A musical cross-country journey in the wake of the September 11th attacks of 2001 is at the heart of a new, award-winning film called American Folk. Starring Joe Purdy and Amber Rubarth as two folk-playing musicians who meet after their plane is grounded in California, the film was shot in 14 states covering a 3,500-mile trip that the pair undertake in a 1972 Chevy van.
With the healing power of music at its heart, American Folk features a soundtrack that blends original tunes written by the lead actors with traditional folk songs and contributions from John Prine, Jerry Garcia and David Grisman. Underscoring one of the film’s main themes – that sharing an experience with another person is preferable to enduring it alone – is the deeply affecting “Someone Singing With Me.” Penned and sung by Purdy, and featuring Rubarth’s plaintive mountain harmony, the sweet tune features simple guitar accompaniment and beautifully recalls several of the duets that John Prine has sung so effectively with frequent partner Iris DeMent, yet it offers the added bonus of discovering two wondrous new voices steeped in the folk tradition. Listen to the premiere of “Someone Singing With Me” above.
Coinciding with the film, Purdy and Rubarth have scheduled a series of performances early next year, with stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Washington, D.C., among others.
American Folk was written and directed by David Heinz, who cast Purdy and Rubarth after seeing a YouTube clip of them performing together at a New York benefit. Both non-professional actors, they were cast by the director because, Rubarth says, “the authenticity of the music is at the heart of the film.” Also featured in the cast are Krisha Fairchild (star of the acclaimed 2015 drama Krisha) and David Fine (The Pursuit of Happyness). The film’s soundtrack will be released January 26th via Thirty Tigers and is available for pre-order beginning Friday, November 17th.
American Folk track listing:
1. “This Old Guitar” (performed/written by Joe Purdy)
2. “Some Humans Ain’t Human” (performed/written by John Prine)
3. Joni, Elliot (Dialogue)
4. “Red River Valley” (performed by Joe Purdy & Amber Rubarth, traditional)
5. “Black Jack Davey” (performed by Joe Purdy & Amber Rubarth, written by A.P. Carter)
6. “Pretty Saro” (Instrumental) (performed by Joe Purdy, traditional)
7. “Someone Singing With Me” (performed by Joe Purdy & Amber Rubarth, written by Joe Purdy)
8. “Oh! Susanna” (Instrumental) (performed by Joe Purdy, written by Stephen Collins Foster)
9. “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” (performed by Amber Rubarth, written by Wallace Willis)
10. “Freight Train” (performed by Jerry Garcia & David Grisman, written by Elizabeth Cotten)
11. Play (Dialogue)
12. “New York” (performed/written by Amber Rubarth)
13. “Hello Stranger” (performed by Amber Rubarth & Joe Purdy, written by A.P. Carter)
14. “Moonlight” (performed by Joe Purdy & Amber Rubarth, written by Blaze Foley)
15. “Oh Shenandoah” (performed by Joe Purdy & Amber Rubarth, traditional)
16. “Lonesome Valley” (Joe Purdy & Amber Rubarth)
17. Of Course (Dialogue)
18. “This Old Guitar” (full version) (performed by Joe Purdy & Amber Rubarth, written by Joe Purdy)
19. “Townes” (performed by Amber Rubarth & Joe Purdy, written by Amber Rubarth)