« Previous Post | Pop & Hiss Home | Next Post »

Trailer premiere: 'Troubadours' documentary showcases the rise and influence of the Troubadour club

It's a club whose name has become shorthand for a certain sound, and a certain vibe: The Troubadour.  The intimate West Hollywood club, since its opening in 1957, has introduced some of the world's most acclaimed singers and songwriters to Los Angeles, and the world.

A new documentary about one of the most important partnerships to blossom at the club in the late 1960s and early 1970s, between musicians James Taylor and Carole King, will premiere this weekend at Sundance Film Festival, and Pop & Hiss offers you a first look at the trailer to the film, called "Troubadours." Directed by Morgan Neville, the film is subtitled "Carol King - James Taylor - The Rise of the Singer Songwriter," and provides a look into the Laurel Canyon and West Hollywood scenes that gave rise to artists ranging from Tom Waits and Joni Mitchell to Jackson Browne, Elton John and Harry Nilsson, among many others.

The film features interviews with important musical voices of the era, including former Times pop music critic Robert Hilburn; producer/visionary Lou Adler; actor/banjo player/comedian/writer Steve Martin; Kris Kristofferson; J.D. Souther; and Elton John.

It's been a good year for King and Taylor, whose 2010 American tour focused on the songs the pair worked out at the Troubadour 40 years prior. Their closeness and obvious affection for each other onstage struck a nerve among concertgoers, who helped make the tour one of the most successful of the year. Neville, a seasoned cultural documentarian with a passion for L.A. stories -- his previous films include "The Cool School," about the Los Angeles art scene of the 1960s and '70, "Johnny Cash's America" and "Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story" -- sought to capture the essence of King and Taylor's relationship for "Troubadours."

After the film's premiere in Park City, Utah, it will be broadcast throughout March as part of PBS's American Masters series. Concord Records will release a combination CD/DVD package on March 1, which, in addition to the 90-minute film, will be augmented with a CD of classic tracks from that fertile period of L.A. song: King’s "It’s Too Late," Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James," Waits' "Ol' 55," Bonnie Raitt's "Love Has No Pride," Elton John’s “Take Me To The Pilot," Warren Zevon’s “Poor Poor Pitiful Me," Little Feat’s “Dixie Chicken,” and others.

-- Randall Roberts

Comments () | Archives (8)

I have to say how proud I am to have been involved in this documentary and the 'Troubadour Reunion Tour' this past year! This was a magical time never to be seen again ..............

This is "my" music...I started the 70's as a teenager and read everything I could about the Troubadour through Rolling Stone and other magazines of the time. Eagles, Jackson Browne, Carole King, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Elton John, and many others filled my album collection. I devoured the covers of these albums and grew to admire Leland Sklar, Danny Kortchmar, Waddy Wachtel, Russ Kunkel, J.D. Souther, and so many others for their extraordinary work to bring the music to life. Alas, my one dream of being at the Troubadour when they were all "hangin' out" never came to pass. However, I believed there was something magical about that place at that time and I still do.

My husband and I attended the Troubadour Reunion concert this past summer, along with our two children, 20 & 22. The four decades between us vanished as we sang along to these timeless lyrics...an evening I'll never forget. Thank you!!

Boy, what a time, that early JT from Newport Folk is the best thing I've seen in a long time, these artists could really move a crowd and made music that I love to this very day! Original, Iconic, Genuine, thrilling(for me), True Talent, "like no Other", ....these are the things I think about with these folks. I receive such happiness from this music, and the "WAY" they presented themselves, or the way they could change, dramatically, one of their songs by just changing a note, or pitch, or cadence, here or there(especially Taylor), these are the important things, and why this whole thing is so great, and beautiful...oh yeah, and TIMELESS.

Can't WAIT for this documentary to be released!! This is in the wheel-house of my generations favorite music. Thanks to ALL the great artists and musicians!

Another time, another place captured so well. This documentary provides so much insight in retrospect, delivered by the artists that were there. It was a fertile time for songwriters and musicians all in one place, at one magical moment in time, in numbers that we are unlikely to see again. They chronicled the individual feelings of a generation.

There's also an underlying story that I see, maybe due to how long I've followed and admired these talented individuals. It's about the journey that Carole King, James Taylor and Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar, Leland Sklar and Russ Kunkel have traveled, and of a "friendship" that even the word fails to adequately describe, but watching them interact musically and personally you will know what I mean. "Troubadours" will leave you.......feeling.

TROUBADOURS screens Sat 2/19 9pm The Art Theatre of Long Beach w/Producer Q&A + Live Set from THE FERGUSENS!



I just saw this, ordered it. It is fabulous, unreal. Well done, and honestly done. It is so much fun to be a James Taylor fan, as he is such an interesting guy. This is from a fan perspective only. I never met James. But, as a true fan, getting to see the coverage of Newport Folk 1969! my God, so great. Getting the perspectives of each of the interviewees, such a treat, and way worth the cost. I am proud of these guys for their contributions, and very proud of James. He was always himself, and kicked ass doing it, without being phony-cause he is a star who probably doesn't care or wants to be a star, and this is what works. Jackson Browne writing such great songs at 15 and 16 years old, what legends!!! Bonnie Rait such talent and heart! I can go on and on, but I just say that this was a long-time coming, and I wish I was old enough to have been there(and survived).


Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...


Recent Posts

Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: