Cover Story: Rural Rock & Roll

Film hits all the right notes

Director Jensen Rufe sent a note along with a DVD of his documentary that read, “You only have to watch the first 10 minutes. That’s enough to get an idea of what the movie is about.” Either he is remarkably shy or remarkably savvy because I was hooked by Rural Rock & Roll (5 stars, Sun., June 11, 4:45 p.m., at Cinefest) well before the first 10 minutes were up. The film chronicles the extraordinary music scene in the remote outpost of Humboldt County, Calif. (about six hours north of San Francisco). The groups — which include the Hitch, the Buffy Swayze and the Ian Fays — all play different kinds of music, but have forged such a scene in Humboldt that few of them have the ambition to play out-of-town gigs. Instead, they perform in local clubs and at house parties with no expectation of fame, for the simple joy of playing music. The film is reminiscent of Athens, GA: Inside/Out, Tony Gayton’s 1987 movie about the emerging Athens scene. Rufe’s film hits all the right notes. The scene in Humboldt is quirky, vibrant and rich with talent, and Rural Rock & Roll captures it beautifully.