So you’ve never heard of the band Magic Music. Unless you’re from Boulder, Colo., and my age or older, that’s understandable. I couldn’t even find them on Wikipedia.
In the late ’60s and early ’70s, they became legendary to the locals and there were several times when the band almost broke out nationally, but it wasn’t in the cards.
Thanks to famed television writer-director Lee Aronsohn (“Two and a Half Men” “The Big Bang Theory”), a former University of Colorado student and fan of the group, their incredible story can now be told in the movie “40 Years in the Making: The Magic Music Movie.”
Everyone has a favorite local band from their youth but not everyone gets the chance to make a movie about them. In 1975, Lee Aronsohn left Colorado for Los Angeles unaware the band he spent many days listening to on the U of C campus in Boulder would break up a year later and then disappear forever.
All those great songs he remembered from his youth had vanished without a trace. After a successful Hollywood career writing sitcoms, Aronsohn retired at the age of 65 and what began as a quest to hear his favorite songs by Magic Music became his first feature film documentary.
Prepare to have your mind blown. To put it into perspective, imagine watching a documentary about Led Zeppelin and discovering their music at the very same time. Once you become acquainted with the harmonious vocals and infectious hooks delivered by the Colorado folk group, the sounds of Crosby, Stills and Nash and Jethro Tull come to mind.
Magic Music had the potential to go all the way, so it’s such a tragedy that these guys never became a household name. Thanks to Aronsohn, the rest of the world can get a taste of the sounds that drove the filmmaker to bring the band’s story to prominence 42 years after they called it quits.
There are fans, superfans and then there’s Lee Aronsohn. That’s the best way to describe the writer-director’s obsession with the group. His kids grew up knowing the band’s songs without the existence of any vinyl, CDs, or Mp3s because Aronsohn would hum the songs to his children.
After tracking down original band member Chris “Spoons” Daniels two years ago, Aronsohn began searching for the rest of the group in a mission to hear those great songs one more time.
Throughout the last few decades, there have been some really good music documentaries from “Gimme Shelter” to “The Kids Are Alright,” but recently, filmmakers have begun exposing us to lesser-known artists like the mysterious Detroit singer-songwriter Rodriguez in the 2012 film “Searching for Sugar Man.”
Now, Aronsohn’s film can rest comfortably among all those other wonderful docs from filmmakers that include Martin Scorsese and Jonathan Demme.
“40 Years in the Making: The Magic Music Movie” is a compelling look at one of the greatest bands that remained undiscovered. Archival footage and photographs get us up to speed with the band’s history while new interviews with band members explain what these guys have been doing for the last four decades.
Watching these former hippies reconnect and play together after 42 years will bring a smile to your face.
This may be your introduction to the band but I guarantee that 90 minutes later, you’ll be singing along like you’ve known these songs your whole life.
Joe Friar is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (Los Angeles) and the Houston Film Critics Society. He co-founded the Victoria Film Society and reviews films for Hit Radio 104.7 and the Victoria Advocate.