Published Apr 28, 2016On the surface, the story of the Smalls — the Edmonton-bred hard rock band that first formed in 1989 and comprised singer Mike Caldwell, drummer Terry Johnson, guitarist Dug Bevans and bassist (and future country crooner) Corb Lund — is not an entirely new one, especially in the Canadian music scene: friends form a band in high school; tour across the country; develop a loyal following; and finally, disintegrate years later due to a lack of financial success and growing disinterest in the monotony of trying to make it in the music industry.
Really, what separates the band from most other Canadian acts who tried to make it big in the '90s is the seriousness of their fans, a group that stretched from Victoria to Thunder Bay and everywhere else in-between, who only grew hungrier for more music in their absence, and would do anything to see them succeed while they were still active (including poster their towns and set up shows in advance).
Captured during the band's 2014 reunion tour, Trevor Smith's The Smalls: Forever Is a Long Time isn't your traditional band documentary, in the sense that it doesn't deal with the minute details of the recording process behind any of their albums, and spends only moderate amounts of time discussing the band's backstory and the reasons for their 13-year absence. Instead, the film focuses on the cultural impact they had during their time on the road, and in doing so, practically acts as a blueprint for all future bands trying to grow their fan base across the country (note: it involves playing small towns, the ones most touring artists are too lazy to visit).
Although the Smalls were a phenomenon primarily in Western Canada — talking heads, featuring fans and critics alike, make the point that the band never got the reception they deserved in Eastern Canada, especially in Toronto — one doesn't have to be a hardcore fan to fall in love with this tale of dedication and redemption. (Crowsnest Films)