Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on

19Apr/0912

Wilco – Ashes of American Flags DVD

I can't imagine that there are any Wilco fans that haven't nabbed the new concert film Ashes of American Flags that is out on DVD right now as part of an exclusive one week release at indie retailers to celebrate Record Store Day, prior to a regular scheduled release on April 28th at all major retailers.

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But if you haven't gotten it, you'll really want to grab it this week. Anyone that purchases the DVD will receive access to downloads of all 20 live tracks contained on Ashes of American Flags. There is no time limit on this special bonus.

Here's the exclusive kicker: This week only (until 4/27) your DVD purchase will also grant you access to downloads of the full show from 2/27/08 at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. That's 48 total live tracks PLUS an amazing documentary/concert film, which was well worth the $16.99 that I paid for my copy of Ashes of American Flags.

For me personally, the D.C. show has personal favorites "Handshake Drugs," "California Stars," AND "Via Chicago." Score!

Accessing the Washington D.C. download can be a little bit tricky to figure out - I would suggest that you should check out the how-to rundown thanks to the fine folks over at Via Chicago.

Ashes of American Flags was directed by Brendan Canty and Christoph Green. The pair are the brains behind the Burn To Shine performance series (which captured Wilco performing "Muzzle of Bees") and have one previous Wilco-related project under their belt with the Jeff Tweedy Sunken Treasure DVD release.

The footage is really stunning - Ashes is the kind of project that should put Canty and Green in the same sentence with Jonathan Demme and others that have captured and created similar concert documentaries. Shot at five different venues, Tweedy and Wilco are captured onstage in a variety of settings, both in front of audiences, and also a couple of soundcheck performances, all blended together with vividly picturesque scenery of life on the road, and lots of interview footage with the band. It was a thrill to see Wilco crammed on the stage at the legendary Tipitina's in New Orleans, with the Total Pros horn section stuffed in the balcony above the stage, inches away from the fans sitting nearby.

Any chance that one has to see Nels Cline play guitar is a chance that should be pounced on. During my time trading DAT tapes in the early 90s, I got my first exposure to Nels via a fellow named Gary on the DAT-heads mailing list. When Gary wasn't pushing stereo equipment on the masses, he was offering up Nels shows to anyone and everyone that would listen. There certainly wasn't a mad clamor for Nels material on this particular list, but he kept offering every Nels show that he could get his hands on.

It looks like Gary got the last laugh - it turns out that that Nels fellow really did have something special going on, and Wilco recognized that and nabbed him to play lead guitar, a position that he has been in since early 2004. Cline has plenty of accolades that have been heaped in his direction, including being named one of Rolling Stone's Top 20 New Guitar Gods...an honor that is better late than never!

Ashes of American Flags offers you the chance to experience for yourself, what I feel to be the definitive lineup of Wilco - Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, Pat Sansone, Nels Cline, Glenn Kotche, and Mikael Jorgenson. In a short time period, Wilco have risen to the number three slot on artists/bands that I've seen the most, right behind Bruce Springsteen and Blue Rodeo. Unquestionably, they are one of my favorite bands touring right now. Having seen Wilco three times last year during the Sky Blue Sky touring cycle, I can tell you that Ashes is definitely very representative of the tour. The film clocks in at a tad past 80 minutes, and all song performances are complete and uncut. Even better, the cuts/transitions from one camera angle to another are extremely well-crafted and won't give you a seizure while you're watching it.

Wilco, Canty, and Green have certainly captured a concert, but have also delivered something that is a "film" in the fine tradition of some of my favorite great rock films like Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads, Heart of Gold by Neil Young, the newly added The Last Waltz by The Band, and U2's Rattle and Hum.

Ashes feels like a classic that I'll be watching for years to come, and is a great gift to Wilco fans, and an even better intro flick for anyone that might be Wilco-curious.

Wilco - Wishful Thinking (live performance from the Ashes DVD)

Related:

Here's a great interview with Ashes director Brendan Canty about the film.

  • George Merkel

    When you listed the members of the band you forgot Pat Sansone, the guitarist/organist/vocalist who’s a huge part of Wilco’s sound. Favorite band indeed.

  • Matt Wardlaw

    HA….that’s funny, because I agree…he is a huge part of their sound. That was a slip on my part :-) Thanks for the heads up!

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  • Michelle T

    Can you post that DC show for those of us who didn’t get the DVD at the time?

  • Pingback: Wilco (the stream) + Free Online Midnight Screening of "Ashes of American Flags" | TheFrontloader.com()

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