Rock Docs: The Wild World of Hasil Adkins - Reviewed

With the likelihood of the “My Blue Star” documentary never truly seeing the light of day and only being a very popular trailer for eternity to come, where is a person to go to see a decent documentary on the late, great inventor of psychobilly, Hasil Adkins, with some depth and scope? Well, you will have to settle for Julien Nitzberg’s The Wild World of Hasil Adkins. Julien is also responsible for 2009’s similarly titled The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia, another documentary about the famous White family of Boone County, which is a tie-in with The Wild World of Hasil Adkins as they are all in the same social circle.

“Who the hell is Hasil Adkins” you ask? Listening to Hasil Adkins is an eclectic experience. We often hear the term ‘one man band’, but Hasil Adkins made that reality over over four decades ago not as an artistic decision, but out of sheer ignorance. You can learn about this in The Wild World of Hasil Adkins. Now, that is not a stab at Hasil either, on the contrary that ignorance is what made Hasil Adkins music so brilliant and influential to countless other artists.

Filmed in 1993 and clocking in at only twenty-seven minutes The Wild World of Hasil Adkins is a rough and brief affair. But, it does bare many fruits through its interviews with Hasil himself and people like Norton Records founder Billy Miller relaying a lot of interesting bits about the enigmatic artist know as Hasil Adkins. We get to visit Hasil at his home (shack) and talk to the man about what got him started. As I watched The Wild World of Hasil Adkins a lot of my initial impressions of Hasil came back from my many years of worshiping this man. For one, speaking as a musician, it still amazes me how some people JUST play music. That idea just blows me away. “How can you JUST play music? It does not pay anything really, you have to have a job also right?!” Hasil is just a person who seemed to live his life the way he wanted, and that is another source of great respect I give to this man.

As I said, the documentary is a bit short and rough with, at least to me, some unnecessary material in it that, while was entertaining, I would consider just filler. Why a four hour proper, detailed documentary on Hasil Adkins was not made a decade ago is criminal in my opinion. So, you will have to just settle for The Wild World of Hasil Adkins.

Pass on some wildness.

-Scott W. Lambert