Movies That Rock: Still Crazy

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Still Crazy was released in 1998 and follows the story of a band called Strange Fruit, who was famous in the seventies that is trying to make a comeback twenty years later.

During their prime, the band lived the rock & roll lifestyle to the max–groupies, drugs, etc. The band met its end at a huge outdoor festival, when lightning struck the stage. At that point, the members decided to call it quits. Twenty years later, the idea of a reunion tour occurs to former keyboard player Tony. He sets out to find his band mates with the help of their original manager Karen.

The rest of the movie is dedicated to the reunion tour and all that happens along the way. It is a brilliantly done movie and has everything you could ever want from a film: humor, drama, excitement, and even a few tear-inducing moments. With a wonderful cast that includes Bill Nighy, Stephen Rea, Bill Connolly, and Juliet Aubrey, this is definitely a must-see.

My favorite thing about the movie is Bill Nighy. He plays the part of Ray Simms, who took over for the original front man, Keith Lovell, when he died of an overdose. He does a wonderful job of portraying the uncertainty of a man twenty years older that has lost the arrogance of the youthful rock star and is now used to his home comforts and being taken care of by his wife. He is absolutely hilarious. On his merit alone, I would grant the movie five stars out of five. Add in everything else, and I would give it a rating of 7.5 out of 5. It is seriously that great.

If you ever find it on television, or Netflix, check it out. You will not regret it.

My Musings: Local Music

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I wrote this a while back, inspired by some of the most wonderful nights of my life with Lynam, The Velcro Pygmies, Within Reason, Almost Kings, and Rearview Ghost. I wrote down all that occurred to me, then reworded it to make it sound better. (I’m a writer; it’s what we do.) This is the final product.

There is something undeniably beautiful about local musicians. Their craft is shaped by the love of music, not just a love of money. Every note, every chord, every lyric, every performance is guided by emotion and unmarked by the ugliness of greed. Local musicians still have a certain purity about them. This is only emphasized by their ability to actually see themselves touching lives. They can watch an audience in a way that is lost with too much success. From the stage, they witness the smiles, the laughter, the tears, the words to their songs being sung. But even more importantly, after the show they can meet these individuals, exchange words and hugs, learn something about the person before them, forging a connection, however slight.

There is a level where all of this is lost. And as much as we all want success for the bands/artists we love so much, it is an unfortunate side effect that a lot of what made them beautiful will fade in the glare of the limelight. They still touch lives, still make people laugh and smile. However, it is no longer a major part of the job…and they begin to lose the personal side of things, working only for a bunch of nameless and faceless fans that become nothing more than sources of money.

Local musicians are the true celebrities. They are the ones who deserve respect, praise, awe, and love. We should all devote as much to their cause as they do. I personally would be lost without the local musicians that I am lucky enough to call friends.

(Let me add that I do not begrudge those who succeed. I have no issue whatsoever with those who worked their way to the top. On the other hand, I do have problems with these created artists who never do anything to earn fame but get shoved down everyone’s throats. For every one of those “artists” that exists, the dreams of a legitimate and deserving artist are being crushed.)

Music Memories: Sevendust

Music Memories: Sevendust

Last May, I saw Sevendust at a club in Huntsville, Alabama. Their opening acts were Longreef and Almost Kings. (In my opinion, it was worth going just for Almost Kings.) Long story short, the show was absolutely fantastic. I had never seen Sevendust before, but I will definitely be seeing them again whenever possible.

At the end of the night, I was waiting to say goodbye to Almost Kings and Sevendust front man Lajon Witherspoon came out. He went to the bus first. When he re-emerged and saw me standing there, he said “Hey, baby.” I ran forward and hugged him. He told me exactly where I had been during the show–front row, on the right–and was more than happy to pose for this picture (taken by one of Almost Kings’ crew). It’s always nice to discover that members of the bands you love are actually kind people.