The Winding Stream - The Carters, The Cashes and the Course of Country Music

online picThe Winding Stream DVD, soundtrack CD and book are now available here at our webstore

You can also find these products on Amazon, iTunes and many other digital platforms.
The film has been getting great reviews from both critics and folks like you!

Here’s what critics have been saying:

NYT Critics’ Pick: “ Thoughtfully assembled to showcase the music and the temperaments behind it, this jam-packed oral history of the Carter and Cash families weaves the voices of prominent musicians … with those of family members past and present. Leading us from Poor Valley, Va. …through decades of personal and professional landmarks, Ms. Harrington sweeps divorce, disappointment and the Great Depression into a single, upbeat package.

Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times

“…illuminating…moving…There is no need to be a country music buff to enjoy this charming slice of Americana…”

David Lewis, San Francisco Chronicle

“…a gift to anyone interested in our musical roots…”

Michael Mechanic, Mother Jones

“Wonderful interviews, transcendent music, a heartfelt emotional story, The Winding Stream is among the greatest of all music documentaries, an instant American classic.”

Gerald Peary, The Arts Fuse

“…a real crowd-pleaser about American roots music royalty…”

Loren King, The Boston Globe

“…soul-satisfying….energetic, joyous…Harrington’s richly textured doc is a treasure of folkloric Americana…”

Kelly Vance, East Bay Express

And here’s what you’ve been saying:

A+ documentary on the Carter Family. The DNA of country music in America. Loved it.


Just watched the doc…I was so moved, I called my cousin who I have not spoken to in years to say we had to get our family together as we all play and sing as well…You have inspired me again to sing and play and I am so happy I found this. THANK YOU!


The Winding Stream brought me to tears more than once! Such an amazing documentary. I’ve always thought Mother Maybelle’s genius is underappreciated and this film made me very happy.


This is ridiculous…I can’t stop watching it. What’s wrong with me?


Victrola 1927

The Winding Stream is starting to open in art houses across the country (see our SCREENINGS page on this site for info) and soon on October 16 the soundtrack will be available on Omnivore Recordings.

Here’s how you can pre-order:

All of this puts me in mind of something the late musician and musicologist Mike Seeger said to me during the making of The Winding Stream. Since 1927, the Carter Family’s music has never been out of print. Their recordings have always been available in some form. That’s 88 years of cultural presence. Admittedly sometimes that presence ebbed from the collective consciousness. But they have always been there. Sorta reassuring in a world that changes so rapidly.

It’s funny to think of how much technology has changed – for better or worse – since then. Here are just some of the ways their music has been shared with the public since the Big Bang of Country Music.

Philco 1936

Magnaox 1947


truetone 1965

8-track player 1970jpg

1980s Sharp Cassette:radio

1999CD Walkman


spotify 2006


Like the relentless snow that keeps on a-comin’, I keep returning to my hometown, Boston. Hopefully a tad more welcomed than the snow. I love my town and I miss it even while I appreciate my life in the Pacific Northwest. But this time there are a couple of specific reasons for the trip back.

First off, there’s a bar mitzvah is in the offing! My nephew Nate’s! I can’t wait to see him complete this rite of passage. He’s just a great guy and I’m really proud to be his aunt. It’s going to be an incredible, emotion-packed day for everyone.

Family means a lot to me and I’m grateful for mine. And as we all know, family comes in a variety of styles. The Harrington family is one style. And yes, as long as we’re here on The Winding Stream page, the Carter Family’s is another. Then there’s the family of friends we choose and nurture. I’m lucky to have that, too.

Once such “family-we-choose” member is Jerry Reilly. Jerry is just an incredible guy. Funny, brilliant, energetic, community-building. His wife Marie Jackson is equally awesome. A filmmaker friend of mine from way back – creative, buoyant, loving, clever with a phrase (she’s Irish, don’t you know). They both love a good project and they’ve instigated many. (Ever hear of the Museum of Bad Art? If not, look it up. If so, you’ve already got the picture.)

Anyway, the other reason I’ll be in Boston is that Jerry very graciously reached out when he heard The Winding Stream needed a last boost of cash for completion. To that end, their theater group, Newton Nomadic Theater (yes, another of their projects) is hosting a benefit for the film at NewTV at 23 Needham St., Newton, MA on March 30.

There will be live music from Crowes Pasture and Deborah Silverstein. And a giveaway or two or three. We will screen The Winding Stream and I’ll do a Q&A at the end. Should be a great night and it sounds like tickets are going fast. Hope you can make it.

Looking forward to seeing my Boston family.

Here’s more info on the event:

Lesley_Riddle_appeal_for_a_highway_historic_marker_(1) copy 2I suppose it’s no secret to most of you that we documentary filmmakers aren’t in this game for the big bucks and fame. With all due respect to Michael Moore and Ken Burns, most of us are not household names and never will be.

We make these kinds of films because we love walking through the doors into other worlds that this work affords us. Being able to tell stories that reside in those worlds and, in doing so, illuminate something about those worlds is paramount to almost all of us. Some of us even dare hope that our work in these worlds will affect change or make some difference culturally, socially, politically.

Crazy, huh?

My team and I worked on The Winding Stream for well over a decade with the hope that we could connect some important cultural dots. The Carter Family created a certain kind of music out of the rocky soil of their world and turned that music into a foundational element for what would later become American country music and folk music and rock music and pop music. Their efforts would launch other songs, other artists and unite us across time and space.

But while making The Winding Stream we also hoped we could pay tribute to an unsung contributor to the Carters’ efforts – Mr. Lesley “Esley” Riddle.

As we show in the film, Lesley was an African-American blues guitarist who met A.P. Carter and eventually helped him collect and remember songs that would be re-arranged into “Carter songs.”

Now that our film is screening for festival audiences (and soon in other ways!) the story of Lesley Riddle is really resonating. People who are just learning about him are now able to acknowledge and honor his role in this story.

But we are not the first; some folks have been rallying in honor of Lesley Riddle’s memory for quite some time and in varied ways.

Every year in Burnsville, NC there is a festival held in his honor.

Rounder Records issued a Lesley Riddle CD.

Playwright Jeff Douglas Messer has written a play celebrating Lesley’s life.

And now, thanks to a big push by a number of people, reported to us by Chris Beacham of the North Carolina Arts Council, there will be a historic marker in the town of Lesely’s birth.

We take great pleasure in knowing that our work on The Winding Stream was quoted in the documents that led to the success of this initiative.

Personally when I hear the news, I shed a little tear of joy for Lesley Riddle.

And that is why we documentarians do what we do.

NWFF award

What a year we’ve had.  Our last round of festivals was amazing – Boston, CBCG’s in NYC, Hot Springs, the American Film Festival in Poland, Bend, Astoria, Reel Music, Santa Fe, Virginia,  and the Northwest Filmmakers’ Festivals

Our documentary film saga of the first family of country music has been embraced across the globe!

The results:

27 festivals here and abroad including a World Premiere at SXSW and a Lincoln Center screening at the annual Sound + Vision Festival!

7 major awards including three Best Feature Documentary awards!   (Thanks to Boston, Santa Fe and the Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival for our most recent awards!)

Stellar reviews and mentions in Variety, Rolling Stone, Billboard, the New Yorker, The Hollywood Reporter, the Boston Globe, and more!

As we wrap up our big festival year we are looking to 2015 to getting the film out to universities, in theaters and museums, on DVD, and in on-demand platforms like iTunes, Netflix and the like.

But before we can do that we need to raise the last of the money to make that happen!

We have a matching grant to cover half of the music and archival rights! But we need your help to match this amount!

The amount we need is $42,500!

If you or perhaps someone you know can make a donation, we’d be most appreciative. As always, this is a tax-deductible donation through the Center for Independent Documentary.

To donate, just go to our DONATE page!

As always, thank you for your support and hope you have great holidays!






Just a quick note to remind our Northwest friends that The Winding Stream will be shown on Saturday, October 11 at the Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium, located in the Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Avenue.

The show starts at 7 PM.

You can get your tickets here:

Looking forward to a great evening. Hope to see you there!

Beth and The Winding Stream Team

NYC_POSTER_Paper_S copy

The Winding Stream will have its New York City debut on Monday, August 4 at 6:30 PM at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater!
165 West 65th Street, NYC.

The screening is the kickoff event for the weeklong Americana Fest presented by the American Music Association and Lincoln Center.

Tickets to the screening and all festival events are free. They are made available one hour before the screening starts and are one to a customer.

Get there early! We anticipate a big crowd!

woods hole banner


Could Woods Hole, Massachusetts be a sweeter community? Hard to imagine. The Winding Stream rolled into this seaside village on Cape Cod for the 23rd Annual Woods Hole Film Festival with great buzz and goodwill. Our opening night show was sold out and a second show was added to keep up with the demand.

And family, friends, music pals and Carter fans showered their love and enthusiasm and we are so grateful. Words can’t accurately convey the warmth and fun we had on Saturday.

Thanks to WHFF Director Judy Laster, to Elijah Wald, our Q & A moderator and “Wayworn Traveler” musician (great music from this band at the screening and after-party!) and to filmmaker Jesse Kreitzer whose short film about Alan Lomax was a great complement to ours.



wayworn travelers

Now we leave out comfy Massachusetts base camp and move on to the summit! NYC! Monday, August 4 at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater! 6:30 PM. Free to all.

For more info:





Catching my breath before I hit the road again. The next stop for The Winding Stream is the Berkshire International Film Festival in Western Massachusetts. It’s a homecoming of sorts since I was born in “the Commonwealth” and I’m looking forward to spending some time on my friend Billie’s farm in neighboring Alford, MA – the scene of many happy gatherings and a few profound ones as well.

But mostly I’m excited about this festival because I’m so curious about how a Northeast audience will react to the film.

The response in Portland, OR was our most recent thrill. The film was very well-received and the whole night was bathed in love and support. And what a party we had after the screening! This was the kind of night you wish you could bottle and save for a day when you’re feeling a bit blue. A real high.

More festivals up ahead but for now,if you’re interested in attending one of our screenings at BIFF this weekend (there are two!), here are the details!

andy and meSometimes technology gets the better of me. This last week or so that’s been the case. I’ve wanted to catch everyone up on the fabulous Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Film and doings just recently in Nashville, but my laptop was having none of it.

So we had to part ways.

My new laptop seems more willing to do my bidding.

In any case, I’m happy to report that the second half of the Southern Circuit was as rich and varied and welcoming as the first half. We played Wallace State College in Hanceville, Alabama to two receptive audiences who knew their Carter Family lore, then circled back to Georgia where we screened the film at an event hosted by the incredible Serenbe Film Institute. BBQ, bourbon, ballads of the Carters and a backwoods setting really made the evening special. Our last stop was Winder, Georgia where the Weber Family led the audience in a rousing version of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and we broke attendance records!

It was a great tour. Thanks to all the venues along the way and especially to Teresa Hollingsworth and everyone who makes the Southern Circuit possible!(I’m looking at you NEA!) This filmmaker is very grateful for the opportunity to show this film in this way. A brilliant idea that I would love to see replicated in other regions!