News Column

Indie Memphis, Levitt Shell announce concert film lineup

June 24, 2014

By John Beifuss, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.

June 24--A fourth season of free Friday music movies begins July 25 at one of the city's most popular and historic live music venues, the Levitt Shell.

The star acts in this summer's Indie Memphis "Concert Film Series" range from the powerhouse (Led Zeppelin) to the relatively esoteric (Iceland's Sigur RÓs). Two of the seven scheduled films will showcase what Jerry Lee Lewis described as "that Memphis beat," while two of the screenings will feature rare footage from the Shelley Archives, a massive collection of concert films, TV appearances and other clips compiled by New York rock 'n' roll enthusiast and scholar Bill Shelley.

Intended to complement the wildly successful Levitt Shell concert series, which brings such artists as Rosanne Cash and the Old 97's to Overton Park, the film series is presented by Orion Federal Credit Union, and made possible in part through a grant from ArtsMemphis. Shows start at dusk, and food and drink will be available for purchase.

Here's the schedule:

July 25: "Jazz on a Summer's Day" -- Added in 1999 to the Library of Congress National Film Registry, which recognizes movies for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant," this 1959 documentary by fashion photographer Bert Stern feels as improvisational as the music it features, although it's carefully structured to present an impressionist portrait of a single day in 1958 at the famous Newport Jazz Festival, mixing images of the audience and the town with concert footage of such titans as Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Mahalia Jackson, Anita O'Day and even Chuck Berry.

Aug. 1: "Billy Joel: 1960s-1990s" -- The hitmaking "Piano Man" performs such songs as "New York State of Mind, "Big Shot" and "Allentown" in this Shelley Archives compilation of concert footage, studio rehearsals and television appearances.

Aug. 8: "Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains the Same" -- The blues-based, tight-pantsed British arena rock band that arguably invented heavy metal gives "No Quarter" in this 1976 one-time midnight-movie classic that mixes Tolkienesque fantasy sequences with thunderous Madison Square Garden concert footage. Bring a lighter to raise during "Stairway to Heaven."

Aug. 15: "Sigur RÓs: Inni" -- Is Memphis a hotbed of fans of the Icelandic rock album Me su Í eyrum vi spilum? We'll find out when this live-in-London 2011 concert film -- featuring many cuts from the aforementioned long-player -- brings the ethereal "post-rock" ensemble Sigur RÓs to the stage once occupied by Elvis.

Aug. 22: "Fleetwood Mac" -- This Shelley Archives screening showcases a variety of Fleetwood Mac lineups (from Peter Green to more recent years) performing such songs as "Go Your Own Way" and "You Make Loving Fun" in TV and stage footage from Japan, Europe and the U.S.

Aug. 29: "Wattstax" -- Hosted by Richard Pryor, this classic 1973 documentary captures the energy of a daylong celebration of Stax music at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Highlights include Rufus Thomas (in hot pink hot pants) and Isaac Hayes (in a bold repurposing of a symbol of slavery: a robe made from golden chains). Fun fact: Director Mel Stuart's other classic movie isn't one you would expect -- it's 1971's "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."

Sept. 5: "Meanwhile in Memphis: The Sound of a Revolution" -- Directed by Nan Hackman and Robert Allen Parker, this comprehensive labor-of-love documentary, which screened at the 2013 Indie Memphis Film Festival, looks at the past few decades of music-making "misfit mavericks" in Memphis, including such artists as Mud Boy & the Neutrons, Tav Falco's Panther Burns, Big Ass Truck, Al Kapone, the Grifters, Kingpin Skinny Pimp and many, many more.

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Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

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