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

January 20, 2011 |  6:00 am

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

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