July 3, 2008 by A.C. Rhodes
If you are fortunate enough to live on the west coast and are a music movie enthusiast, Don’t Knock The Rock, the annual film fest celebrating the same, is just your scene. Now in its fifth year, the brainchild of director Allison Anders is as strong as ever, featuring two full months of summer music cinema. After directing such iconic independent films as Border Radio and Sugar Town as well as the critically acclaimed Grace of My Heart, she thought of the project while teaching at the University of California – Santa Barbara. While there she noticed that many of the students hadn’t heard much less seen the films she screened. Thinking this a shame and remembering a time when the seminal pictures were more celebrated was part of her impetus to start Don’t Knock the Rock, an annual film festival exposing new films by budding filmmakers.
This year DKTR partnered with Cinespia and Cinefamily and will be housed in two venues. Opening and closing nights take place at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, with every Thursday night in July and August at The Silent Movie Theater. Additionally, there will be special Saturday Matinee Events. Returning for his 4th year as Master of Ceremonies is actor and musician Michael Des Barres.
Opening night featured an encore screening of Steven Binder’s rarely shown 1964 classic rock concert film, THE T.A.M.I. SHOW. In 1964 young Steve Binder was hired to film a concert at Santa Monica Civic featuring the biggest jukebox stars of the day, who would go on to become pop history legends: Chuck Berry, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Lesley Gore, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, The Rolling Stones, Jan & Dean, Gerry & The Pacemakers, garage rockers The Barbarians, and more with house band The Wrecking Crew under the direction of Phil Spector. Just as interesting to pop culture enthusiasts, included is bonus never before seen material and Go Go dancers Toni Basil and Teri Garr back up the acts. The energy of the performances and the audience that Steve Binder captured has yet to be matched. If you weren’t that or wish you had, this was the next best thing.
THE WRECKING CREW by Denny Tedesco
Denny Tedesco’s love letter to The Wrecking Crew, a group of LA studio musicians which included his father Fender guitar player great Tommy Tedesco, Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye, Don Randi and Glenn Campbell. In the 1960s The Wrecking Crew played on over half of the country’s top 40 hits for Ricky Nelson, Johnny Rivers Frank Sinatra and Nancy Sinatra, Sonny and Cher, Jan & Dean, The Beach Boys, The Monkees, Mamas and Papas, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Tijuana Brass, and were Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound. Denny Tedesco was present for a post-screening Q&A, and Boyd Rice on-hand to DJ and VJ vintage scopitones both before and after the screening.
You Think You Really Know Me: The Gary Wilson Story by Michael Wolk
Championed by the likes of Beck and Matt Groening, and obsessed over by record collectors, Gary Wilson’s album You Think You Really Know Me is one of the most unique, personal musical statements of the 1970s. Inspired by the seminal album’s 2002 reissue, director Michael Wolk set out to learn more about its creator, only to find that Wilson had vanished shortly after its release, making the story just as peculiar as the record itself. You Think You Really Know Me: The Gary Wilson Story is a look at the musician’s bittersweet life, ahead of his time and poised for rediscovery. As a special treat, Wilson is to perform live on the Cinefamily stage after the screening. Preceding is D. Sticker’s short film My Pal Foot Foot.
Such Hawks, Such Hounds by John Srebalus and Jessica Hundley
This is the Los Angeles premier of a heavy film exploring the musicians and music of the American hard rock underground from 1970 to 2007, emphasizing psychedelic and ’70s proto-metal-derived styles such as doom metal, stoner, desert and space rock, which have in recent years all formed a rich tapestry of ear-splitting sounds. The evolution of these styles is explored, while serving as a character study of artists on the fringes of both straight society and hip indie circles.
We are shown how these musicians live, work and sustain careers outside the rock mainstream. Bands featured include Pentagram, Black Sabbath, Dead Meadow, Earthless, Fu Manchu, Sleep, Comets on Fire, Kyuss and Nebula. DJ Tony “Tee Pee” Presedo will be presiding over the decks before and after the show, and following the screening will be a Q&A with filmmakers John Srebalus and Jessica Hundley, and a live performance by San Diego psych band Earthless.
Far East Punk Triple Feature: Beijing Bubbles/Rock ‘N Tokyo/Wasted Orient
DKTR premiers three slices of the new Asian punk rock culture. Beijing Bubbles, is an intimate document of five bands in China’s capital city. Transcending beyond common cliches of life and society in China, the film is a well-paced portrait of the group’s struggle to maintain their individuality in the fastest-growing country in the world. Following is Rock ‘N Tokyo, a jolt of Japanese energy profiling some of their tightest and fastest bands, like Guitar Wolf and The 220.127.116.11.’s (featured in Quentin Tarantino’s, Kill Bill.)
Rounding out the evening is Wasted Orient, a profile of Chinese band Joyside (also in Beijing Bubbles.) Obsessed with Johnny Thunders and American punk, the film follows the band spreading their beer-soaked message across an unprepared Chinese countryside. Q&A with filmmaker Pamela Valente will follow the screening of Rock ‘N Tokyo.
This Is The Life (L.A. premiere) & Return Of The Rub-A-Dub Style (World premier)
This Is The Life tells the little-known story of a group of teens who, starting in 1989, regularly met at the South Central L.A. health food store The Good Life and revolutionized hip-hop by innovating rhyme patterns, melodic concepts and lyrical styles used by many of today’s biggest rap stars. Directed by former Good Life emcee Ava DuVernay, the film features interviews and performances from members of Freestyle Fellowship, Jurassic 5 and more.
Return of the Rub-A-Dub Style, charts the dual history of reggae soundsystem culture in Jamaica and its renewal at L.A.’s weekly Dub Club, in Echo Park, where hardcore Jamaican micsmiths known as “deejays” come from around the world to “chat on the mic” with their lyrics of consciousness. Featured artists include Brigadier Jerry, Ranking Joe, Sister Nancy and U-Roy. Filmmaker Q&As and a live performance by Ranking Joe, Tippa Lee, and the Echodelic Soundsystem immediately follow the film.
Regional Punk Double Bill – You Weren’t There: A History of Chicago Punk & DFW Punk (L.A. premiers)
This double feature celebrates two city’s overlooked vibrant punk scenes of the same early era. You Weren’t There is a gritty, exhilarating look back on the impact punk had on the Windy City. From what is now considered to be the first punk club in America (La Mere Vipere) to other proto-hardcore clubs and DIY venues, Chicagoans made sure that there were outlets for the genre that was often blacklisted by the mainstream rock scene. Featuring archival footage of Naked Raygun, Big Black and more.
Follwing is DFW Punk, which depicts the Dallas/Ft. Worth punk/new wave scene. If you thought Texas in the late ’70s was all about urban cowboys, country tunes and bible-thumping, get ready to be proved dead wrong. Filmmaker Q&As follow the screenings, and DJ Terry “Dadbag” Graham (Gun Club, The Bags) will be on-hand to spin tunes during the breaks.
If It Ain’t Stiff by Ben Whalley
By the mid ’70s, rock had disappeared up its own corporate “arse”. Thank goodness for Stiff Records, a ramshackle indie label formed by two penniless visionaries that took music out of the boardroom and gave it back to the fans. Stiff invented the new wave with Nick Lowe, put punk on vinyl with the Damned, gave the world Elvis Costello and Ian Dury, and dominated the charts in the ’80s with Madness. In its own words, “If it ain’t Stiff, it ain’t worth a fuck.”
The US premier features appearances from all acts mentioned, plus Devo, Shane MacGowan, Wreckless Eric and Larry Wallis with label bosses Dave Robinson and Jake Riviera. Filmmaker Ben Whalley will be present for a post-screening Q&A, Stiff founder Dave Robinson will bring along videos he directed for the label and DJ Wreckless Ian Marshall will spin the Stiff catalogue. Be sure to stick around for our live Stiff tribute concert with very special guests later in the evening, preceded by Carol Chiodini short film, Action Woman.
Music Nerd Double Bill: Under The Covers & Let Me Be Your Band (L.A. Premiers)
Seen through the eyes of world-famous rock photographer Henry Diltz and three- time Grammy-nominated art director/artist Gary Burden, Under The Covers takes us through the classic rock era of the late ’60s and early ’70s via the iconic album covers the two friends designed together. Bill Day’s charming film contains candid conversations with The Doors’ Ray Manzerek, Jackson Browne, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and footage of Joni Mitchell, America, The Eagles, and many more. A Q&A with Bill Day and Henry Diltz follows.
Let Me Be Your Band, has been hailed as a joyous ode to the tradition of the one-man band. It’s a heart-pumping trek leading to the rockabilly sounds of Hasil Adkins, the punk-infused Delta Blues skronk of Bob Log, III, Eric Royer’s self-built five-piece bluegrass band, the haunting tones of the Lonesome Organist, Washboard Hank performing on his kitchen-sink tuba, and more. After the screening, filmmaker Derek Emerson will conduct a Q&A session.
Far Off Town: Dunedin to Nashville by Bridget Sutherland
Founding member of the seminal 1980s band The Clean and a legendary presence on New Zealand’s independent music scene for almost thirty years, Far Off Town follows David Kilgour on a 2003 trip to Nashville to make his record The Frozen Orange with alt country band Lambchop. It’s a fascinating glimpse into Kilgour’s creative process, featuring David’s travels from Lambchop frontman Kurt Wagner’s basement, to the recording studio of maverick producer Mark Nevers and the underworld haunts of the Nashville music scene.
Also performing in the film are The Clean and Kilgour’s other band The Heavy Eights. Strewn along his journey’s path are Yo La Tengo, Will Oldham, Billy Joe Shaver, Al Kooper, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and David Berman (of The Silver Jews). Following the L.A. premier is a live solo set from Kilgour, plus a Q&A with filmmaker Bridget Sutherland, preceded by the short film, Madison Class Of ’64, from Sergi Rubio.
Saturday Special Events at The Silent Movie Theater
Don’t Knock The Rock presents these matinees combined with special workshops to be announced:
Saturday August 16
Sonic Youth: Sleeping Nights Awake by Michael Alrbight
In the summer of 2006, a group of seven Reno, NV high school students set out to make a documentary on Sonic Youth. As part of the non-profit organization “Project Moonshine”, the teens were given cameras and a few days training then set loose to record a day in the life of DKTR board members Sonic Youth. Shot on location in Reno on the 4th of July, this intimate verite documentary is a behind the scenes look at the influential indie band and contains insightful and candid concert footage ever recorded.
Sunday, August 31 Closing Night Film at Hollywood Forever
Showings are to be announced. Check in at DKTR for film and music workshops along with BMI special panel and guests.
Don’t Knock The Rock
Every Thursday night in July and August (and some Saturday Matinees)
The Silent Movie Theater
611 N. Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles 90036
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