"Thank You Friends: Big Star's Third Live...and More" to Premier at SXSW

by Paul Cashmere, Noise11

The SXSW Film Festival will premiere Thank You, Friends: Big Star’s Third Live …And More.

The movie and live album will become available worldwide on April 21 but, ahead of that SXSW, delegates will have the first official viewing of the movie.

Thank You, Friends was directed by Benno Nelson of Yes Equals Yes. The film includes performances by a who’s who of indie rock, including Jeff Tweedy and Pat Sansone of Wilco, Ira Kaplan (Yo La Tengo), Robyn Hitchcock, Dan Wilson (Semisonic), Benmont Tench, Jessica Pratt, Brett Harris, Django Haskins, and Skylar Gudasz as well as a full chamber orchestra helmed by San Francisco’s acclaimed Kronos Quartet and conducted by Carl Marsh, who wrote the original orchestrations for Third/Sister Lovers.

Big Star’s Third album is a musician’s fav.

The album was written and recorded when the band was primarily a studio project consisting of guitarist Alex Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens.

Third (or Sister Lovers, as it was alternatively known) had never been performed in public with the original string and wind arrangements.

That changed in 2010, following Chilton’s untimely death just two days ahead of a much-anticipated Big Star performance at the South by Southwest Music Festival. That December, famous friends and fans assembled from far and wide to play a fully orchestrated Chapel Hill, N.C. gig in Chilton’s honor.

From there, the core players (including sole surviving Big Star member Jody Stephens, Mike Mills (R.E.M.), Mitch Easter (Let’s Active), Chris Stamey [the dB’s], plus the Posies’ Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer) took the show on the road internationally, enlisting guest stars and orchestras in each city, and performing not only songs from Third, but also material from Big Star’s first two albums, #1 Record and Radio City. That core ensemble, along with a star-studded cast of guest artists, assembled in April 2016 at Glendale, Calif.’s Alex Theatre for the epic concert seen in Thank You, Friends.

Thank You, Friends: Big Star’s Third Live … And More will premiere at Austin, Texas’ Alamo Ritz 1 on Thursday, March 16 at 6:30 PM.

A Q&A with Benno Nelson, Jody Stephens, Mike Mills, Chris Stamey, Ken Stringfellow, and Skylar Gudasz will follow the screening. An orchestrated live concert of this music by many of the core ensemble featured in Thank You, Friends will take place at the Central Presbyterian Church on Friday, March 17 at 10:30 PM.

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