Have there been any other documentaries about specific music venues, that you maybe took inspiration from?
TW: When it comes to a specific venue, I don’t recall anything about that, but there was a very special connection that was sort of some glue that really brought all this together. I was living in Boulder, Colorado, at the time that this documentary called Muscle Shoals premiered.
Muscle Shoals is not about a venue but about a town in Alabama, which is coincidentally very close to my hometown. Being that it was premiering in Boulder, Colorado, a film about music in Alabama, I was just sort of interested in that. And it was coincidentally the same weekend that my dad was coming to visit Boulder for the weekend that it was premiering.
So we walked down to the Boulder Theater to watch this amazing music documentary about this place in Alabama, Muscle Shoals, and the film was just so incredibly good that people were stomping their feet at the end of it, and it was so well done, and the list of artists in that film is just amazing.
So I ended up connecting with the producer and director, Freddy, and the stars aligned in such a strange way that the day I had a meeting with him, was the exact same day, about an hour later, that I would have a call with Jeff Trisler [from Live Nation] to talk about this project. It was really unusual serendipity that happened with that film, and Freddy was able to give me some good early advice about how to start tackling a project like this, so that was a great inspiration for us.
I think in our project, I really don’t know that there’s another film about a specific place like that. I know there are some [documentaries about] great moments in time, like Woodstock, but as far as being about a specific place like this, I like to think it’s somewhat unique.
ND: I like the Muscle Shoals comparison a lot, though, because even though it’s not another venue, something that that film does, that I think ours hopefully achieves as well, is that it shows how this small town — and in our case, really not a town at all, just a small piece of land — can become the epicenter of so much incredible music, so many incredible stories. This is literally a patch of rural Washington farmland, that is hours from any city. So when any show at the Gorge happens, it becomes the largest town in the county. There is nothing there.
It is unbelievable the power of music to bring people to these unique locations around the world. Muscle Shoals, to be recording music because of the sound and the feeling that they have there and the energy, or whether it’s the Gorge, bringing artists and fans, literally millions of fans to this patch of farmland. It is like Woodstock, in that way, in that all of these people came for this experience, and the difference is it’s been repeated time and time again up there.
I’ve always associated the Gorge with Phish — I’m used to seeing the Phish concert shirts with the date and venues listed, and the Gorge is always on there, and I knew some people who used to trade tapes. Did you try to get Phish to participate in the documentary?
TW: I think we were very close to lining up an interview, and I think it was just a matter of logistics, and we couldn’t make the dates work. But we certainly did reach out to them and they were interested and I think it was supposed to happen but we just couldn’t get it on the calendar, unfortunately.
ND: It’s always a logistical [thing.] We’re an independent crew, Tim and I have been driving the ship for six years trying to get this thing made. So there are so many logistical hurdles and trying to pair that with musicians’ schedules. They were great, but we weren’t able to make it happen, unfortunately.
Was the film all done before the pandemic, or were you still doing some post stuff?
ND: It was done! It was done and it was coming out, there was actually a release date of April 21, 2020. And if that could allude to anything, the entire thing was canceled, because that was right at the beginning of COVID. I think we had over 500 theaters across North America confirmed and tickets were selling, and it was actually going to be quite a large event.
It was kind of that time frame where we all knew this was going to be a thing, but we didn’t know how quickly and how big it was going to affect the entire country and world. But our movie was no exception to the challenges that everybody went through for COVID.
But I had to say, it was making a long and difficult project even longer and more difficult to go through that entire process, and the silver lining in all of this is that the timing now couldn’t really be better. We’re bringing out a film as things are reopening and people are very excited to get out and see films and now concert tours are being announced and going on sale again.
The Gorge is reopening this season, so the timing is really exceptional for this to be coming out, it lined up very well I think.
So this is a one-night-only screening, is that correct?
TW: Yes, it is July 21, one night only, I believe there are certain markets that have the discretion to play it additional nights, based on demand, so no pressure, world and music listeners out there, if there’s demand, I believe additional certain markets will be showing it additional dates.
ND: No, there is pressure! If you want more screenings in your area, let the people know, spread the word, and we’ll get more dates.
Is there a streaming plan, after the theatrical?
ND: We have plans to release digitally, I think it’s not possible to say specifically which platform or platforms it will be available on, but it will be available digitally and we will be making announcements about that. The time frame is looking like just at the end of summer/beginning of fall.