This fascinating documentary directed by Andrew Slater and hosted by Jakob Dylan provides an overview of a magic moment in music history when singers, songwriters, and musicians made the transition from folk to rock. This took place from 1964 through 1968 in Laurel Canyon in the Hollywood Hills; the music became known as the "California Sound."
A remarkable creative community lived in Laurel Canyon, stopped by each other's homes to make music together, and shared musical innovations. One of them calls what happened "cross-pollination." David Crosby of The Byrds identifies what was different about the music coming out of Laurel Canyon: As folk musicians embraced the rock, they managed to get real poetry on the radio. "Mr. Tambourine Man" by the Byrds is one example
In the documentary, we hear from members of those bands: Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, The Beach Boys, and the Mamas and the Papas, including David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Roger McGuinn, Graham Nash, Brian Wilson, and Michelle Phillips.
They reminiscence about staying up all night jamming, or the time when the Beatles showed up at the door. They pay tribute to each other's work, singling out The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds as being a turning point. Other musicians, including Laurel Canyon resident Jackson Browne and British rockers Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr, add more perspective on a remarkable place and time.
These interviews are mixed with scenes of contemporary musicians, led by Jakob Dylan, preparing for and performing in a 2015 tribute concert to the Laurel Canyon sound. Especially fine covers are offered by Regina Spektor and Nora Jones.
Echo in the Canyon is dedicated to Tom Petty who died in 2017 and made his last appearance in this film.