I had never even heard of Sweetwater before I stumbled across "Sweetwater: A True Rock Story", now before anyone screams in horror I wasn't born until the early 70s and so when I was old enough to get into music Sweetwater were no more. Despite this I am a fan of biopics about singers and bands and whilst having watched "Sweetwater: A True Rock Story" I have no idea of how much fact and fiction there is to this made for TV movie it certainly works as a piece of entertainment. In fact considering I had never heard of the band before watching the selection of songs represented in the movie turned me on to their music.
As for the storyline well the lead in is through Cami Carlson a reported who works for the fictional Mix TV and after being stoned live on air is given the choice, be fired or do a where are they now piece on a band called Sweetwater who were the first band to play Woodstock. Cami's side of the movie not only sees her track down the various band members and learn about how Sweetwater came to be and why they suddenly disappeared but also confronts her own demons in doing so. It is an okay way to feed in to the story of Sweetwater especially with her being a troubled person with her own demons but nothing really original when it comes to biopics.
What that means is that the real focus of "Sweetwater: A True Rock Story" is the band itself and especially lead singer Nansi Nevins. Now for me the one thing which this movie gets very right is not to tell us everything to soon as this gives it an element of surprise for those who like me don't know the story. As such each original band member who Cami tracks down tells a bit of the story from how the band came to be, getting signed up, touring and so on. Eventually Cami tracks down Nansi and we get the reason why the band ended so quickly after making it and as I am sure there are others who don't know the Sweetwater story I won't divulge the reason here.
Now as I said this works because it keeps us interested in the unravelling story of Sweetwater whilst serving up some typical scenes of the late 60s music scene. Whilst this does mean that at times it skips through events with surprising pace it also means it is full of energy giving us one drama after another interspersed with musical scenes of the band playing.
Now as I said I knew nothing of Sweetwater before watching "Sweetwater: A True Rock Story" and as such have no idea whether Amy Jo Johnson who plays the young Nansi Nevins or Michelle Phillips who plays the older Nansi look anything like the real Nansi Nevins but they both play engaging characters. With most of the movie working via flashback it is Amy Jo Johnson who dominates the movie and she certainly plays an attractive and engaging character but also does a fantastic job of singing the songs as well. The rest of the cast are just as good with Kurt Max Runte and Robert Moloney doing a good job of playing original band members Alex and Fred but it is Amy Jo Johnson who dominates the movie and in a good way.
What this all boils down to is that "Sweetwater: A True Rock Story" is a nicely put together musical biopic which definitely works as a piece of entertainment for those who have never heard of the band. Hopefully it is just as enjoyable for those who are fans of Sweetwater as well.