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Reel to Reel: Thank You, Friends: Big Star’s Third Live…And More

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Big Star’s devastatingly beautiful Third album has long been revered by artists and critics as one of the most influential records ever produced. Written and recorded when the legendary ’70s band was primarily a studio project consisting of guitarist Alex Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens, Third (or Sister Lovers, as it was alternatively known) had never been performed in public with the original string and wind arrangements.

That changed in 2010, following Chilton’s untimely death just two days ahead of a much-anticipated Big Star performance at the South by Southwest Music Festival. That December, famous friends and fans assembled from far and wide to play a fully orchestrated Chapel Hill, N.C., gig in Chilton’s honor.

From there, the core players (including sole surviving Big Star member Jody Stephens, Mike Mills [R.E.M.], Mitch Easter [Let’s Active], Chris Stamey [the dB’s], plus the Posies’ Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer) took the show on the road internationally, enlisting guest stars and orchestras in each city, and performing not only songs from Third, but also material from Big Star’s first two albums, #1 Record and Radio City. That core ensemble, along with a star-studded cast of guest artists, assembled in April 2016 at Glendale, California’s Alex Theatre for the epic concert seen in Thank You, Friends. Directed by Benno Nelson of Yes Equals Yes, the film includes performances by a who’s who of indie rock, including Jeff Tweedy and Pat Sansone of Wilco, Ira Kaplan (Yo La Tengo), Robyn Hitchcock, Dan Wilson (Semisonic), Benmont Tench, Jessica Pratt, Brett Harris, Django Haskins, and Skylar Gudasz as well as a full chamber orchestra helmed by San Francisco’s acclaimed Kronos Quartet and conducted by Carl Marsh, who wrote the original orchestrations for Third/Sister Lovers. The GRAMMY Museum is pleased to present an intimate screening of Thank You, Friends: Big Star’s Third Live … And More followed by a discussion with the director of the film, Benno Nelson, singer/songwriter Skylar Gudasz, and singer/songwriter/producers Chris Stamey and Dan Wilson.  The evening will be hosted by GRAMMY Foundation Vice President Scott Goldman.