Review: ‘A Nashville State of Mind’

An ambitious but undisciplined doc about the ongoing growth of the alt-music scene in a city better known for commercial country music.

It’s likely that an interesting half-hour short could be carved out of “A Nashville State of Mind,” an ambitious but undisciplined doc about the ongoing growth of the alt-music scene in a city better known for commercial country music. At 102 minutes, however, pic comes across as self-indulgent (if not self-congratulatory) and drearily repetitive as established artists, up-and-comers and industry insiders prattle on and on about what a hospitable place Nashville can be for folks who want to make music without undue commercial pressure. A few noteworthy live performances might spur DVD sales.

Interviewees praise the nurturing atmosphere in Nashville, where “transplant” musicians and songwriters are said to be mutually supportive, not cut-throat competitive. But despite the enthusiasm evident in those accounts, pic overall has the insular feel of something produced for a small circle of acquaintances, most of whom appear on camera. Doc works best when indie artists such as Jeremy Lister and Katie Herzig stop talking and start singing. Co-directors Jean-Martin Vogel and Eric LaRocca Mainade strive for the deliberately rough-edged look of a print not yet color-corrected, but the stylized visuals are distractions, not enhancements.

A Nashville State of Mind

Production

An MEG Prods. presentation, in association with Rhino Studios, of an MMD Film production. Produced by Jean-Martin Vogel, Eric LaRocca Mainade. Executive producers, Samantha Gibb, Vogel, Mainade. Directed by Jean-Martin Vogel, Eric LaRocca Mainade.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Leonardo Gonzalez; editors, Michael McWhorter, Vogel, Mainade. Reviewed at Nashville Film Festival (Music Films in Music City), April 20, 2008. Running time: 102 MIN.

With

Samantha Gibb, Jeremy Lister, Hank Williams III, Brooke Waggoner, Katie Herzig, Courtney Jaye.

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