Lyle LovettFamed Houston nightclub Anderson Fair is celebrating its 40th anniversary with the release of a documentary film titled 'For the Sake of a Song: The Story of Anderson Fair.' The film premiered Wednesday night (Apr. 21) during the Nashville Film Festival, with two of the club's frequent players, Lyle Lovett and Vince Bell, on hand for the event.

"This was a labor of love for [director] Bruce Bryant and the people who did this film," Lyle tells The Boot. "I think they taped my part of it in 2004, so it's taken this long for it all to come together."

The people involved in the production never gave up on the documentary, just as the men and women who have owned and worked at Anderson Fair have never given up on the boutique nightclub. The continuing theme throughout the movie was that the place never made money but the various owners' love for great music, and the goodness of the many volunteers who tended bar and worked as cooks, waitresses and waiters over the years, have helped the music showcase keep its doors open for singer/songwriters of all genres.

Lyle first heard of the club when he did a story on singer/songwriter Don Sanders while a journalism student at Texas A&M, writing for the college magazine Battalion. In a modern-day interview with Lyle, he notes that after Sanders told him about Anderson Fair he had to go see it for himself.

"I think I owe a great deal of my pursuing writing songs to hearing the great music at Anderson Fair," he says in the documentary. "Whenever you played there you always had to have one new song to play, and two if you could."

Jim Barham, who acted as cinematographer/producer/editor for the project, told the Houston Chronicle, "It's not really about the physical space so much as about the spirit of the place. One of the challenges was how do you tell a story about a place? So we wanted it to be an oral history, where we extracted the narrative from the people who lived this story."

The film features rare footage of Townes Van Zandt and Dave Van Ronk, and interviews with many of the folks who played there including Guy Clark, Lucinda Williams, Robert Earl Keen, Nanci Griffith, Shake Russell and Eric Taylor, as well as new performances filmed specifically for this project.

"It's a really powerful film and it represents all the traditions of other places similar to it, like the Ark in Ann Arbor [Mich.] and the Bluebird in Nashville," Lyle says. "This film captures the spirit and generosity of the club over the years."

Lyle says watching the movie brought back a lot of memories for him from his days playing at Anderson Fair. "That scene with Vince Bell, Steve Fromholz and Eric Taylor was moving, and I recognized a piece of vintage footage where I was the opening act that night!"

Prior to the screening of 'For the Sake of The Song: The Story of Anderson Fair,' a 20-minute short titled 'The Legend of Hank Cochran' was shown, Produced by Charlie Peacock, the piece was edited from a special evening BMI held to honor the songwriter of such hits as 'She's Got You' and 'Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me?' In one of the film's highlights, Willie Nelson calls in to say congratulations. "I wish I could be there," he tells Hank. "Say, do you remember me and you sitting down at Tootsie's nightclub playing songs for Faron Young, and you called up the folks at Pamper Music and told them to take the $50 a week raise they were gonna give you and use it to sign me? If it weren't for you I wouldn't have got that break in Nashville."

Others featured in the film short were Merle Haggard, Lee Ann Womack, Jamey Johnson, Bobby Bare and Gene Watson, who all honored Hank by singing his songs.

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