New Ken Burns’ Film

to Screen in Keene Aug. 14

The city of Keene will roll out the red carpet next week and show local filmmakers a little country hospitality.

Ken Burns Country Music Day, hosted by New Hampshire PBS (celebrating its 60th anniversary this year), is happening downtown Wednesday, Aug. 14.

The main event is a preview screening of the documentary, “Country Music,” at the Colonial Theatre at 7:30 p.m. that evening. A discussion with filmmakers Ken Burns (director), Dayton Duncan and Julie Dunfey (producers) will follow the screening.

Duncan, Burns and Dunfey, of Florentine Films in Walpole, are Emmy-award winning creators of acclaimed PBS documentaries, including “The Civil War,” “Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery” and “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.”

The team spent eight years researching and producing the film, conducting interviews with more than 100 people, including 40 members of the Country Music Hall of Fame (17 of those interviewed have since passed on). Among those storytellers are historian Bill Malone and a wide range of country artists such as Rosanne Cash, Vince Gill, Reba McEntire, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam, Emmylou Harris, Naomi and Wynonna Judd and Kris Kristofferson, as well as studio musicians, record producers and others.

The multi-episode series will focus on biographies of such artists as the Carter family, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard and Garth Brooks. The film chronicles the history of the uniquely American art form, from southern Appalachia to Texas, California honky-tonks to Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. It traces origins in ballads, hymns, blues and minstrel music and its evolution into such genres as rock and roll.

The film uses more than two hours of archival footage, including more than 3,200 photos — many rare and never-before-seen. Out of those photos, 29 images taken by 15 photographers will be in a show opening at noon on Aug 14. at Keene State College’s Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery.

Some of these photos were taken by photographers with long histories working in Nashville and at the Grand Ole Opry. Photographers were asked to choose their two favorite photos for inclusion in the show. Each wrote a biography and a family member/representative contributed information for the photos in the show taken by photographers now deceased.

The show runs through December at the gallery. Fifteen of the photographs were donated for online auction through early November by NHPBS, with the gallery being one of the recipients along with NHPBS and The Fall Mountain Educational Endowment Association for music programs in the Fall Mountain School Sistrict.

Prior to the film screening at The Colonial, there will be a panel discussion with the Florentine Films “Country Music” crew from 4 to 5 p.m. Post-production supervisor Dan White will moderate.

“Not many people get to hear behind-the-scenes details of how a film gets made,” said White. “People want to know where the music or images in the film come from, or how we decide what footage is used.”

Other related activities scheduled throughout the day include:

• A make-your-own guitar out of recycled materials workshop and play your own country tunes at the Cheshire Children’s Museum, 149 Emerald St., Keene, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for ages 60 and over and $7 for 1 year and up.

• Monadnock Food Co-op, 34 Cypress St., Keene, will serve a barbecue lunch from noon to 2 p.m. Menu (subject to change) includes entree choice of Smokey Mountain pulled pork sandwich, Honky Tonk chicken drumsticks, Sweet Home Alabama bean burger and choice of two sides (local corn on the cob, Bayou Baked Beans, and Country Road Cole Slaw.) and corn bread. Cost is $10 plus tax.

• MoCo Arts, 40 Roxbury St., Keene, will host a country music performance by the students from MoCo’s 2019 summer arts camp at 3 p.m. 

“This is a day for the community to celebrate this film and everyone’s hard work who made it,” said Pam Baucom, co-producer.

Tickets to the “Country Music” screening at the Colonial Theatre are $20 and $60 for VIP tickets, which include preferred seating at the screening and a meet-and-greet and catered reception before the screening with Ken Burns. Tickets are available online at or by calling the box office, open noon to 9 p.m., at 352-2033.