A 2003 mockumentary directed by Christopher Guest and written by Guest and Eugene Levy. The movie brings together the cast of fabulous character actors we came to know and love from other Guest movies in this genre - including This is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, and Best in Show - and sets them loose around the theme of folk music.
The story begins soon after the death of Irving Steinbloom, the manager and promoter of several influential sixties folk acts. His son Jonathon (Bob Balaban) decides to put together a tribute concert featuring several of those acts. The movie chronicles the mad rush to set up the concert, the event itself, and a chat with some of the principals six months later.
The first band that appears on stage is The New Main Street Singers, a phoenix risen from the ashes of The Main Street Singers, a "neuftet" of (nine) talented musicians which broke up in 1971. The new neuftet consist of a squeaky clean crew in colour coordinated sweater vests, led by Terry and Laurie Bohner (John Michael Higgins and Jane Lynch), a relentlessly chipper couple who, when not playing at amusement parks around the country, chair the Tampa chapter of WINC (Witches in Nature's Colours). (Parker Posey is sadly wasted in her role as impossibly bouncy band member Sissy Knox.)
Second up are The Folksmen, a troubador trio consisting of bass Mark Shubb (Harry Shearer), tenor Jerry Palter (Michael McKean), and the missing link Alan Barrows (Guest). Their albums, with catchy names like "Singin'", "Pickin'", "Ramblin'", and "Hitchin'", never did that well because the record company didn't put holes into the centres of the LPs, but they did have one big hit, "Old Joe's Place", the memorable chorus of which goes:
There's a puppy in the parlour
And a skillet on the stove
A smelly old blanket
That a Navajo wove.
There's chicken on the table
But you gotta say grace.
There's always something cookin'
At Old Joe's Place.
The final act to grace the stage are Mitch & Mickey (Levy and Catherine O'Hara), once young lovers who exchanged a kiss on TV in the middle of a song ("Kiss at the End of the Rainbow") that rocketed them to stardom. They had a string of hits, but when their love ended acrimoniously, so did the musical collaboration. Mitch was plunged into depression, while Mickey married a catheter salesman, but they agreed to reunite once more to pay tribute to Steinbloom.
Like Guest's other mocumentaries, the dialogue in this film is largely improvised, so it takes true comic geniuses to carry it off, and they do admirably well. The songs mimic their genre so well that the concert itself seems totally believable as a real event, aided by a housefull of extras who sing along to lyrics projected on screens to give the feel of old favourites. (In fact, "Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2003, and Mitch and Mickey appeared together to sing it at the awards ceremony. As with the movie itself, the performance was so convincing that I'm sure many people didn't realize the whole thing was a satire.) All in all, great fun.
The official website, at http://amightywindonline.warnerbros.com/, has lots of clips and photos about the movie, and you can hear the hokey songs for yourself!