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Published: 2004/12/01
by Benjy Eisen

DVD Holiday Gift Guide

Ten DVDs that will make great gifts for the holidays:
1.) Phish IT. This two-disc set, which combines a PBS documentary with uncut live footage, is the heat for Phish fans this winter. The band might be gone but this DVD will keep their essence alive (and live) forever.
2.) The Grateful Dead Movie Even if your favorite Deadhead already has The Grateful Dead Movie on VHS, give them this DVD for the holidays and they’ll be in Jerry heaven. There’s enough extra concert footage, bonus material, and hidden eggs here to keep them rocking into 2005.
3.) Trey Anastasio Live at Warfield with Special Guest Carlos Santana. Two guitar heroes square off in a set-long stage duel that is nothing less than LSD for the ears. The cinematography may not be stunning, but it does give you a ringside seat. Short on extras, long on jams, a must-own DVD.
4.) Festival Express. If giving this DVD as a gift, bundle it with popcorn and ask for a space on the couch. Jerry Garcia confesses to Janis Joplin, Bob Weir defends police authority, and a mob of pissed-off Canadians storm the gates this movie was worth the 30-year wait.
5.) Ween Live in Chicago. This is the DVD you give them when you want to score some serious points. It’s the concert film that converted all Ween non-believers into devoted fans. It’ll do the same for anyone you could possibly give this to, including unsuspecting co-workers and almost-cool relatives.
6.) Umphrey’s McGee Live from the Lake Coast. The jamband fan on your list will get hooked on Umphrey’s McGee in 2005, so you might as well give them the DVD now, as a preemptive measure. This two-show highlight reel excludes some of the crazy antics the band is known for, but it does capture a commanding performance. Enjoy Umphrey’s goofy side? Check the bonus features, search for hidden eggs, find what you’re looking for.
7.) Outfoxed. Okay, so it’s a news documentary. But instead of giving them the already-outdated Fahrenheit 911 (or Fahrenhype, depending on your take), give them this stimulating exposIt won’t challenge partisanship or politic, but it will challenge the way viewers watch the news. Particularly Fox. Buy it for the Lisa Simpson in all of us.
8.) I Am Trying to Break Your Heart A Film About Wilco. This DVD was released two years ago, but chances are there’s a person on your list that just discovered Wilco in the past nine months. And chances are they’re now nuts about the band. If that’s true, get them this DVD at all costs (well, for around $24 technically).
9.) Asylum Street Spankers Sideshow Fez. We guarantee that this gift will surprise the recipient because they’ve never even heard of the band. It’s an ambush but as soon as they press play, they’ll call you to say thanks (and to apologize for giving you tube socks again this year). Sideshow Fez is an artful freak-show of old-timey music, highbrow camp, and lowbrow humor.
10.) Bluegrass Journey. If a mandolin or banjo is out of your price range, this flick is a more affordable way to bring bluegrass into the living room. It’s a celebration of the genre and features remarkable performances by a range of artists. Filmed, edited, and directed with enough skill that even a bluegrass skeptic like myself enjoyed repeated viewing.

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