Don Bauder 7:49 p.m., May 22
Locally Produced Pretty Things Docu: Rare Screening July 6
On July 6, American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood will host a special theatrical screening of local Reelin' In The Years Productions' documentary The Pretty Things: Midnight To Six 1965-1970, which features 20 full-length performances, including their historic, riot-inducing R&B period, their highly influential, rock-opera/psychedelic SF Sorrow period, and ending with their proto-heavy metal Parachute period.
The Pretty Things documentary has only been publicly screened once before, in January 2011 at San Diego's Museum of Making Music (with less than 100 in attendance), but the planned DVD release never happened. "We started this film in May of 2010 and had every intention of releasing it in the fall of that year," says David Peck at Reelin' in the Years, "but I got screwed over by the distributor -- welcome to the entertainment business -- and thus I didn't have the necessary funds to pay for the clearances to release the film."
"I did invest quite a bit of my own money for our team to film, edit, direct, and produce this documentary, and all I want is for this wonderful film to finally see the light of day, if for no other reason to honor the band and their music."
The Pretty Things are one of the most influential yet unsung rock groups in history. Between songs are new interviews with the original band members (Phil May, Dick Taylor, John Stax, Skip Alan, Wally Waller and Jon Povey), telling stories and recounting the fascinating, tumultuous, and controversial history of the band.
The Prettys were never more brilliant and ridiculous than their sci-fi psych opus S.F. Sorrow, as seen in this acid-drenched TV rendition of "Baron Saturday" (the documentary includes a far better print of this offbeat performance):
After the screening will be a panel discussion and Q&A with the producers David Peck of Reelin' in the Years, along with Tom Gulotta, Phil Galloway, Rob Bowman, and music historian Bart Mendoza (Manual Scan, the Shambles).
The same event will also include a rare theatrical screening of RITY's Small Faces documentary.
Call (323) 466-FILM for tickets and information. More info at http://www.americancinemathequecalendar.com/egyptian_theatre_events
David Peck's local Reelin' In The Years Productions maintains an archive of over 10,000 filmed musical performances, as well as representing others with footage to license for broadcast or video releases. VH1 probably couldn't make shows like I Love the '70s and Behind the Music without Peck's ever-growing database of footage.
Peck once told me a great story about locally-shot footage that includes longtime local DJ Jim McIness, who just recently recovered from brain surgery.
Reelin' holds a piece of historical footage featuring McInnes, which it has licensed for use to VH1. "I got ahold of a piece of film that was shot at a backyard party here in San Diego, around 1981," says Peck.
"Weird Al Yankovic was there, before he really broke big, when he was still doing 'Another One Rides the Bus' on [syndicated radio show] Dr. Demento. Jim is playing with him, and he's playing Weird Al's accordion and somebody comes by and spills beer on the thing. Weird Al got really upset with him, because it was a brand new accordion! And Jim is just shrugging his shoulders, like, 'hey, it's just an accordion, not a Les Paul,' but Weird Al wasn't laughing. Shows which one of them actually had the sense of humor, huh?"
Among Peck's greatest finds: In 2010, he uncovered a 30-minute film of home movies from the 1950s featuring the legendary Hank Williams Sr. along with Marty Robbins, the Carter Family, Merle Travis, Lefty Frizell, Hank Snow, Maddox Bothers & Rose, Bill Monroe and a host of others.
These images, shot in pristine 16mm color film, capture these classic artists in performance and in rare candid moments. Highlights include Hank Williams singing at a disc jockey convention in Nashville, Marty Robbins playing guitar on a front lawn, Kitty Wells standing in front of her tour car and Merle Travis preparing to board a small plane.
This newly recovered footage was shot by John Banks, part owner of radio station KRDU in Dinuba, CA while these artists were at the station and his home. In addition to filming these artists in California, Banks took his 16mm camera to Nashville and captured many artists backstage during a convention of disc jockeys held in the early 1950s.
Here's the trailer for The Pretty Things: Midnight To Six 1965-1970: