“The Center of Nowhere (The Spirit and Sounds of Springfield, Missouri),” featuring musical legends Merle Haggard, Dan Penn, Brenda Lee and others, is a history and celebration of “America’s most overlooked music scene.” Weaving the tale of how the rogue city on Route 66 shaped a compelling sound, influencing country, folk, gospel, rock, and roots music globally, the film will have its digital release on Tuesday August 4th, presented by KDMG and Social Construct. “The Center of Nowhere” premiered at the County Music Hall of Fame and was nominated for the Maverick Award for Best Documentary, Best Director and Special Achievement for animation sequences. The film was also an official selection at AmericanaFest and The St. Louis International Film Festival. Viewers can purchase or rent the film from various digital platforms including Amazon, Vimeo and nationwide OnDemand on cable networks Comcast, Charter/Spectrum, and Cox.
The film explores how the culture of Springfield created a fiercely independent sound that has influenced artists all over the world, and includes additional interviews with Billboard chart-topping and Grammy-winning musicians such as Dave Alvin, punk rockers The Del Lords, members of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, the pop rock band Somebody Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Jonathan Richman, Robbie Fulks, Syd Straw, and the final on camera interviews with Merle Haggard and Springfield music avatars Bobby “Lloyd” Hicks and Lou Whitney.
Springfield’s unique community provides the backdrop, while the story reveals that music is everywhere: not only in the churches and concert halls along Route 66, but also in the hills and lakes of the Ozarks, and even in the city’s unique cuisine. Threaded throughout the film are many musical performances ranging from archival footage of the Ozark Jubilee, stories of songwriter Wayne “The Letter” Carson and rockabilly inferno Ronnie Self. “The Center of Nowhere” celebrates a sense of place, showing how atmosphere, environment, history and even foodways inform art and build community.
“The Center of Nowhere” is the brainchild of longtime Chicago Sun-Times journalist, author and producer Dave Hoekstra, who also wrote and co-produced the PBS special “The Staple Singers and the Civil Rights Movement,” which was nominated for a Chicago Emmy for Outstanding Achievement for a Documentary-Cultural Significance. Co-Producer Jamie Ceaser’s work has been seen on PBS, AMC, TLC and A&E and VH-1, and has been recognized with nine Emmy Awards, two Public Broadcasting Awards, the NATPE Award, and a Lisagor award. Director Tom Vlodek has worked on various shows like CBS “48 Hours” and “60 Minutes,” HBO’s “Real Sports,” NBC’S “Dateline,” ABC’s “20/20” and PBS’ “Frontline,” and has been honored with an Emmy Award for his work. The film is the first release from Parkway Media, a new output arrangement between Social Construct and digital distribution company KDMG.