RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World

RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World

Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana | 
Canada |
 2017 | 
97 minutes

WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY SPECIAL JURY AWARD FOR MASTERFUL STORYTELLING, SUNDANCE 2017

From the opening guitar thunder of Link Wray’s smash hit, you know you are in for a wild ride. “Rumble had the power to make me say, f*k it, I’m gonna be a musician,” laughs Iggy Pop. Directors Catherine Bainbridge (Reel Injun) and Alfonso Maiorana have assembled a veritable who’s who in the music business, from Tony Bennett to Steven Tyler, to attest to the power and influence of First Nations people on American music traditions — Rock, Blues, and Funk. The most exciting folk in RUMBLE are those you’ve likely never heard of before, including 1920s Delta bluesman Charley Patton, “Queen of Swing” Mildred Bailey, and guitarist Jesse Ed Davis. The stories spill forth, each one deserving of its own separate film. In this embarrassment of riches, both narrative and musical, one thing becomes clear, the time for recognition of these phenomenal artists is long overdue. -DW

The title comes from Rumble, the smash hit 1958 instrumental single by Link Wray (born in New Carolina to Shawnee parents) driven by innovative power chord riffs that would later influence Iggy Pop, Pete Townshend, and hosts of other rock, pop, and heavy-metal masters. Taj Mahal, one of the film’s several on-camera interviewees, recalls that the song actually made him “levitate out of bed about four feet” the first time he heard it on the radio. Indeed, Rumble was banned from the airwaves in many U.S. markets because, as Stevie Van Zandt gleefully notes, the scary swagger it conveyed made it sound like “a theme song for juvenile delinquency.” -VARIETY