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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Review: I Lay Where I Fall

Posted By on Wed, Oct 22, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Juston Stens spent five years as the drummer for successful indie roots-rockers Dr. Dog before deciding that his limited creative role in the band was making him miserable. So the self-taught multi-instrumentalist quit Dr. Dog and drove across the country on a 1972 Triumph motorcycle to meet up with musician friends he’d met over the course of his career. The idea was to collaborate on new songs and release the results as album. As seen in I Lay Where I Fall, director Andrew Michael Stubbs’ documentary of Stens’ journey, this is a pretty good plan for an artist seeking his creative voice — and an even better one for exploring what it means to collaborate with others on original music.

Stens works with members of Wilco and Spoon among other, often less renowned bands. He finds his way to New Orleans to collaborate with members of Generationals and Giant Cloud, and stops in at Lafayette for a uniquely unproductive visit with Brass Bed. The results vary in both style and quality and the process can be messy and frustrating. At minimum, each encounter reveals small truths about band dynamics and the mysteries of creative alchemy. Stens’ struggles get a little repetitive toward the end of the film, and sometimes it seems Stubbs’ camera may be interfering with his subjects' quest to create music in an organic way. But who said art was easy?

I Lay Where I Fall screens Thursday, Oct. 23 at 9:45 p.m. at The Theatres at Canal Place as part of the 2014 New Orleans Film Festival. Tickets are available here.

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