Echo in the Canyon: California Sound at its Best

Stephen Stills in the studio in ECHO IN THE CANYON. Courtesy of Greenwich Entertainment.

Echo in the Canyon is a love letter to the folk rock music originating from the Laurel Canyon and became what we know today as the California Sound.

It’s kind of funny when you think about it but the California Sound doesn’t happen without the British Invasion.  Mainly, four lads from Liverpool who we know as The Beatles.  Funny enough, Pet Sounds would influence Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  Yet here we are focusing on a number of bands to come out of Laurel Canyon.  Specifically, a two-year period taking place between 1965-67.  This is when The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, and The Mamas and the Papas would go on to form the classic sound.

While David Crosby gets his own documentary due out later this year, we get some insight from the guitarist.  He’s not the only one offering insight.  All the guys from Crosby, Stills, and Nash talk about this particular time in history.  It’s not just limited to the CSN folks.  There are so many musicians here who reveal details that we–as fans–have never heard before.  We get one of the final interviews with the late Tom Petty–the film is dedicated to his memory.

While the Echo in the Canyon Band performs covers of these classic hits, we also get clips of the original songs, too.  So many clips!  The film features clips from Model Shop mainly to set the time period.  With an 82-minute run time, perhaps the only downside is that we don’t get the full-length versions.  Anyway, one such song included is Buffalo Springfield’s protest anthem, “For What It’s Worth.”  This is one of the best folk rock songs ever in my opinion.

To much credit, Andrew Slater directs this documentary about a bygone era.  In doing so, we get this era captured in a different way.  Musicians open up on how their hit songs came to be.  Meanwhile, the conversations in the film really do paint the picture of the era.  It’s certainly not surprising that Jakob Dylan is the one who takes us down this journey.  If you’re not familiar, his father is Bob Dylan.  As such, Jakob is someone who would be familiar with many of them.

In making this film, maybe Slater will influence a new generation of music lovers.  We’ve been celebrating the 50th anniversaries of classic bands, albums, and songs.  This year alone marks the 50th anniversary of Woodstock.  Maybe it’s no surprise that we’re seeing all these films that also serve as love letters to our favorites.

If you’re a fan of the California Sound, Echo in the Canyon will certainly resonate with you.

DIRECTOR:  Andrew Slater
FEATURING:  Jakob Dylan, Tom Petty, Stephen Stills, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, David Crosby, Roger McGuinn, Lou Adler, John Sebastian, Jackson Browne, Fiona Apple, Beck, Regina Spektor, Graham Nash, Cat Power, Michelle Phillips, Norah Jones, Jade Castrinos

Greenwich Entertainment opened Echo in the Canyon in theaters on May 24, 2019. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.