June 16th, 2009

June 2009 Update

Posted by site admin in Blog

Things have been busy since we resumed our production schedule in February. We conducted our final major round of interviews in early March ‘09 during a shoot in Nashville. The trip began with a full day’s visit with John’s daughter Katie and her mother Betty (John’s first wife). We interviewed them both and explored the contents of John’s former office, which Katie and her husband have lovingly and painstakingly organized over the course of many months. We scanned and photographed everything we thought we might be able to use to tell John’s story. Katie and her mother were most patient, gracious, and helpful, pulling out things they knew we’d be interested in as we sorted through the numerous Smithsonian-esque collections of information and memorabilia that were once the contents of John’s office. It was a huge boost to our archive, providing some important material from John’s childhood, teens and 20s that we didn’t have much of before that.
The next day we set off to Berry Hill and had two fantastic interviews with Ron McCoury and Mark Howard at Mark’s studio. Ron brought some photos to share, and we scanned them on the spot. We taped both Ron and Mark playing their favorite John Hartford tunes on mandolin and banjo respectively… wonderful! It was a thrill getting to talk with the producer of John’s many wonderful Small Dog-a-Barkin’ recordings. Talking with Ronnie about John was a pure delight as well. He had a lot to say and all of it was good.
The next morning we got over to talk with Cowboy Jack Clement at his Cowboy Arms Hotel and Recording Spa. Jack produced John’s Gum Tree Canoe, Annual Waltz, and Down on the River albums.
We concluded the trip by spending an afternoon with Jamie Hartford and his family, and finally taped our official interview with Jamie. He, too, was wonderfully helpful with details and pointing us towards some of the remaining pieces of the puzzle.
These trips are as exhausting as they are fun and fascinating and amazing… it’s a lot of input in a short time and a constant go, go, go the whole time. We’re a little bit glad to have that part behind us, a little bit sad. We have just a few remaining folks to catch… Glen Campbell and a few others steamboat-related friends of John’s, but we have otherwise wound down the interviewing stage of this project.
There are two remaining location shoots we’re planning; one in LaCrosse, Wisconsin where the paddlewheeler Julia Belle Swain, the steamboat John piloted the most, still runs river excursions; and the other in St. Louis, John’s original hometown.
At the same time, we are gearing up the editing phase. Our edit capability is up and running and we are about halfway done logging all our materials for the edits to come. We’re in the process of seeking some funding, since this part of the process will start requiring more major expenditures than the sorts we’ve incurred up until now (which have been mainly travel, equipment and supply expenses). It’s been just 2 of us working on the documentary until now, but in coming months we’ll be pulling in some key professional people to help. We are also in the process of exploring our manufacturing and distribution options and expenses. Time to put it all together.

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