Due to circumstances beyond my control, this blog became a little death-heavy this week. So at last--an event that's very life-affirming. NW Film Center is celebrating their 26th annual music and film program, Jan. 9 - 31. Musical, filmic riches! Check the schedule for full listings, all showing at the Whitsell Auditorium. Here's a smattering of excellence to look forward to.
"Sweet Lady with the Nasty Voice" Sun., 1/11, 7 p.m. - Hot dog! Vincent Kralyevich and Joanne Fish made a documentary on the great Wanda Jackson--godmother of rockabilly and STILL touring. My one regret in life (so far) is that I've always managed to miss Wanda Jackson when she comes around. She is so inspirational--I won't miss the film.
"The Upsetter: The Life & Music of Lee 'Scratch' Perry" Wed., 1/14, 7 p.m. & Fri., 1/16, 9 p.m. - Madman or prophet? Certainly the genius of dub.
"Throw Down Your Heart" Thurs. 1/15, 7 p.m. - Nashville banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck travels to Africa to find the roots of the banjo and to record an album with the musicians he meets in Uganda, Tanzania, Gambia and Mali. My idea of musical heaven.
"Patti Smith: Dream of Life" Thurs., 1/15, 9 p.m. - Steven Sebring followed his muse for nearly twelve years to make this film. That's dedication. I admit--not to deny the powerful charisma of Smith--I would see this mostly to check out Tom Verlaine.
"The Gits" Fri., 1/17, 9 p.m. - The Seattle punk band whose rise was brutally halted when lead singer Mia Zapata was murdered. This is a sad one but it has extensive footage of the band playing live, so go.
"The Wrecking Crew" Sat., 1/24, 7 p.m. - Finally, the phenomenal Los Angeles studio musicians who played on the hits of the 60s get their due. Backing the Beach Boys, Righteous Brothers, the Mamas and the Papas, Frank and Nancy Sinatra, and creating Phil Spector's Wall of Sound, The Wrecking Crew built the pop landscape of my early existence.
So many more music films await you. Check out:
- "Anvil! The Story of Anvil" - the greatest heavy-metal band you never heard of.
- "The Night James Brown Saved Boston" - James Brown was scheduled to perform at the Boston Garden, the night after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.
- "The Silence Before Bach" - a series of vignettes experimentally dwelling on various aspects of Bach music. Whenever I play Bach on the piano, I involuntarily enter a meditative state. I wonder if the movie would function this way too.
- "Blue Note: A Story of Modern Jazz" - how Alfred Lyon and Francis Wolfe fled Nazi Germany, came to New York and started the great jazz record label. Note that the Portland Jazz Festival will be celebrating Blue Note in February. And McCoy Tyner will be playing. I'm nearly passing out from all the excellence.
- "Filmusik: The Superman Orchestra" - Portland's 11-piece Superman Orchestra with three voice actors perform new scores to accompany Max and Dave Fleischer's 40s-era Superman Cartoons, which are fabulous, by the way.
It's all fabulous. Go...go!