Ramblin' Rhodes: Kopple's films capture intriguing tales of Dixie Chicks, Jones

Director Barbara Kopple (third from left) arrives with The Dixie Chicks - Emily Robison (from left), Natalie Maines and Martie Maguire - for the 2006 premiere of their documentary Shut Up & Sing in New York.

Two-time Academy Award-winning director Barbara Kopple has made a career taking on intriguing subjects such as her film Miss Sharon Jones! about the Augusta native and her battle with cancer. But even Kopple probably was not prepared for the enormous amount of media attention given to her documentary Shut Up & Sing.


That film centers on the resulting firestorm after The Dixie Chicks’ singer and Texas native Natalie Maines criticized U.S. President and former Texas governor George W. Bush during a concert in London.

On Friday, Sept. 30, Kopple and world-superstar singer Jones will be at the Imperial Theatre for the 8 p.m. Westobou Festival presentation of Miss Sharon Jones! They will be taking questions from the audience after the film. All tickets are $20 and general admission seats. Buy either online at westobou.com or at the Westobou Gallery, 1129 Broad St.

Miss Sharon Jones! has been praised in the nation’s leading newspapers, magazines and film websites since its debut a year ago at the Toronto (Canada) International Film Festival.

New York City-born Kopple co-produced the film with David Cassidy (not the famous singer) for Cabin Creek Films. She won the Academy Award for Best Documentary, Features, in 1977 for Harlan County, USA about a violent Kentucky miners’ strike and in 1991 for American Dream, about a violent food company strike in Minnesota.

With Cecilia Peck, the daughter of actor Gregory Peck, she co-produced the 2006 movie Shut Up & Sing, which came about after lead singer Maines’ off-the-cuff remarks about President Bush. The country music website theboot.com summarized the incident in reporting:

“The Texas-based trio, which also includes sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire, were performing at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire theater in London, England, as the kickoff to their international Top of the World Tour, in support of 2002’s multi-platinum selling album, Home.

“News was buzzing all over the globe about the United States’ impending invasion of Iraq, under the leadership of then-President George W. Bush.

“As Maines was introducing the Dixie Chicks’ latest single, Travelin’ Soldier, she said, ‘Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.’

Most country music stations in America stopped playing the Chicks’ records and their concert ticket sales plummeted.

Kopple in late 2006 was quoted by interviewer Brian Brooks for the website indiewire.com as saying of her film, “I was, of course, extremely interested in their story, but I didn’t want it to be solely about the comment and its immediate aftermath.

“I wanted to see how this experience changed them as humans and musicians. So, we filmed them recording their new album and everything else that occurred so that the film will give a full picture from 2003 through 2006.

“As the project evolved – in the field and in the edit room – I think we all came to see this experience of the Dixie Chicks as a lens through which to see the current political climate in America.

“We’re living in a time when the freedoms we take for granted – the freedom of speech, the freedom to protest and dissent – are truly in danger. I think the story of the Dixie Chicks really encapsulates the risks we face – and at the same time shows that when you stand up for your rights, people will be there to support you and follow your lead.”

Anyway, it’s not every day in Augusta you get to ask questions of a two-time Oscar-winning director and of a worldwide, Grammy-nominated rhythm and blues superstar.

But you will have that chance after the showing of Miss Sharon Jones! at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, at the Imperial Theatre. Don’t miss the opportunity.



American Tribute to Country Legends: Jeff Barnes will sing the hits of country greats in this benefit for the agriculture program at Jefferson County High School; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23, Jesse C. Lynch Memorial American Legion Post 71, 333 East Spring Grove Ave., North Augusta; $10. Call (706) 394-3916 to reserve tickets or buy at the door.

The Drifters: The Rock & Roll Hall of Famers will perform at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3, for the Waynesboro-Burke County Concert Series, Burke County High School Auditorium in Waynesboro, $20 adults, $5 students; call (706) 437-0070 or online at iTickets.com and burkeconcert.org.

Yonder Mountain String Band: 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, at Sky City; doors open at 6 p.m.; the Colorado-based band is headlining the Riverwalk Revival Series with Oregon-based quintet Fruition opening. Show benefits The Savannah Riverkeeper. Tickets are $30 advance, $35 at the door; fwbpro.com.

Country music star Jake Owen: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, at Imperial Theatre for a concert to benefit the TGen Foundation for cancer research and fighting infectious diseases; and to honor Laurie Parkhurst (read her story at lauriesfund.org); tickets start at $50 at the Imperial box office and imperialtheatre.com.

'Miss Sharon Jones!' to be shown at Imperial during Westobou