Austin To Boston In Review: 15 Things We Learned From The Film

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Austin To Boston is Marcus Haney’s newest film, produced by Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons and Ty Johnson. Recently released on Netflix on June 12th, 2015, this film is the perfect harmony of music, travel, storytelling & just a damn good time. Critics seem to agree as the film has swept up a number of awards at various film festivals across the country.

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Gill Landry, singer, storyteller, and former member of Old Crow Medicine Show, served as the narrator and head Volkswagen van expert. This made him an extremely valuable member across this 3,000 mile tour from Austin to Boston with 5 Volkswagen vans, 2 weeks and 4 bands, Ben Howard, The Staves, Nathaniel Rateliff, and Bear’s Den.

There was a unique film and digital divide among the documentary style bringing in both worlds of new and old. It was great metaphorically as the film itself carried a vintage aspect with the VW vans and tour way of life, but at the same time was new and youthful with beautiful talent.

This cross-country tour was planned as a Communion Tour which is a “flourishing community of musicians and fans, providing a first independent platform for the best young artists on London’s circuit” via the Communion Music Group Facebook page, founded by Ben Lovett (Mumford & Sons), Kev Jones (Bear’s Den), and producer Ian Grimble.

let’s take a look at a few things we learned from the film…

1. Young director, Marcus Haney is no one hit wonder. He made another film and it’s awesome. Check out his first film No Cameras Allowed. Seriously. Go watch it.

2. Gill Landry shared his godly voice as the narrator of this film. Disney will be calling soon for their next wild life documentary.

Gill Landry
God’s voice lives here.

3. Bear’s Den embarked on their first tour as a band and were welcomed to the tour life madness with the coolest people around.

Photo by Kelly Teacher

4. The Brits love shooting guns and making fun of America’s obsession with them.

5. Whataburger won’t give you your food in the drive-thru if you and your 24 friends pretend to be the car.

6. The Staves can harmonize the crap out of a Dixie Chicks song, and any song for that matter. (Not a video from the actual film)

7. Campgrounds and skipping stones are not a thing of the past. The group stays mostly in campgrounds and maybe two-star hotels throughout their journey. Instead of five-star living, the group enjoyed each other’s company which is refreshing to see in this digital age.

8. Ben Howard just learned to play basketball and isn’t very good. Sorry Ben. (Better learn that ‘lingo’)

9. Nathaniel Rateliff is SO underrated. Like seriously, how is he not everywhere. SO.MUCH.TALENT. I like that this film goes into what has made him the artist he is. Great storytelling.

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Ratecliff passing the time with his guitar in his camper van.

10. People working at record stores should be required to identify big musicians like Ben Howard and Ben Lovett when they walk into your store. (This is for you Mr.-the-store-is-closing-in-4-I-mean-3 minutes, dude). SMH.

11. The cinematography throughout this film was delicious. Can we just talk about the backlight cascading over Bear’s Den in the shot where they were singing Stubborn Beast. Gahhhh! So beautiful!

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I mean come on. That’s beautiful.

12. The Staves are U.S. geographically challenged, and that’s okay. This scene was adorable, “If Texas is here, where’s Tennessee then?” It’s okay girls, you’ll get to know your way around our confusing lands soon enough.

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13. Ben Lovett loves Superman and we got to witness him squeal like a 14 year-old boy at the Superman Museum in Metropolis, IL.


14. No Marcus Haney film is complete without fireworks.

fireworks- Austin To Boston

15. The bands and the makers of this film all just seem like really delightful humans and the fact that they can share their artistic talents together so well is definitely something to be envious of. I love their world and can’t help but wish to be even a fly on the wall of one of the VW vans.

If you haven’t already, be sure to catch Austin To Boston now on Netflix or stream on Amazon.

Austin To Boston group

You can watch the Austin To Boston movie trailer, rent it, or buy it here.

Amazon Preview- Austin to Boston

Check out Haney’s next film, Breaking The Triangle.

20 Replies to “Austin To Boston In Review: 15 Things We Learned From The Film”

  1. Liked the film but had a difficult time understanding the lyrics to the songs. The recordings were standard but the young people singing have yet to learn diction and articulation. There were very long moments of shear boredom. When the director ran out of things to film we get people cavorting and horsing around endlessly. There could have been more emphasis on holding the cameras still on the singers while performing instead of tedious cuts to the four VW vans on the highway or sitting in the rain. By half way through, I was very tempted to turn it off as repetition began to wear me down. On a scale of 1-5, I would give it a 2+. It’s appeal will certainly be to people under 25. I could not empathize too much with 25 year old’s angst. The Staves harmonizing was pitch perfect but all their songs seemed to be the same with variations. Monotony set in.

  2. Great film! I just finished the stream on Netflix. A few niggles with your assessments:

    Point 6: That’s a Darrell Scott Song, himself a master singer/songwriter and mover of emotions.

    Point 10: Grimey’s in Nashville has so many famous faces walk in, I’m sure it’s not impossible to overlook these famous faces – but follow the rules, and come back a little earlier and enjoy one of the best record hands in the South. Smokin’ Josh (Mr. Record store dude) is a storehouse of musical knowledge and one serious promoter of all bands and music famous or not…but he has a family and wanted to get home, I’m guessing. Peace.

    1. Thanks for your feedback Don! I’m glad you enjoyed the film, it’s a great one. I was only giving Smokin’ Josh a hard time. I can only imagine the big names that come to visit Grimey’s. I hope to make it there one day. It’s probably a bit different than the shop out in west Texas that I’m used to, ha!

  3. I appreciate your passion for the film, which I assume is primarily based on your love for the bands in the film. However, I can’t share your enthusiasm for it AS a film. You mentioned storytelling but I didn’t see any. Sure there were a few road anecdotes or quick back-stories (yes, you’re lonely and being a singer/songwriter is such a hard job, we get it *yawn*) and it was cute to see bands in campgrounds instead of hotels (where apparently all they ever do is play their songs to each other) but this really could have been a single concert film as it gave an audience no real insight to what indie touring is really like. I have toured in vans and buses many times and the reality is that you get into much crazier, surreal, frustrating and amazing situations than anything shown in this film where nothing really seems to happen. They don’t overcome any real trials/fights/conflicts – and the whole point where they are “breaking down” as people after less than 2 weeks on the road?! Laughable! Try 6 weeks… or 6 months. You have to be a lot tougher than that to be a touring band. They also don’t really have any adventures. I, and other bands I know, have been in hilarious tourist traps, lost in big cities, woken up at a party that I don’t remember going to (and had to figure out what city I was in), taken the band/crew to an amusement park to ride rollercoasters, had a bbq on a beach completely supplied by Ikea on the Swedish national holiday, to name a few. I’ve also met tons of local bands, promoters, bar staff and industry people (all good and bad) in each city – none of whom were shown in this film. In the end, these talented musicians had the potential to be part of an entertaining road film that really showed a window into what the road is like to a layperson… but this was simply not that film, and as a result, is nothing more than the kind of video diary we all keep on tour, which only mildly entertains you to go back and watch if you were there.

      1. I don’t think the “art is subjective” point is actually in play here as the music itself (and whether one is a fan of a particular genre or label) is almost inconsequential to a good road film. Off the top of my head, Dig! and Another State of Mind would be good examples of docs who take the viewer behind the curtain to see and feel what road life can be like for independent bands. The struggles and triumphs, both big and small, are shown in those films in a way that was truly lacking in AtB. You don’t have to be a fan of any of the bands in those docs to be entertained and informed by the films & journeys themselves… and that is the mark of a good tour documentary.

  4. I thought this was a fine movie. It was a bit of a love-letter to touring, which I think is kind of original. I was smiling through most of it.

    For those of you that thought ‘nothing really happened’, you must have missed that part where Rateliff goes back to where his Dad was killed and talks about it.

    But hey, I understand if some of you TV-zombies have to have TMZ-flavored drama for you to actually feel anything. Good lord, we’re doomed.

    1. Austin to Boston was a joy to experience. All the musicians were fine but Ben Howard and The Staves are amazing throughout this movie… Ben was my first station on Pandora, now I’ve got The [Amazing] Staves!

  5. Loved the film,loved all the music. I particularly liked the version of Fleetwood Mac’s Songbird but couldn’t work out if the lead singer is a member of The Staves or not. Help?

    1. Yes! Great song! The woman singing is India Bourne. She’s not a member of The Staves but is a member of Ben Howard’s band. She plays cello and sings in his band, but also has a solo career.

      1. Many thanks, she is definitely on my radar. I think there is not better than discovering new artists (and new sites likes yours). Every day is a school day.

  6. I loved it so much that I even made to a dvd so I can carry it around and watch it everywhere. And not to brag but I made some pretttty cool dvd covers for it.

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