'Echo in the Canyon' chronicles the birth of the iconic California Sound in the Mecca of folk-rock music

'Echo in the Canyon' chronicles the birth of the iconic California Sound in the Mecca of folk-rock music

There exists music in this world that is so deeply embedded in our minds that most forget what a crucial role it played in its time. This holds true for the birth of folk-rock music, or the California Sound, which emerged in the late 1960s in Laurel Canyon, California.

Legendary bands such as The Byrds, The Beach Boys, and The Mamas & The Papas, and numerous other artists wrote some of the greatest music while soaking in the bohemian vibe in the canyon.


A new documentary called 'Echo in the Canyon' tells the story of how one place brought together people, even from across the Atlantic, to create music that will forever define the sound of California. Davis Crosby says in the film: "We were putting good poetry on the radio. There wasn't any of that before it was June-moon-spoon."

An aerial shot of Laurel Canyon in the present (Source: Greenwich Entertainment)

When it comes to stories that came out of the Laurel Canyon music scene, there is definitely enough of those.

Wallflowers lead singer and son of Bob Dylan, Jakob Dylan, appears as the interviewer in the film as he speaks to acclaimed musicians about songs they wrote while in Laurel Canyon.

The documentary has footage from the 1969 Jacques Demy "Model Shop", which first-time filmmaker and former Capitol Records executive Andrew Slater said served as the inspiration to make an album called 'Echo in the Canyon' along with Dylan. The film, Slater said, reminded them of the look and feel of an era that he knew he wanted to explore but never really thought it would turn into a film.

The Beach Boys (Source: Greenwich Entertainment)

Tom Petty, in his last ever interview, spoke to Dylan in the documentary about the inspirational nature of the community in the canyon.

Shortly after The Beatles recorded Rubber Soul, Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys was inspired to make the album Pet Sounds. This, in turn, influenced the British rock and roll band to make Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the rest is history.

The musicians in those days had influences from various parts of the world, they absorbed these into their own work, and then produced something that would echo the work of those that came before. This ultimately pushed the two genres of folk and rock to merge into the iconic California sound of folk-rock.

Jakob Dylan performing at the Echo in the Canyon concert in the Orpheum Theater, California, in 2015 (Source: Greenwich Entertainment)

Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas talks about how her former husband John Phillips wrote the song 'Go Where You Wanna Go' after finding out that she had multiple affairs. 'Expecting to Fly' was written by Neil Young when he basically told his band that he wanted to quit and follow a solo career. Each song has a unique story attached to it that is told in the film. 

The contemporary folk-rock musicians such as Beck, Cat Power, and Regina Spektor speak to Dylan about what the music from that era means to them and how it has shaped their music today. This can hold true for many modern day musicians who frequently cite bands like The Byrds as one of their biggest influences. 

Jakob Dylan (L) and Tom Petty (Source: Greenwich Entertainment)


'Echo in the Canyon' is a beautiful take on an era of music that pays tribute to the place where iconic musicians met and collaborated to create timeless pieces of music.

As Graham Nash says in the film: "The power of music is undeniable. I truly feel it can change the world."

'Echo in the Canyon' will open in select theaters in LA on May 24 and New York City on May 31.

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