Why Old Time?Why Old Time? is a new film from Chris Valluzzo and Sean Kotz of Horse Archer Productions that seeks to answer that musical question in a documentary film format.

The project is still in the editing stage, and Valluzzo told us that he isn’t sure what the run time will be, but that they are hopeful of seeing it released on DVD in late April 2009.

“Like a lot of folks I found this music through Bluegrass. It spoke to me like no other genre has. It seemed so comforting and real.   As I read the new river valley old time listserv and the passionate folks on there commenting on all things Old Time, and being relatively new to Old Time, I thought to myself… ‘Why?’

Why are they so passionate. What is it about this music that that they love so much. So instead of just asking folks and getting an answer, I decided to answer that question with a documentary. It’s my way of honoring this music that I’m new to, but love so much.”

Chris and Sean visited a number of prominent old time music conventions and festivals in 2008 to shoot, with an eye on capturing people’s perception of the music, and why they loved to play it. They made stops at Union Grove and Mt. Airy in North Carolina, Clifftop in West Virginia, and Elk Creek in Virginia where they shot hours of footage of jams and conversations.

They also interviewed Mike Seeger, David Holt and Mark Campbell along with members of several old time bands they met during their 2008 festival crawl.

The producers are currently shopping the film to PBS stations, and hope to see the initial interest they have received pik up once they have a completed video to screen for them. It will also be entered into film festivals, and promoted to independent theaters in the Appalachian region, and hopefully nationally as well.

Valluzzo said that he expects the DVD will run 70-90 minutes, and will include both the “TV edit” and some DVD-only content.

“Additional special features include ‘cutting room floor’ which will be individual segments that didn’t make it into the film but are interesting and entertaining none the less.  Also there will be a musical performance section where folks who played for us as part of their interview will have their musical performance shown uninterrupted.  There will be interviews with the crew and producers. And maybe a couple other items.”

They have created a trailer which is posted on YouTube (view below), and a higher resolution version can be found on the Why Old Time web site.

Horse Archer intends to make a number of other films about Appalachian old time music. They are currently editing a film about fiddler Henry Reed of Giles County, VA and plan to embark on others once the current batch are completed.

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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.