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Making The Film

The Music District

Film by Susan Levitas
Produced by Susan Levitas
Cinematographer: Thom Wolf
Sound: John Tyler, John Paulson
Editing: Susan Levitas, Barbara Burst, Neil Mean
Copyright: 1996, Susan Levitas
56 minutes, Color
Original format: Betacam SP, 1996
Distributor: California Newsreel
More Film Facts
Streaming only. For other permissions apply to Susan Levitas or to the distributor, California Newsreel.


Preview one minute trailer - Comment on film


The Music District is a musical documentary profiling four distinct African American traditions flourishing in neighborhood churches and nightclubs just blocks from the monuments and government offices of Washington, D.C. The film was shot in the early to mid-1990s, during a time when news stories in the popular media portrayed Washington's African American community as a bastion of drug dealers, murderers and social depravity. The Music District shows another side of life in the nation's capital, a place of families, neighborhoods bound together by diverse music traditions. The film features: the Orioles, a third-generation rhythm & blues vocal harmony group, keeping alive a local sound and a national reputation; Junk Yard Band, the premiere young go-go group, playing a club-based, urban music created in Washington in the 1960s, combining call-and-response lyrics and polyrhythmic percussion with funk, jazz, rhythm & blues and popular music; The Four Echoes, D.C.'s last active jubilee quartet, a fast-paced, syncopated form of early gospel quartet singing; and Kings of Harmony, a gospel brass shout band from The United House of Prayer.

The Music District is a warm, respectful and vibrant film that illuminates a side and a sound of Washington that too few people know.
--- Richard Harrington, The Washington Post

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