Aspiring filmmakers can wait for a wealthy uncle to die or pray for the vacuum to suck up the right SuperLotto balls. Or they can hit up the local Laundromat.
Kent collective Phat Phive Productions is shooting a low-low-budget film in Northeast Ohio. The members of the group maxed out their credit cards, secured a grant and a loan, and got a local Laundromat to kick in a few thousand. Phat Phiver Chad Zumock works for Laundry 101 owner Justin Clemens, who bequeathed the group with suds money. "He's great; he's an unbelievable guy," Zumock says of his boss. "He's always believed in us. He's like our mentor."
The Phat Phive formed (phormed in their vernacular) a few years ago at Kent Roosevelt High School. Like their heroes, the Beastie Boys, they've been known to dress in matching work uniforms and dabble in various artistic and commercial endeavors. Their website (members.aol.com/phat540) offers a clothing line and back issues of their self-published magazines. One 'zine listed the 500 coolest things of all time (No. 481: Crack whores. "Supply. Demand. It's perfect capitalism.")
Now the phive (there are seven of them, actually) are branching into film. Group member Jess Lamovsky wrote the script, titled A.P.B. 4, which is described as a "'70s cop drama." Another phiver, Charlie DeMarco, will direct.
Funk act Mr. Tibbs is writing the title song and scoring the film. "We'll do anything to support those guys," says Mr. Tibbs singer Chris Queen. "They're incredible people and also really talented." The Phat Phive hope to have the film finished in time for a Kent premiere in late March.
One string was attached to the Laundry 101 deal: Clemens had to appear in the movie: "I think he's playing a bartender, a little cameo," Zumock says.
Three guys with ripped shirts, nose rings, and spiked hair sat at the bar of the Uptowne Grille Thursday night, smoking and drinking beer and red wine. The highly observant bartender asked, "So, you guys in a band?"
No, they're UN weapons inspectors.
The band was the Lower East Side Stitches, NYC punkers in town to play the Euclid Tavern with Blanks 77. Over a Heineken, lead guitarist Curt Stitch said the band will appear in the new Spike Lee movie Summer of Sam. The Stitches were cast as a 1977 punk band (not a stretch); in the film, they perform live at CBGB.
Shooting was supposed to begin at 6 p.m., but the band didn't take the stage until after two in the morning. The band members came prepared--they packed forty-ouncers into their guitar cases. Alcohol was forbidden on the set, so the guys discreetly poured the beer into coffee cops. "We had a babysitter," Stitch said. "She wasn't very good."
Pleasantly buzzed, the Stitches finally took the stage. A member of the film crew supplemented their perspiration with a spray bottle. Stitch doubts it was necessary. The stage lights at CB's, he said, are wilting. "One of these days, if I make a million, I'll invent a light that's cool."
As of February 4, four Ohio bands were listed as performers on the South by Southwest music conference's website: Hillbilly Idol and Poplolly (Cleveland), Tim Easton (Columbus), and the Tigerlilies (Cincinnati).
Don't be embarrassed to ask, Who the hell is Poplolly? The band has never played out.
Poplolly is the brainchild of local musician Gina Jacocks. Jacocks played bass in a number of local bands, "none that I'll own up to being in," before moving to Los Angeles in the mid-'90s. She hooked up with an all-girl band in L.A., but felt stymied. "Bringing songs into another person's group is not an easy thing to do," she says.
She returned to Cleveland and recorded songs at 609 Studio with New Salem Witch Hunters Dave Swanson and Tom Fallon. A tape was sent to SXSW, and Poplolly was accepted. Coming home sounds as if it was the best thing she could have done. "I thought I'd have more opportunities and support than I did out there," Jacocks says. "Cleveland is just much more comfortable."
You have one chance to check out Jacocks's light pop-rock sound before she heads to Austin when Poplolly opens for 3D at Wilbert's Saturday, February 27. Guitarists Michael Purkhiser and Marky Ray of 3D and drummer Bob Szeles, formerly of Indian Rope Burn, will back Jacocks live.
Check out Easton and his fine band, the Haynes Boys, when they play the Grog Shop February 25 with Rosavelt opening.
The Black Crowes, who play E.J. Thomas Hall Wednesday, February 17, are plenty happy to no longer be affiliated with American Recordings. The band's latest, the back-to-basics By Your Side, is its first for Columbia. In an interview last week, Crowes drummer Steve Gorman called American a "no-account dog-and-pony show" and "disorganized, just a hoax. It wasn't a record label. It was a machine for [founder and producer] Rick Rubin to present himself as this cool, happening guy." He added, "I'm proud of the fact no one in the band killed anyone over there."
A spokesperson at Sony Entertainment, American's parent company, declined comment, and said Rubin would not be available.
As mentioned last week, Undercurrents '99 is accepting submissions from bands for the May 20-22 showcase. This year's event will be scaled back. Organizer John Latimer says he'll likely ditch the trade show and keynote speaker and concentrate on the band showcase. He also may shorten the event to two nights, Friday and Saturday, and keep it to clubs on Detroit Avenue. "It's the Flats I don't know if we're going to bother with," he says.
Vinyl Frontier is bringing 25 DJs--some from as far away as the U.K. and Russia--to the Agora Theatre Saturday, February 13. Rest up for this one, kids. The event runs from 9 p.m to 8 a.m. Tickets costs $27 at the door. Knock off $2 if you bring a canned item, which will be delivered to the Cleveland Battered Women's Shelter, and $4 if you come "unusually dressed." Promoter Victor Alexander says unusually dressed means "devils, fairies, drag queens, stuff like that."
Guitarist Tad Swan's move to South Carolina has slowed but not stopped the Boxes. The duo (Mike Misiak plays the drums) has a new CD, Return to Coda, its fourth. To celebrate, the Boxes will play the Plum Creek Tavern Friday and Saturday, February 12 and 13. Despite Swan's move, Misiak says the pair will still play about four or five dates a year in Cleveland.
Mississippi Leg Hound will back Bo Diddley Saturday, February 13 at Mr. B's Irish Exchange in North Canton. The band will also play a set before and after Mr. Diddley. "We're excited to have an opportunity to play with a legend like Bo," says Hound Jeff Rice.
Pop jazz trio Morris Code has a CD release party Saturday, February 13 at the House of Swing in South Euclid. The new disc is titled Just for You. Nosh on the complimentary buffet at 9 p.m. before the 10 p.m. show.