2011, NR, 90 min. Directed by Nathan Christ.
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., May 6, 2011
Echotone’s ambitiousness is both its selling point and its chief stumbling block. In 90 minutes' time, Nathan Christ’s documentary about our so-called live music capital of the world touches on the evolution of Sixth Street, Downtown condo construction, the sound ordinance fracas, and the hand-to-mouth existence of most working musicians in Austin. Echotone is scattered, for sure (the sound ordinance battle is poorly handled), but as an anecdotal account of Austin in the first decade of a new century, it’s rarely anything less than compelling. Christ has an eye for strong personalities, including the charismatic Joe Lewis of Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears; a camera crew shadows him as he makes deliveries for Quality Seafood. Appropriately, great care has been taken with the sound design, but even more striking is Robert Garza’s cinematography, especially as his camera hops a ride on Downtown’s many construction cranes to document a dazzling city in transition, be it for better or worse. (For an interview with the filmmaker, see "Living Music in the Live Music Capital," April 22. Q&As with the filmmakers will follow each screening.)