin' and Sliding'" to get the mellow crowd on its feet screaming. On our way home from said screening, my friend Bennett and I got to talking about how much one's sense of The Band is formed by The Last Waltz (and rightly so; Martin Scorsese, what's not to like...), when, as Robbie Robertson so accurately said, they were at the point where they had to get off the road before it killed them. Here you see 'em eight years earlier, not so far removed from being the baddest-ass bar band in Canada, taking no prisoners. Every one of those guys just tears your heart out.
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    I'm quite certain that the film was shot in 16mm. Super-8 would have had grain the size of medicine balls. 16mm film typically has larger grain per frame than 35mm. But, if you want portability and ease of camera-work, you shoot 16mm. Woodstock was also shot in 16mm. Lot's of Arri's and Eclair's used there, especially Eclair NPR's. The problem with grain is that grain is increased when you dupe the film. Shooting an internegative increases grain. Unless you shoot 16mm Kodachrome (impossible for a commercial release), you going to have grain. That's the nature of 16mm film. Doesn't matter - gives the film that gritty, documentary look, which is exceedingly fitting for this film.
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    ...shall we go, you and I while we can... So, John Platt told it in the Deadhead's Tapers Compendium first, but the story goes on and was coorberated by GDP. The way in which Festival Express came to be was that the Grateful Dead agreed to allow the footage in the movie to be used in exchange for another 90 hours of similiar stuff, including all the concerts along the way,be returned to the Vault, where presumably it sits today. ALSO, the Canadian National Film Board claims to have all of it, the full amount of footage of the entire trip in its archives. Apparently, they archive stuff like documentary footage and provide the filmmaker with some tax advantages if they get a copy. Well,I guess it goes to show that if you look hard enough, if it was filmed or recorded,it still exists. BTW as far as we know, that's all still on (deteriorating) 16mm film stock and ought to be digitally preserved. The CNFB says they have 150 reels!!!
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    Yes, 16mm deteriorates. Now I'm not so sure about the negatives, but 16mm print film deteriorates if not kept dark, and in a climate controlled (temperature and humidity) environment. The negatives can easily be color-corrected, or "color timed". I used to collect old 16mm TV commercials, and most of them have faded badly, even though I keep 'em in a dark location, in cans, and in a cool basement. 16mm prints were made on Eastman Kodacolor printfilm stock, which has a relatively short lifespan. I used to convert regular 35mm color print negs to slides, using EK printfilm stock and it never lasted more than a few years. I imagine it will be up to the original producers to request any digital conversions. In believe that the NFB vaults are in Montreal, Ville St. Laurent, to be precise. I use to drive by NFB headquarters all the time.
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    I really enjoyed Festival Express for many of the same reasons others note in this thread .. the cool paint job on the old 'CN' trains, Rick Danko in the bar car on the last night, watching the rythym guitarist for Buddy Guy get crazy on stage, but also the performance by Mashmakhan - I had never heard of them prior to Festival Express, but really liked their sound. Unfortunately they were pretty well ahead of their time and broke up soon after. Anyone else like them ??
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    after "Ain't No More Cane".....bobby, "ain't no more gravy in the queso!" // jerrry telling janis he's loved her ever since the day he met her (drunk jer!!) // janis asking how danko is feelin'....and then, "we can't stop now, can we man?!" wish they'd go bonkers and release an extra 4 discs or so of extra performances on and off the train
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    That was also my favorite scene. They all looked so young and happy.We watched FE with our 10 yr. old son, and afterwards we had a pretty serious conversation that I don't think would have happend if it weren't for the magical express! Buddy Guy rocked & I really dug the Buritto Brothers Peace
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    ya, how cool is that scene with buddy jamming and going down to the crowd level?! and his band was awesome. that bass player stole scenes throughout.....his singing on the train.... heck, just his hair was worth the price of admission! i'm curious--- what kind of serious conversation was sparked by the film? and btw, i've had a few friends who are not heads who totally were enthralled by the movie, so it stands on its own as a documentary too.
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    I wonder if Jerry's tie dye got thrown in the communal wash with the other band members clothes since when they are all on stage their shirts are all the same shade of purple! I noticed that and it made me laugh.Check it out next time you watch it! BTW, the New Speedway and Hard To Handle in the movie are stupendous, as is Janis's footage. A great video! Too bad there is no footage of Mountain or Delaney & Bonnie though...bummer!
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    just saw this a few days ago for the first time. One of those online movie places has it available to watch instantly. Give me Garcia on the SG and Weir on the 335 any day. I love that sound. | Wait until the veil is shredded, then reveal it |
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    Indeed it is a classic movie, But as for the "Canadian Hippies" wanting to get in for free I do belieive this was a problem of all "North American Hippies" not understanding the buisness end of the music. They all felt music should be free to listen to (get a radio then) like when the Dead would go to the park in SF and just play for everone. The train idea was fantastic as the performers said cause it let them all be together after the show for a long period, insteed of taking off in their buses to the next gig. The promoter in the movie had all the right intensions and the jam to prove it. Like telling the train company CN that he wanted the train to travel east to west and getting a full dinning car instead of just a catering car with cold sandwhichs, Or hiring more police for crowd control which was only needed for the people that thought it should be all free. But like Bob Weir said it takes a lot of money to get these bands on the road and they need to make a living too. I never heard that the promoter stiffed the film company, but like the guy said in the movie the were hurting at the box office cause of the protests and bad press. But he kept the train a rolling for the bands and did not spare expenses for them.
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    The best part for me was when they made a liquor run at the train stop in Saskatoon. The city is in a province where nobody travels to because "the prairies are so flat!" I was glad to see that my hometown was profiled for about 2 minutes with all those wonderful groovy 'lil artists! tsss...... :) ~littlebri
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    I'd drifted away from the Grateful Dead over the last dozen years since... you know, and music in general hasn't been as big a part of my life, nor has living in the past - I have grandchildren for pete'sake! Then I watched Festival Express with dear old friends, and I caught the bug again, especially with that Calgary performance of "New Speedway Boogie." Suddenly all my old Dead music was getting played again, and I then stumbled upon www.dead.net and the Taper Section etc. This led to finding an actual recording (on the internet archive) of the first show I attended (Utica NY 3-22-73) which changed my life. Insane! Now I'm head over heels back into listening to the Grateful Dead - largely due to the Festival Express DVD. Yes, it's a period piece, but what a period!
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    been out of UK loooooong time & on return my family for first xmas back (which they know we don't celebrate) thought long 'n hard what to get me for prezzie ..lo & behold "express""..2Sorry,we recall ya like GDEAD .theres some of their stuff on it & a load of other stuff too hope its ok??" ...well, well!!SO good to see the guys havin so much fun onna train!! Funny seeing a young Kenny Gradney (Little Feat /bass) with Delaney & Bonnie at time, A real fine time seemed to be had by all & all performances ,by ALL were xcellent Burritos ROCKED (not enuff footage tho!:( ) I'd recommend this to all Deadheads catches em doin exactly what they do best playin in the band!! have fun watchin folks ..dont get much betta!! PEACE JIMI C
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    I believe all the footage should be cleaned up and released on CD and DVD. I am shocked that the footage is in the GD faults and they have yet to release it. Oh yeah I forgot its probably up to Rhino records to release it. :(
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    it is NOT a Grateful Dead production (hey, neither is Woodstock...) and one of the main reasons the release was delayed and the result is so fragmentary is that the promoters, while they treated the performers like gods, stiffed the crew bigtime, with the results that the camera guys ran off with the reels. It's something of a miracle that this was rescued at all; as I understand it the reels that were salvaged represent about a third of what was shot.

    This is, of course, an oversimplification. But it is simply inaccurate to assert that the footage is in the GD vaults or that Rhino Records has jack to do with the whole thing. It's not even in the Store. And, as asserted above, while the Canadian National Film Board may have a full set, the Grateful Dead sure don't.

    Hell, the Dead don't even get top billing on this. And they sure didn't call the tune.

    It's still great.

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    This was really a wonderful movie. Hey, im only 14 but heck I stayed and watched the whole thing!!Best movie ever!!!! :)
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    Man, was I ever blown away! It was so melodic and powerful; really took me back in time. I swear I caught a contact high! We're fortunate what film exists will now, hopefully, be preserved for our posterity to enjoyl. That week riding the rails across Canada must have been one sensational trip! Seeing Janis so relaxed, natural and seemingly carefree was great too. All in all, it was bittersweet--so many of these great artists no longer play at this venue of ours anymore. Hope we manage to score tickets for their next BIG gig together--you know, the Reunion Show with all the encores and curtain calls. Nobody will be pushing for the EXIT or in a hurry to get home from there.
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    Absolutely, "Ain't No More Cane" takes it for best scene. Sometimes I just watch this part for a quick smile! My next favorite is easily "The Weight". I used to think of this as sort of a forlorn, wishful song, but this performance changed my whole perception of it. I love the gritty, forceful, almost aggressive vocals, not to menion Danko's awesome facial expressions and kinda overly-pronounced words during vocals. What a character!
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    Am I the only one that feels like the footage of Buddy Guy is a little strange? For starters, it sounds like he is terribly out of tune (at least to these ears.) Also, I find his playing very sloppy and lackluster, something I know Guy's guitar work is NOT. Second, he walks off the stage and spends the majority of his solo playing either with his back to the crowd or away from them all together. (My memory may be a little foggy on this, but I seem to remember him actually going behind the stage so that the majority of the crowd (the 99%) couldn't see him at all.) What I do remember is that everytime I have watched that scene, I wonder why Buddy Guy is so pissed off at the crowd. To me, his actions seem angry and aggressive and suggest that he really didn't care about playing for the people of Canada... maybe he had an experience that really upset him? Of course, I am probably reading into this too much, as I have been known to do while under the spell of such an awesome movie experience, but it's what I see. Interested to hear any comments and thoughts ya'll may have. (BTW - The Burrito Brothers DESTROY in this! Even without ol' Gram!)
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    I fully agree with Thats_Otis.The Flying Burrito Brothers performs well even though there's no Gram Parsons (it could sound strange, but I prefer the post-Parsons lineup). Chris Hillman on bass rocks! The Dead's performance of "New Speedway Boogie" and "Don't Ease Me In" are great! I also like Sha Na Na's performance of "Rock 'n' Roll Is Here To Stay" and The Band. Gotta love when on the train Bob Weir plays his guitar with strange facial expressions :-)
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    I like their instrumental (the first performance in Calgary). It's called "Traditional Country Song".
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    Great Movie!!!
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    I am watching this again tonight here on my night shift.... I notice the first song they show Buddy Guy playing ... " Your love gives me such a thrill.... but your love doesn't pay the bills...." In light of the protests for the festival being free instead of paid.... this makes a lot of sense. :)
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    Tommaso->>The Flying Burrito Brothers performs well even though there's no Gram Parsons (it could sound strange, but I prefer the post-Parsons lineup). << Doesn't sound strange to ME. Gram was such a powerful presence that they almost seemed like his back-up band. Without him, the rest of the talent got the spotlight....and they sure filled it! -MJ
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    Amazing record of a unique tour/journey! Loved it. Since so little live footage of that era exist, this documentary is even more special; would really like to see the missing Traffic & Ten Years After recordings, if they're viewable at all.