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Festival Express Reviews

Page 1 of 8
Bob S

Super Reviewer

December 21, 2007
some filler - but great concert footage of Janis, The Band and the Dead
Mark A

Super Reviewer

May 28, 2009
Back in the summer of 1970, an historic event took place that few here in the states knew about. A year after Woodstock, a promoter put together another festival with several big-name acts, including, among others, The Grateful Dead, The Band, and Janis Joplin, and scheduled three, outdoor, day-long concerts at three separate cities across Cananda. What made it historic, was that the bands travelled across Cananda together on one chartered train that became a week long jam session. This film records that entire experience and brings just a taste of it to the screen. This viewer happened to be one of the lucky few to have not only heard about the Festival Express, but actually attended the concert in Toronto that kicked it off. What a show, and what a time the musicians had. This film shows them on-stage and on the train, making music, and just plain having a great time. The commentary is provided by those who were there, remembering a time that can never be recaptured as several performers are no longer with us. Watching Janis reminded me of what a great talent she was and what a great loss that she met an early end. She definitely held nothing back in her performances and left it all on stage. Five stars!
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

July 9, 2005
[font=Century Gothic]"Fesitval Express" is a documentary about a series of music festivals that took place across Canada in the summer of 1970. In order to get from one end of the country(Toronto) to the other(Calgary), the musicians involved took a rented train that had been chartered by a promoter. The musicians included the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Band and others. The various musicians came together on the train which allowed them to spend time together, party and jam pretty much for 24 hours straight.[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]"Festival Express" is a rollicking tale of music which balanced idealism vs commerce - protesters saying all music was free and not wishing to pay(did this also happen at the Isle of Wight festival?) vs the right of the musicians to make a living. In Toronto, at least they found a compromise. Overall, the movie was very enjoyable with lots of great performance footage and music. Plus, it does really capture the joy of cross-country train travel. Further proof this really is the only way to go.[/font]
December 6, 2007
Great little gem for lovers of 60's music. Basically, some of the best music you'll ever hear, all packed on one train.
JohnnyMorelli
June 26, 2007
Very cool documentary. Awesome to see so many great musicians having a good time, so passionate about the music. Makes me wish I could have seen one of the shows firsthand.
anthonytscott
February 15, 2007
It's better than Woodstock. It's that good. The scene with Janis Joplin, Jerry Garcia and Rick Danko hanging out and singing "Ain't No More Cane" is heartbreaking and joyous at the same time.
September 11, 2006
Oh what a great movie. I loved all the footage... it blew me away... all the unseen stuff and all these awesome stories and images and how the whole movie sweeps over you like it was an actual performance.
June 13, 2013
Never a dull moment on two fun-packed discs. The only traveling festival ever was both a massive failure and a massive success. This, BTW started just 5 weeks after my first Dead show. Owned.
December 9, 2011
A rock gem of a movie. Classic.
January 25, 2011
I vory but I'm 99.99% sure that I saw Jackie Burroughs on the Festival Express Train. Am I hallucinating or what? Please respond. J.
Oliver Twist
December 27, 2005
I was a poor 17-yr old boy in Alberta when this concert express hit Calgary. I couldn't afford it, and I was resentful. This film reminds me of how much mediocre music there was around then, and how good the good performers (especially Janis Joplin) were. Best scene is J.J. looking bemused and shy during a "spontaneous" jam session on the train, with people some of whom were a lot more ignorant and less talented than she. The movie also reminds us of a pre-MTV, pre-Madonna moment, when musical performers were not judged on their physical beauty or their ability to pose as beautiful.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

July 9, 2005
[font=Century Gothic]"Fesitval Express" is a documentary about a series of music festivals that took place across Canada in the summer of 1970. In order to get from one end of the country(Toronto) to the other(Calgary), the musicians involved took a rented train that had been chartered by a promoter. The musicians included the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Band and others. The various musicians came together on the train which allowed them to spend time together, party and jam pretty much for 24 hours straight.[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]"Festival Express" is a rollicking tale of music which balanced idealism vs commerce - protesters saying all music was free and not wishing to pay(did this also happen at the Isle of Wight festival?) vs the right of the musicians to make a living. In Toronto, at least they found a compromise. Overall, the movie was very enjoyable with lots of great performance footage and music. Plus, it does really capture the joy of cross-country train travel. Further proof this really is the only way to go.[/font]
jazza923
May 9, 2005
I FOUND THIS ROCK DOCUMENTARY TO BE A BIT ON THE BORING SIDE AT TIMES. TOO MUCH TIME WATCHING DRUNK AND HIGH MUSICIANS ON A TRAIN. IT'S NOT THAT I CAN'T REMEMBER THAT ERA, I WAS A TEENAGER AT THE TIME, I DON'T THINK ALL THE MUSIC IN THIS IS A PARTICULARLY GOOD EXAMPLE OF THE MUSIC AT THE TIME. I LOVED JANIS JOPLIN THOUGH, WHAT AN ELECTRIC PERFORMER. AS A DOCUMENTARY ITS ADEQUATE.
BeatlesMan11
February 16, 2005
If you are a classic rock fan and you have not seen this, then what the hell are you waiting for?
Academock
January 7, 2005
[b]DVD [/b]First Viewing, 2 Smeaton films seen

At the end of [i]Festival Express[/i], a guy called the 1970 tour "better than Woodstock." Obviously, I attended neither of the concerts, but based on the films I saw concerning the events, Woodstock was much better. For someone to make a claim like that (and for a director to use it in their film) they need to justify it. I was not sold.
WiseKwai
September 7, 2004
Worth the admission/DVD price for the performances alone, this is a fun look at some great bands - The Band, the Grateful Dead, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Janis Joplin and Buddy Guy, plus a few others I never heard of.

Among the highlights for me were the acoustic take of Don't Ease Me In by the Dead, Slippin' and Slidin' by The Band. Also the jam on the train led by an inebriated Rick Danko, featuring Janis and Jerry. Buddy Guy blew me away. And of course, it was emotional just watching Janis in action.

Burrito Bros performance was noteworthy for the absence of Gram Parsons. Where was Gram in 1970? Was he already on the outs with the band? Have to do some reading up on that.

Just returned to Bangkok and have some catching up to do with my computer and making entries for my vacation.
scottsmith_3
September 2, 2004
A must-see for anyone with a penchant for jam-rock or honkey tonk. Festival Express shows you performances, on and off stage, many of which crackle with raw music passion and rarely paralelled talent. Janis Joplin steals the show with a rendition of "Cry, Baby" that would knock the boots off John Wayne. Jerry Garcia and the Dead do exactly what they do best, transporting you to a warm sunny place. The Band prove they're one of the most underrated groups of all time. Buddy Guy is a man among boys. The story of the concert series promotion and the various snafus that threaten to sink it are less interesting than the pure pleasure of seeing the players enjoying a luxury and comraderie they rarely had the opportunity for in those days of protest and shuttle buses. In the end, it would have been nice to see and hear the musicians in more intimate moments, when they're not performing. We don't really learn anything about anybody we didn't already know. But at heart this movie is more homage than revelation. It's a long, strange trip - and a welcome one.
Movie Knight
July 8, 2004
[color=DarkGreen]Neither a fan or a hater of the performers who populate this rockin' train, I ended up LOVING this movie!

My indifference to the music was overwhelmed by the unbelievable quality of both the images and sound in this 1970 concert documentary. By what [i]magic[/i] did 30 year-old technology capture the Festival Express' jaunt across Canada, then deliver both sight and sound with such stunning clarity and immediacy? It looks and sounds as if it was filmed last week! An outstanding job of putting this film together! It is a rock history masterpiece.

With many extra tracks and treats, the 2-Disc DVD edition is an absolute MUST for any fan of Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, The Band, or any other group involved in this tour. I didn't even have to look at these extras to declare the original theatrical film throughly entertaining!

(Viewed on DVD)
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