Review: 'Echo in the Canyon' flies with Byrds

Sunny doc examines the Laurel Canyon music scene from 1965-1967

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic
Regina Spektor, Jakob Dylan, Beck and Cat Power in "Echo in the Canyon."

The transcendent sounds of the Laurel Canyon music scene of the mid-1960s are examined in "Echo in the Canyon," a telling tale of California dreamin' awash with good vibrations. 

Director Andrew Slater follows Jakob Dylan, the Wallflowers frontman and son of Bob Dylan, as he interviews those who lived it, from Brian Wilson to David Crosby to Stephen Stills to Michelle Phillips, as well as those around it (Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr) and those who were influenced by it (Tom Petty, Jackson Browne).

The peg is a 2015 concert where Dylan, along with artists such as Beck, Cat Power, Regina Spektor and Fiona Apple, perform songs by the Mamas and the Papas, the Beach Boys, the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield. 

Those performances are fleshed out with archival footage and scenes of Dylan and his pals discussing what made that scene, at that time, such an important and resonant moment in pop music history. 

The verdict? There is no verdict. But following the Beatles' appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show," there was a surge of creativity that reverberated through music and was picked up by the community of artists in the Hollywood Hills, who hung out together, shared music and wound up creating a sound that changed music going forward. 

Slater and Dylan's approach is appropriately laid back. Dylan proves a good listener as he lets his subjects wax about the good ol' days, sometimes airing grievances but telling the stories that made the music.

Neil Young, conspicuous in his absence throughout, shows up and rips a solo over the end credits. "Echo in the Canyon" tells a story about a very specific time and place in music, and Young lets the music do the talking for him.

'Echo in the Canyon'


Rated PG-13: for drug references and some suggestive content

Running time: 82 minutes