Music Film Festival Blog Coverage in Philadelphia, PA

5 years ago

On Thursday April 26 The Inaugural XPN Music Film Festival, produced by The Philadelphia Film Society got underway at the Annenberg Center in University City, Philadelphia.

For anyone unfamiliar with XPN:

WXPN, is a nationally recognized leader in Triple A radio and the premier guide for discovering new and significant artists in rock, blues, roots, and folk, is the non-commercial, member-supported radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. WXPN produces World Cafe, public radio's most popular program of popular music hosted by David Dye and syndicated by NPR,

The opening night film was a concert tour documentary called Big Easy Express. The film's upbeat opening credits, took on a look and feel reminiscent of classic movie musicals like Hello Dolly or Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; as we follow an exuberant young woman through train car after train car filled with jamming musicians from three groups on tour together: Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, and Old Crow Medicine Show.

It was hard to tell the musicians apart from one band to the other - all grungy, folk, Rockabilly revelers. Well, one stood apart, Alex Ebert,  from the Magnetic Zeros. This guy has incredible energy and presence, a sexy Jesus-type in a white farmers night shirt!

The Opening Night Party was an elegant affair held at the Pennsylvania School of Law (3501 Sansom Street) and was catered by Doc Magrogan's Oyster House, opening in just a few short weeks adjacent to the Law School.  Plenty of fresh seafood abound and I truly enjoyed the mini crab cakes. The bar was stocked by sponsors Dock Street Brewery and Barefoot Wines.

Friday night I screened the first half of No Room for Rock Stars also a concert tour doc, featuring the youthful, up and coming performers of The  Warped Tour.  The tension between the more edgy, alternative artists and the new pop sensation Mike Posner, seemed to be the angle of the piece.

Paul Eagleston, Ryan Avery, Michael Lerman
I then popped downstairs to catch the second half of Hi My Name is Ryan  featuring Ryan Avery, a cherub faced lad, resembling a 1950's choirboy; who would ever guess behind his chubby, innocent demeanor lurks a wild, punk rock performance artist, who pushes the boundaries of TMI, decency and absurdity. This off-beat documentary by Paul Eagleston and Stephen Rose is both weird and warm. It's hard not to be taken in by Ryan, who was in attendance for the first screening.  Here's a link to the Hi My Name is Ryan Q & A.
Leaving the Annenberg I headed over to World Cafe Live for the Girl Walk // All Day Dance Party.  I didn't get the name of the DJ, but he was spinning really good, fun 80's and 90's pop/rock songs.  I wanted to stay and dance, but my attire of a heavy sweater and too tight jeans didn't seem conducive, so I shot some pics and left.
Taylor Williams, Dennis Lambert, Jody Lambert
The filmmakers were also present at both of my Saturday screenings: Of All  The Things about legendary songwriter, Dennis Lambert, who together with his musical partner Brian Potter wrote and produced many, many popular songs of the 70's and early 80's including one of my very favorites - Dennis Edward's "Don't Look Any Further", but also hits like: Four Tops “Ain't No Woman”, The Commodores “Night Shift”, Glen Campbell,“Rhinestone Cowboy” & “Don't Pull Your Love”, Tavares “It Only Takes a Minute” Player “Baby Come Back” and more.
The filmmaker is Lambert's own son Jody who documents his father's concert tour in the Philippines, where his music, particularly a solo album which failed in the US, "Bags and Things", is not just popular in the Philippines, but a fabric of their most treasured pop culture. The film is quite entertaining, mainly due to Lambert himself; he's lovable and dottering, musically gifted and naturally funny. Here's a link to the Of All The Things Q & A.
Patron, Denny Tedesco, Patron
The Wrecking Crew is truly an important documentary for music historians.
Director Denny Tedesco is the son of Tommy Tedesco, an amazing guitar player who was part of an era of music making when studio musicians ruled! The best of the best of these musicians were nicknamed "The Wrecking Crew" In the early 1960's to mid 70's just about every pop/rock n' roll artists used these guys [and lone female, Carol Kaye] on their albums to achieve chart topping success.
The documentary features interviews from key members of The Wrecking Crew: Hal Blaine, Earl Palmer, Carol Kaye, Glen Campbell, Joe Osborn as well as interviews from notables: Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, Cher, Nancy Sinatra, Dick Clark and more.  The preservation of these great musician's stories are part of the American Songbook.  The Wrecking Crew documentary needs additional funds to purchase the rights to use all the music in the film.  Here's the link to the donation page and the Denny Tedesco Q & A.
Saturday Night TLA (334 South Street) partnered with the Music Film Festival to show a midnight screenings of Rocky Horror Picture Show – added bonus – The Transylvania Nipple Productions! I got some really racy shots from my balcony perch - Rocky Horror Photo Album.
Destin Daniel, Adam Shipiro, Lauren Coleman
Sunday screened the narrative feature, I Am Not A Hipster, a film about an Indy music singer/songwriter, Brook (Dominic Bogart) going thru a mid-twenties life crisis.  
The film has a terrifically simple and genuine quality. The storytelling really speaks to the pain of the character without being maudlin, but retains an edge. Also hits just the right note in terms of musical performances and soundtrack.  The director, Destin Daniel was in attendance, and although I think he's an emerging filmmaker to take note of; I feel his true talent lies in screenwriting.
Other commitments on Sunday evening prevented me from seeing any other films, including the closing night film, Under African Skies which chronicles Paul Simon's return to South Africa to perform the 25th Anniversary Graceland concert.

Tinsel & Tine (Reel & Dine)

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