Hail, Hail Rock & Roll Documentary Film Series

Join us for a seven session documentary film series on Thursday evenings this spring. Focusing on American Rock and Roll, the series will look at the development of the genre from the 1950s through the late 1970s –-  with a grand finale screening of the classic spoof This Is Spinal Tap!

Thursdays, April 17 - May 29 | 6 - 8:15 pm | PPL Auditorium (3rd floor)

Film Series Moderator: Dave Lussier, a Providence composer/arranger of over 350 songs. Dave has been a student of the “School of Rock” for over 35 years and brings his expertise to the PPL Film Series of classic Rock Docs.


Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll

Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll is a 1987 documentary film directed by Taylor Hackford that chronicles two 1986 concerts celebrating rock and roll musician Chuck Berry’s 60th birthday at the Fox Theater in St. Louis, 1986.

For Chuck Berry's 60th, Keith Richards assembles a pickup band of Robert Cray, Joey Spampinato, Eric Clapton, himself, and long-time Berry pianist Johnnie Johnson. Joined on stage by Etta James, Linda Ronstadt, and Julian Lennon, Berry performs his classic rock songs. His abilities as a composer, lyricist, singer, musician, and entertainer are on display and, in behind-the-scenes interviews, are discussed by Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bruce Springstein, the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, and others. There's even a rarity for Berry, a rehearsal.  Archival footage from the early 1950s and a duet with John Lennon round out this portrait of a master.

Washington Post review:


Running Time: 120 minutes



Don’t Look Back

In spring, 1965, Bob Dylan, 23, spends three weeks touring in the United Kingdom. D.A. Pennebaker's camera follows him from airport to hall, from hotel room to public house, from conversation to concert. Joan Baez and Donovan, among others, are on hand. It's the period when Dylan is shifting from acoustic to electric, a transition that not all fans, including Baez, applaud. From the opening sequence of Dylan holding up words to the soundtrack's "Subterranean Homesick Blues," Dylan is playful and enigmatic.

In 1998, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Running Time: 96 minutes



Elvis: The ’68 Comeback Special

Originally conceived as a generic variety hour until Presley took creative rein, the result is a perfect blending of white hot performances and exciting production numbers that re-cast his classic hits in a modern, vibrant light. Looking impossibly sexy with an urgent raw edge to his voice only hinted at during his formative years, the boy who dared to rock during the dawn of that genre has matured into a man in complete control once more.

Among the high points of these classic 50 minutes: a thrilling sequence commencing with a triple-threat medley of Heartbreak Hotel, Hound Dog, and All Shook Up paves the way for a blazing Jailhouse Rock (Elvis barely suppresses a laugh while maneuvering the tongue twister lyrics) and beautifully re-arranged versions of Can't Help Falling in Love and Love Me Tender, which topple their original 45rpm incarnations; a rousing gospel sequence that pays homage to Presley's musical roots, including a moving Where Could I Go But to The Lord and a furious tent-revival take on the once obscure Leiber-Stoller composition, Saved; down and dirty jams on Baby, What You Want Me to Do? (featuring Presley's gritty, underrated rhythm/lead combination riffing) and an earth-shattering One Night.

Running Time: 76 minutes



Let It Be

Let It Be is a 1970 documentary film about the Beatles rehearsing and recording songs for the album  Let It Be in January 1969. The film features an unannounced rooftop concert by the group, their last performance in public. Released just after the album, it was the final original Beatles release.

The film was originally planned as a television documentary which would accompany a concert broadcast. When plans for a broadcast were dropped, the project became a feature film. Although the film does not dwell on the dissension within the group at the time, it provides some glimpses into the dynamics that would lead to the Beatles’ break-up.

Running Time: 80 minutes


MAY 15

Gimme Shelter

Gimme Shelter is a 1970 documentary film directed by Albert and David Maysles Charlotte Zwerin chronicling the last weeks of the Rolling Stones’ 1969 U.S. tour which culminated in the disastrous Altamont Free Concert. The film is named after "Gimme Shelter”, the lead track from the group's 1969 album Let It Bleed. The film was screened at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival, but was not entered into the main competition.

In December of 1969, four months after Woodstock, the Rolling Stones and Jefferson Airplane gave a free concert in Northern California, east of Oakland at Altamont Speedway. About 300,000 people came, and the organizers put Hell's Angels in charge of security around the stage. Armed with pool cues and knifes, Angels spent the concert beating up spectators, killing at least one. The film intercuts performances, violence, Grace Slick and Mick Jagger's attempts to cool things down, close-ups of young listeners (dancing, drugged, or suffering Angel shock), and a look at the Stones later as they watch concert footage and reflect on what happened.

Running Time: 91 minutes


MAY 22

The Last Waltz

The Last Waltz was a concert by the rock group The Band, held on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1976, at Winterland Ballroom insane Francisco. The Last Waltz was advertised as The Band's "farewell concert appearance", and the concert saw The Band joined by more than a dozen special guests, including Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Ringo Starr, Dr. John, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Muddy Waters,  Ronnie Wood, Neil Diamond, The Staple Singers and Eric Clapton.  The musical director for the concert was The Band's original record producer, John Simon.

The event was filmed by director Martin Scorcese and made into a documentary of the same name, released in 1978. The film features concert performances, scenes shot on a studio soundstage and interviews by Scorsese with members of The Band.

Running Time: 117 minutes


MAY 29

This is Spinal Tap

This Is Spinal Tap is an American 1984 rock music mockumentary written, scored by, and starringRob Reiner, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer. The film portrays the fictional British heavy metal band Spinal Tap. Directed by Reiner, the movie satirizes the wild personal behavior and musical pretensions of hard rock and heavy metal bands, as well as the hagiographic tendencies of rock documentaries of the time. Reiner and the three main actors are credited as the writers of the movie because much of the dialogue was ad libbed by them.

The three main members of Spinal Tap are played by actors McKean, Shearer, and Guest, respectively. The three actors play their musical instruments and speak with mock English accents throughout the movie. Reiner appears as Marty Di Bergi, the maker of the documentary. Actors Paul Shaffer, Fred Willard, Fran Drescher, Howard Hesseman, Ed Begley, Jr., Anjelica Huston, Dana Carvey, Billy Crystal all play supporting roles or make cameo appearances in the movie.

In 2002, This Is Spinal Tap was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation by the United States National Film Registry.

Running Time: 82 minutes



SUNDAY, MAY 4 -- 2:00 PM -- Auditorium (3rd Floor)


Join us for a rock concert with School of Rock Seekonk and hear some of the classics mentioned in the Hail, Hail Rock & Roll documentaries as well as some selections from the fundamental roots of rock and roll through classic rock, funk, reggae, heavy metal, alternative, indie and prog rock – SOR shares, engages and celebrates it all.

For more than a decade, School of Rock has been inspiring kids to rock on stage and in life. Founded as a single school in Philadelphia, PA in 1998, School of Rock has become a growing international franchise, operating 69 schools in the US and Mexico.

Believing that the best way to learn music is to play music, SOR take students from the lesson room to the stage, developing both their confidence and musicianship with programs designed for all skill levels.

School of Rock teaches guitar, bass, vocals, keyboards, drums and combines weekly private music lessons and group band rehearsals to prepare students to take the stage in front of live audiences in an authentic concert setting.  




MONDAY, MAY 12 -- 6:30 - 8 PM -- Meeting Room (3rd Floor)

MEET CRAIG HARRIS, Author of The Band: Pioneers of Americana Music by Craig Harris

The Band: Pioneers of Americana Music chronicles the successes and struggles of the five-piece group that countered Rock’s rebellion, inspired scores of artists including The Beatles, Eric Clapton, and the Grateful Dead, and paved the foundation for today’s Americana groups, including the Alabama Shakes, Old Crow Medicine Show, and the Civil Wars. A decade and a half after they last played a note together, The Band remains an important influence on popular music, and Harris’ biography tells their story like never before.

The Band: Pioneers of Americana Musicexplores the diverse influences on the quintet's music, and the impact that their music had in turn on contemporary music and American society. Through previously unpublished interviews with Robbie Robertson, Eric Andersen, Pete Seeger, and the late Rick Danko, as well as numerous other sources, Craig Harris surveys The Band's musical journey from sidemen for, among others, Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan to rock legendry in their own right. The Band: Pioneers of Americana Music touches on the evolution of rock and roll, the electrifying of folk music, shifting perceptions of the American south, and the commercializing of the counter-culture.“This book sets the record straight about The Band,” said the author, “who they were and how they changed modern society.”

Included among the sixteen photographs, by Harris, in the book, are previously unpublished photographs of Band members Garth Hudson, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, and Richard Manuel.

What people are saying aboutThe Band: Pioneers of Americana Music

“Author Craig Harris has an obvious passion for Americana music in general, and for The Band in particular. This detailed account of one of our most iconic musical entities, and the scene that surrounded them, should be on the shelf of every fan of American roots music”

(Happy Traum, guitarist, performer, owner of Homespun Music Instruction, Woodstock, NY)

“Craig Harris paints his masterpiece, guiding us through five decades of music history as seen by The Band. Drawing on interviews with Band members and their colleagues, Harris takes us with them to see how the Band and the music scene shaped each other from the 1960s to the 21st Century”

(Art Menius, Executive Director, the Arts Center, Carrboro, NC)


Parking is available at the Providence Hilton Parking Garage: $3/3 hours. Bring ticket for stamping at the Library.