Mountain Music Project up for documentary award

Danny Knicely and Tara Lindhart are a pair of bluegrass pickers and private instructors in Northern Virginia who have dedicated themselves to the furtherance of this music. They maintain a full schedule of students, many of them youngsters, and perform in various configurations in the DC area, and all over the world.

They are also  featured in the 2009 documentary film, The Mountain Music Project – A Musical Odyssey from Appalachia to Himalaya, which is up for an award from the World Music and Independent Film Festival. The award is chosen by visitors to the WMIFF web site, and The Mountain Music Project is nominated in the Best Documentary/Music-Feature category.

The film chronicles their 2006 journey to Nepal, looking for common threads in the folk music traditions of the Appalachian people and the mountain folks in southern Asia. It was shot and directed by Jacob Penchansky who with a ten man crew from the US spent 3 weeks traveling in Nepal, filming local musicians in Gorkha, Lamjung, Pokhara, Palpa and other locations.

Penchansky explained his vision for the project in a 2007 interview with the Nepal Times.

“The first time I heard a sarangi being played, I immediately noticed the similarities to Appalachian music,” says Jacob Penchansky, a “guerrilla ethnomusicologist” from the US, who has been working on an ambitious musical project with the Gandharbas. Penchansky says the melodic scales and rhythms on the fiddle and sarangi are very similar, and the lyrics touch on the same aspects of peasants’ everyday life: “No matter what country you’re in, people like to share the same kinds of stories when they’re done working in the fields.”

“We were especially looking for old songs that might not be passed down to the next generation, and for any Gandharbas who still went village to village as wandering minstrels,” says Penchansky.

The trailer really gives a feel for the film.

To vote for The Mountain Music Project in the WMIFF awards, visit their awards voting page online. They are currently in 3rd place.

Danny and Tara have maintained a blog about the film for several years, including during their time in Nepal. Very interesting reading.

UPDATE 3:50 p.m. – We have been informed that multiple votes are allowed, though only one per day. Ballot box stuffers, do your thing!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.