Robbie Robertson reflects on The Band highlights as ‘Once Were Brothers’ doc gets wide theatrical release

Photo: © Elliott Landy 1969/Magnolia Pictures
Photo: © Elliott Landy 1969/Magnolia Pictures

After opening in select theaters last Friday, the new documentary Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band gets a wide release today.

The film is based on Robbie Robertson‘s 2016 memoir Testimony, and focuses heavily on new interviews with The Band‘s founding guitarist and main songwriter, who shares recollections about memorable events and incidents in the influential Americana group’s storied history.

Among them is the infamous 1965 tour that The Band’s members did as Bob Dylan‘s backing group, during which many fans of the legendary singer/songwriter’s acoustic music regularly booed him for “going electric.”

“All we did was play faster and louder,” Robertson recalls to ABC Audio. “And it was kind of a challenge in a way of saying, boldly, ‘You’re wrong, the world is wrong and we’re right.'”

The film also delves into the unique-sounding music The Band created for its debut album, recorded in a pink house near Woodstock, New York.

“We had been woodshedding. We had been honing our craft. We had been gathering musics — gospel music, blues, rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm & blues, classical music, jazz — putting it all into our big gumbo of music,” Robertson explains to ABC Audio. “And when we came to make [the] Music from Big Pink [album], all of that stuff started to be part of the blend. It started to taste that way.”

He adds, “We just followed our instincts and tried to be in tune with the honesty of that music. And that’s just what came out.”

As previously reported, Once Were Brothers also features interviews with Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Peter Gabriel and Taj Mahal, plus archival conversations with Dylan, George Harrison, The Band’s late singer/drummer Levon Helm and others.

Visit to find out where it’s playing near you.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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