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Exclusive Video Premiere: A Short Film About Frank Fairfield

Exclusive Video Premiere: A Short Film About Frank Fairfield (photo)

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The 25-year-old California musician Frank Fairfield has toured in support of Fleet Foxes and Cass McCombs, two bands at or near indie rock’s recent crossover metastasis. But Fairfield doesn’t approach the twisting folk-pop of Fleet Foxes or the elliptical escapades of Cass McCombs. Rather, Fairfield plays banjo, guitar, fiddle and, quite often, the floor with his feet as he stomps out the rhythm of American songs that sometimes date beyond the century mark. Fairfield is an old-time musician, a passionate and untiring searcher and syndicate of song. He finds his tunes on old 78s or from fellow travelers in the antediluvian world of oral tradition, and he reenergizes them with an enthusiasm and an earnestness that’s very much about how these songs fit right now.

Or, as he puts it in the new short but strong documentary Frank Fairfield, “You know, this is popular music, and these are popular songs. I don’t think they’re old songs. They’re here. They’re now songs. … All there is here and now.”

The 12-minute film follows Fairfield through a series of performances–street corners and flea markets, in a lonely brick hallway and on a sylvan stage at Pickathon, the Oregon music festival that appropriately began as a banjo and old-time convocation. Greg Vandy, a Seattle DJ for the influential public station KEXP, began pondering the film after Fairfield appeared on his show, The Roadhouse–“any ‘boomer’ definition of roots-rock turns classic-rock,” he says. What’s more, it fit into the work Vandy was considering for his website, American Standard Time, an archive of interviews and videos featuring some of the promising talent he brings to his shows.

“We had an in-studio session in 2009,” remembers Vandy. “He’s such a compelling character. There’s as much to see and to be introduced to beside the audio with Frank–his personality, his persona, his intellect, his whole way of thinking is equal parts to the music he makes, which is also incredible.”

Fairfield recently released his second album for Tompkins Square Records, a New York label that’s become a supreme outlet for acoustic sounds old, new and–as in Fairfield’s case–a little of both. Indeed, Out on the Open West finds Fairfield recanting own his early indications that he didn’t consider himself much of a songwriter. Most of these songs are actually his, though he explores his own words with the same use of old forms and modern vitality he offered on his perfect 2009 debut. It’s a steady and smart expansion of his catalogue, an indication of an artist that’s going to develop far beyond the conduit appeal of his debut.

“It’s a guy who understands what traditional music is all about. He knows all the songs, and he knows all about the interpretation of those songs. It’s like what I imagine a performer from the Anthology of American Folk Music would sound like,” says Vandy. “But I want to avoid the whole time-traveling thing. Frank doesn’t think that way. I’m not sure he even appreciates that aspect of time.”

Frank Fairfield has recently been accepted into several film festivals, including South by Southwest 2011 and the 2011 L.A. Film + Music Weekend. It will stream exclusively at IFC.COM for one week.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Uncle-Buck

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…