New Documentary on Cambridge Folk Scene to Premier at Boston International Film Festival

For the Love of Music: The Club 47 Folk Revival, a documentary on the Harvard Square Club 47 where Joan Baez, Taj Mahal, Tom Rush, Judy Collins and many others got their start, will debut on April 17 at the Boston International Film Festival.

The 105-minute film features interviews with Baez, Rush, Mahal, Collins, Maria Muldaur, Geoff Muldaur, Jim Kweskin, Jackie Washington, Jim Rooney, Peter Rowan and many others. It also features previously unreleased music and rare photographs, featuring Bob Dylan, Baez, Eric Von Schmidt and others. Included in Folk Revival are audio recordings of two unreleased Bob Dylan performances, Talkin’ World War III Blues and With God on Our Side, and a Dylan with Eric von Schmidt version of the traditional hymn Glory, Glory. These archival performances were recorded at the Club and are currently under preservation with the New England Folk Music Archives.

Additionally, there are also newly captured performances, bringing together stars from Club 47’s heyday performing with today's best-known and emerging folk artists, including Ellis Paul, Antje Duvekot and 14-year-old Hayley Reardon.

Peter Coyote narrates the film, which documents the fateful day in 1958 when a young unknown singer named Joan Baez talked her way into becoming the first folk act to play the tiny Mount Auburn Street jazz club. From there, the film documents how the club blossomed to play a pivotal role in the American folk revival, which peaked in popularity in the mid-1960s.

“At the heart of it all was an amateur scene,” singer-songwriter Tom Rush says in the film, “people playing for the love of the music.”

For the Love of the Music also explores the harsh business realities Club 47 faced over the decades, while also providing a platform for the civil rights and anti-war movements. And the film looks forward to the influence Club 47 and, later, Passim, has had and continues to have on folk, blues, bluegrass and rock ‘n roll.

“The Club 47 scene was unique,” said the film’s executive producer and co-director Todd Kwait. “Unlike the Greenwich Village folk scene that was developing at about the same time in New York, Club 47 wasn’t a bar run by a club owner but rather a non-profit coffee house. That made for more of free-flowing atmosphere with more collaboration between the club and the artists.”

"Those ten years were like a Camelot Moment," added co-producer/co-director Rob Stegman. "This was an unusual group of extraordinarily talented musicians, coming together almost by chance, yet launching a revolution in American music that inspired generations of artists and music lovers."

Spending two years working on this project, Kwait and Stegman traveled to Berkley, CA, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vermont, West Virginia, New York City and Cambridge to conduct 30 on-camera interviews. In May of last year, they also organized a special live concert filmed at the Putney School in Putney, VT bringing together veteran and upcoming musicians.

Though this is their first feature-length collaboration, the two filmmakers first met as freshman at Boston University in the late 1970s. Kwait is President of Ezzie Films, and previously produced and directed Chasin' Gus Ghost,’ a history of jug band music, and Vagabondo about singer Vince Martin. Stegman is President of BlueStar Media, and has been producing for corporate communications, broadcast and cable television for over 30 years; most notably Old Ironsides Returns to Sea for the History Channel and Tim Allen: Just for Laughs for TLC.

For the Love of the Music was produced in collaboration with The New England Folk Music Archives and its founder Betsy Siggins, whom is featured prominently in the film. She was a founding member of Club 47 and later Executive Director of its successor, Club Passim.

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