They’ve gone & put me in a movie!

I’m gonna do two things I rarely do. Blog and brag.

It all started when a friend of mine, Eva Moon, texted me out of the blue to ask if I wanted a gig. Her exact text was, “Hey George. It’s Eva from the distant past. Could you contact me about a gig please?” What competent, self respecting working musician could say no? Her email clarified that my band, Tweety & the Tomcats were being invited to be in a local indie production called “Shade of Music” which would require us to “act” as if we were a jazz trio. She knew we could do that in a walk. I asked Tom Austin (bass & vox) and Gina Holloway (sax & vox) if they wanted to be in a movie. Yes.

The director wanted us to find an obscure, public domain jazz piece to perform in the film. Eva suggested that I pitch “Midnight”, a song of mine that she had covered once in her band, co-written with the incomparable Dayna Wills (lyrics). So I quickly recorded an acoustic version and sent it along to the powers that be.

They loved it. They wanted it.

Gina quickly brushed up on a jazzy rendition of the melody, Tom pulled out a standup bass and we got together over at his place to record a live version of the song. We mixed, semi-mastered and provided a click track version to the production team for us to sync to during the filming.

Then we waited for our call time.

At 2:30pm on Sunday the 26th of July, (the 102nd birthday of my mother-in-law) we schlepped all our gear for a live performance down to a Tukwila WA having hit our 3 to 8pm call time window with a ½ hour to spare. Before we started unpacking in the rain, as is the nature of film production, plans had already changed resulting in 90% of our gear being deemed unusable for the small shooting area. We were early, ready and eager to be filmed.

Movie making is the ultimate “hurry up and wait” experience. We chilled, schmoozed, ate and waited for a few hours, gleaning bits and pieces of the film’s plot. Seems it involves two older gents who find themselves in apartments adjacent to one another. They come to realize that they disagree with each other on just about everything. They share but one love. Our song “Midnight” … I Know! Right?

After make-up and wardrobe, we set up in a corner of the small apartment’s hotbox of a living room crowded with lights, cameras and orchestrated bouts of action and prep. I was asked to remove my glasses. Being extremely myopic, every face in the room was rendered a fleshy, featureless blob, which actually relaxed me. On a whim, I had brought along a 1950s style broadcast mic, which we employed as our only prop other than our instruments. We filmed for hours and are finally revealed as the culmination of the story. One of the two main characters finds the original band that recorded their favorite song and hires them to play live at the other’s surprise birthday party! … I KNOW! RIGHT?

So unless this puppy looses funding somewhere along the line, I’m in a movie which premiers at next year’s Berlin International Film Festival!

I KNOW!! – RIGHT?

Remember The Park Avenue Playground?

Park Avenue Playground On 45
Park Avenue Playground 45

You’re not alone in your lack of recall of this obscure band, trust me.

Back in the late 60’s I was in a pop rock garage band. I know, I know. So was everyone else. Known then as the U.S.Males, we were performing quite a lot in the Chicago-land area but again, so was everybody. Garage bands were like Starbucks now. On any given day, when we would go outside on a break, we could hear the muffled thump and low tone of a kick drum and a bass with a hint of too loud electric guitar and screaming vocals coming from multiple directions in my south Chicago suburb of Lansing, IL.

I was alternately on rhythm guitar or bass (when the bass player didn’t show up for a gig or practice) and was writing half of the original material along with Mike, the Farfisa player. We performed so much we began garnering bit of attention and backing.

So now we move into a more rarified field. We got ourselves a record! with the help of our friend, manager, mentor and body gaurd, Larry Goldberg who just recently got in touch with me through the interwebs. We recorded up in Madison WI (I coulda swore it was Michigan) and came back with a tasty little pop 45.

After a name change, we got on the bill with quite a few acts in the area. We started playing the same circuit with The Cryan Shames, The Flock, The Shadows of Knight, not to mention opening for Spirit, The Bob Seger System and a host of other bands too numerous and lost in the synapses of my mind at this posting. A few more were; Mason Profit, The Outsiders, The Amboy Dukes (Ted Nugent’s band) and Alice Cooper (if you need a link to find out who Alice is, I can’t help you)

Not everyone was as lucky as my bandmates and I were in those heady days of early american garage rock. We had fun almost always. There was that weekend in Peoria .. but I digress.

Now, all these years later, a label named Sundazed Music Inc. has released a compilation of recordings released on USA and Destination records, available in *vinyl* as well as CD, which includes the A & B sides of our humble 45.

My life is awesomesauciest at this moment.

Makes me wanna make another record.