I finally wedged my way into the 54-seat theater 3 of the West End Cinema in the District to see Dave Grohl’s film directorial debut, the documentary “Sound City.” It is as good as its reviews.
If you haven’t already heard, the former Thomas Jefferson-Bishop Ireton-Annandale high schools non-grad has created an homage to a grimy recording studio in Van Nuys, Calif., where huge albums such as Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush,” Tom Petty’s “Damn the Torpedoes,” Fear’s “The Record” and Nirvana’s “Nevermind” were recorded. When the studio closed in 2011, Grohl bought its legendary Neve analog soundboard and installed it in his home studio, though by then the Foo Fighters’s “Wasting Light” album (five Grammys!) had already been recorded. Here’s an amazing list of the albums recorded at Sound City.
Grohl interviews not only many of the great musicians who recorded at Sound City but also the people who worked there and even Rupert Neve, who devised the soundboard. There’s a lot about Rick Springfield, who was discovered there and where “Jessie’s Girl” was plucked from a pile of demos. So it’s not about war or poverty or a bad breakup, but it has gotten great reviews, and Grohl has been aggressively promoting it with screenings and concerts involving musicians from the movie, including Stevie Nicks, John Fogerty and Trent Reznor. Go see it before it leaves town.
All this makes it a legitimate contender for a Best Documentary Oscar next year. And that means Grohl could join the list of Northern Virginia luminaries who have won Academy Awards. My own research has this list at
three four. Can you add any others?
Warren Beatty (actor-director-producer, Arlington): Best Director, ”Reds”
Shirley MacLaine (actress, Arlington): Best Actress, “Terms of Endearment”
Sandra Bullock (actress, Arlington): Best Actress, “The Blind Side”
(Note: All three of these winners attended Washington-Lee High School. The cradle of Oscar winners.)
Bruce Cohen (producer, Falls Church): Best Picture, “American Beauty” (J.E.B. Stuart High) (H/T: James Wilkins)
Here’s the “Sound City” trailer: