“There is a special connection between American folk music and the railroad that has no parallel elsewhere in the world. Rail lines stitch together the sprawling fabric of American song. As writers of Americana music, our goal is to draw on the deep, recurring sources of American folk culture, giving them new shape,” explains The Grahams’ Alyssa Graham in Rattle the Hocks, a music documentary to be released in digital format on Friday, July 8th.
The short film, directed and produced by Cody Dickinson (founding member of the North Mississippi Allstars and son of the late legendary producer Jim Dickinson), captures the Grahams’ relentless journey to explore the relationship between train travel and American roots music. However, what is inadvertently captured is a husband and wife living their own American dream.
Dickinson aptly captures the rhythms and energies of the transport system, as Doug Graham’s masterful resonator slide work and harmonies fuel Alyssa’s locomotive voice and acoustic guitar chords. Together for months they ride Amtrak lines such as the Adirondack, the Texas Eagle, the Heartland Flyer, the Sunset Limited, and the famed City of New Orleans, crisscrossing the country as the land that informs their songs whizzes by.
To Dickinson, working with the Grahams was a joy and a gift. He believes very few recording artists can perform with cameras around — it takes a special kind of talent and willingness to bear your artistic heart and soul. But even more so, it takes trust. “That trust means the world to me and is what translates into a beautiful performance,” says Dickinson. “The Grahams are the real deal, they thrive in the moment. That’s what makes Rattle the Hocks so compelling and exciting.” “Riding the rails gave us richer opportunities for this kind of work, allowing us to make the connection between rail and American song new, in a way that also honors the deep tradition of that connection,” notes Doug.
Rattle The Hocks has already screened as an Official Selection at several highly-respected U.S. and International film festivals including Napa Valley Film Festival, Chagrin Falls Film Festival, and the London Raindance Film Festival, where it was nominated for Best Short Film. The documentary also earned the 2016 Lagniappe Award for Short Documentary at the Mississippi Crossroads Film Festival.
Concurrently, The Grahams will be on tour in support of their latest CD, a deluxe version of their 2015 album Glory Bound produced by Wes Sharon. The Deluxe CD features five newly recorded, David Garza-produced tracks. Released March 25, 2016 on Three Sirens Music Group via Sony’s Red Distribution, the album was recorded at Austin’s Church House studio with the help of several musical friends including Sara & Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek), John Fullbright, and Milk Carton Kids’ Kenneth Pattengale.
If you’re in the Cleveland, Ohio area this weekend, head over to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for a concert and screening on July 9th; for more information on the film, visit http://www.rattlethehocks.com/#rattlethehocks.