The Tale of the Broken Neck

I spent a good portion of the past three weeks shooting WHO IS LYDIA LOVELESS?, which will be either my 13th or 14th completed feature film (depending on whether this or PIZZA, A LOVE STORY is completed first), and while I could share stories about the candid and amazing interviews with Lydia and her bandmates, or what a thrill it was to watch them record their new record, how freakin’ funny they all are, or even just how damn nice everyone is, I will instead share this.

The tale of the broken neck.

My crew arrived in Lydia’s hometown on Columbus on Sunday, June 14th, just in time to see Lydia and company perform at a free show.  But because of the ridiculous lack of cover on the stage, and the fact that is rained virtually every day I was in Ohio (and apparently always does in June), the show was a disaster waiting to happen.  Gear got wet, sound issues abounded because electronics don’t like getting wet, basically it was a cluster fuck on the part of the promoter.

When everything was finally working, and there was a break in the rain, an extremely frustrated Lydia and company managed to pull off their song “Wine Lips” (sweetly dedicated to a young fan), and a small part of another song before the clouds let loose with a torrential downpour.  Ben moved fastest, getting his upright bass under a tarp.  But as one of the dozens seemingly “in charge” of the event ran onto the stage and cancelled the concert, Lydia, completely frustrated by the events, threw her beloved Telecaster to the ground in anger.

For me, a lover of chaos in rock and roll it was a beautiful way to begin the trip.  My 5th Lydia show, only a song and a half long.  And as me and my crew walked back to the rental Jeep in the pouring rain, I couldn’t wait for the interviews to begin.

And this story might have ended there…

Until the next morning when I get to Lydia’s and Ben’s home, and checking out her office where the first of many interviews would be filmed, I picked up the Tele, making some stupid comment to Lydia about how indestructible they are.  And then it became obvious.  I noticed.  She noticed.  Fuck!  The neck of her favorite guitar was cracked.  Not a small repairable crack.  But cracked through and through on the headstock.

Now in my life I have certainly put my foot in my mouth many times.  But I don’t think I’ve ever felt worse about calling attention to anything.  Here we are about to begin the interviews, while I can see how truly upset she is about her guitar.  I felt terrible, even though I played no part in breaking it.

In the end of course, the guitar was quickly fitted with a gorgeous new neck.  The interviews were everything I wanted them to be and more.  I learned for the 1,843rd time this year to think before I speak.  And Lydia posted this on her Facebook page with a picture of the new neck: “New neck for my main squeeze. My guitar tossing days are over ‪#‎trymeditationforanger‬ ‪#‎onepunchloveless‬ ‪#‎whoamikidding‬

I even got to take home a little souvenir.

I don’t really collect much memorabilia anymore.  I have a few items from my favorites bands (y’know, The Mats, Archers, Wilco), but none of them have the meaning of this broken neck.

It sits now at the entrance to my office, the first thing I see every time I enter.

And it truly does represent the most rock and roll way imaginable to begin this film.

Broken Guitar Neck-small

 

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An open letter to my Color Me Obsessed fans

Hello,

I think I can probably qualify as a pretty big Replacements fan. I’ve loved them since about 1983. Have gone to every tour since, including every solo tour. So having watched and listened to Paul and company for that long I find myself not bothered one microscopic bit by this co-called break-up announcement. Why? you might ask. Because it’s the fucking Replacements. They live to fuck with us. That’s part of why we love them. Is there a more sarcastic genius on the planet than Paul? NO, there isn’t. So, my advice: everyone unruffle your panties, sit back, and wait. In the mean time, enjoy the music as you always have, enjoy the onslaught of live videos posted on YouTube, and be patient. What makes for great rock and roll is that you never know what’s going to happen next. And here we are…

Gorman Bechard
director, Color Me Obsessed

CMO-POSTER-FINAL-small

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Filed under Color Me Obsessed, paul westerberg, replacements, replacements reunion

An update that’s long overdue…

It’s been months and I apologize.

First off thank you to everyone who made the “Who is Lydia Loveless?” KickStarter such a success.  You guys rock.  As will this film.  We’ve set up a website here.

As I write this I’m listening to the gorgeous 6-LP “Live at Carnegie Hall” box set from Ryan Adams.  While I haven’t been in love with Ryan’s newest records, live he still astounds.  And live solo, he takes your breath away.  This is a truly magnificent record.

Ryan Adams

We’ve got a lot of film news.  Getting ready for the “A Dog Named Gucci” sound mix.  The closing credits song, which I’ve been hinting at for over a year is done.  It’s beautiful.  It will make you cry.  Dean Falcone did a brilliant job of bringing together this amazing collection of vocalists and musicians.  He’s my music producer of the year.  Wait until you see the list of people involved.  Wait until you hear the song!  Where and when you can see the film will be announced soon.  Keep an eye on the website.

And if you clicked that link, you noticed that we are throwing our second documentary film party in New Haven this June.  Yes, NHdocs returns.  For three days this time around.  So much bigger!  Admission is still free.  If you are in Connecticut, come and enjoy a collection of amazing documentaries.

Yes, “A Dog Named Gucci” is screening…but immediately before it we will present the World Premiere of the trailer for “Pizza, A Love Story,” our upcoming documentary on the holy trinity of pizza (Sally’s, Pepe’s, Modern).  Time to get excited.

We’ve also got two new films that we’ll be announcing soon…one that takes us back to Minneapolis, and the other…well, let’s just keep that one a secret for now.  Let’s just say it’s very “smart.”

All for now.  Thank you for reading…

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Lydia Loveless rocks her own documentary from COLOR ME OBSESSED director Gorman Bechard

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

COLUMBUS, OH & NEW HAVEN, CT: Filmmaker Gorman Bechard, who has chronicled three of the most influential bands in the history of rock and roll with documentaries about The Replacements, Archers of Loaf, and Hüsker Dü’s Grant Hart is turning his camera towards the future with his next film, WHO IS LYDIA LOVELESS?

KickStarter Main Image-3-HR

The feature-length documentary will follow Lydia Loveless and her band into the studio as they lay down tracks for their forthcoming record. Along with live performances shot specifically for the film and extensive interviews with Loveless and her band it will visit places integral to her musical development, delve into the realities of a working musician on the brink of major success, and answer the question: Who Is Lydia Loveless?

“Lydia is the future of rock and roll,” director Bechard explains. “She straps you onto an emotional roller coaster of love, lust, drunken mistakes, a little stalking, a lot of heartbreak, and you’re left breathless, stunned, happy to have taken the ride.”

Music journalists from SPIN to Rolling Stone have likewise raved, with her last album SOMEWHERE ELSE finding its way onto many of 2014’s Best Album lists.

“I’m excited to work with Gorman,” says Loveless. “He’s very passionate about music and about the true meaning and spirit of rock and roll.”

Bechard’s three previous music docs have all won critical praise. Rolling Stone called COLOR ME OBSESSED, A FILM ABOUT THE REPLACEMENTS one of “The Seven Best New Music Documentaries of the Year.” The Seattle Times raved about the “raw power and mesmerizing hooks” in his Archers of Loaf concert film WHAT DID YOU EXPECT? While EVERY EVERYTHING: THE MUSIC, LIFE & TIMES OF GRANT HART was labeled “beautifully sad” by The Village Voice.

“We have an AMAZING collection of rewards,” the director explains, “including a Lydia Loveless performance at your house for you and your friends.  If I weren’t running this KickStarter I would so be backing the project at that level.  Thankfully the reward includes a screening of the film, so I’ll get to be there.”

WHO IS LYDIA LOVELESS? will be funded via a KickStarter campaign that runs through March 18th. The KickStarter campaign can be found HERE.

Filming is slated for spring and summer 2015, with a premiere planned for 2016.

For more information please visit: www.WhatWereWeThinkingFilms.com

Or www.LydiaLoveless.com

 

 

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Filmmakers: Read the Rules Before You Submit!

A little rant, and hopefully if you’re reading this, you already know better. But perhaps you know someone who should read it. If so, do every festival programmer a favor and pass it on.

As you may or may not know, I am co-director of the NHdocs Film Festival at Yale. We are planning our second event for this June, and just signed on to FilmFreeway so people can submit their films.

Now, despite it stating that we were seeking Connecticut films and/or films from Connecticut filmmakers only in THREE different spots on our page (take a look HERE), out of the 12 films that were submitted in the first 24 hours, all were disqualified because the filmmakers didn’t bother reading the rules. Not a one had any connection to Connecticut. Not even in the most remote way.

Not here is something to take to heart, because it is an absolute fact. If you have ever submitted to a festival without reading the rules and regulations, you are a fucking idiot. Period. End of story. I would smack you upside the head and break your camera if I could.

If you have spent all the time it takes to actually make a film, you should be looking for the right home for your baby. Sort of like finding the right college for your teenager. You should read everything there is to know about any fest that you’re considering. Look at what films have played in previous years. You should feel in your gut that yes, your film is a fit, and that the programmers will like it. You still might not get accepted, but at least you’ve done your homework.

If you don’t, you are wasting everyone’s time.

I reached out to a few of my programming friends this morning to vent. And every single one said it happens all the time. Many do not read the rules, or care what the festival is looking for.

If you’re one of these idiots, shame on you. You’re officially too stupid to make another film. Time to go back to bagging my groceries.

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The World Premiere of A DOG NAMED GUCCI

It’s that time again.

I am very excited to announce the World Premiere of our film A Dog Named Gucci.

It will be screening at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival at the historic Wilma Theatre in downtown Missoula, Montana on Saturday, February 14th at 3:30 PM. Can you think of a better day to fall in love with Gucci?

A Dog Named Gucci the story of a puppy set on fire and the brave man who came to his rescue. But for rescuer Doug James, saving Gucci was just the beginning. Together they would forge a forever bond of devotion and perseverance and work to change the non-existent animal cruelty laws in their home state, proving that justice is a dog’s best friend.

Instead of assaulting the viewer with images of abused animals, we chose to tell what is ultimately a happy and uplifting story of one abuse victim who went on to become a hero. This is a triumphant tale. It’s a film that makes you open your eyes without ever making you turn away. And while Gucci might begin his life as Blackfish, he’s a fighter, and in the end he becomes Rocky.

The film also spotlights three other dogs who, with their owners, have made an incredible impact on the laws protecting animals. These include Susie from North Carolina, who has that state’s felony abuse law named in her honor, and who was just named the Hero Dog of the Year by the American Humane Association; Louis Vuitton from Alabama, the first dog to test the Gucci Law; and Nitro from Queens, New York whose ultimate sacrifice in an Ohio kennel led to the state’s first felony animal abuse laws.

It all grew out of the love for our own rescue dogs.  It’s a highly emotional film because so many people don’t realize the extent of the abuse in the United States. I’ve seen tears, anger, and people just needing to hug their own dog.

Save the date and spread the word.

The info is HERE.

Get your tickets HERE.

Love this town! Love this festival! And the Wilma rocks!!!

Click on the poster to check out our Facebook page.

Click on the poster to check out our Facebook page.

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Filed under animal abuse, animal rights, animal shelters, animal welfare, documentaries, dogs

The Best of 2014

Just as I will always remember that day in 1977 when I walked past Free Being Records on 2nd Avenue and saw that first Elvis Costello single hanging in the store’s window. Or in 1983, the Professor at Phoenix Records handing me the “I Will Dare” 12 inch and saying “I think you might like these guys.” Or being at a CMJ show at Tramps in 1993 when a band with the worst name in the world took the stage and became the band that saved my life. I will always remember the May 7th thread on my Facebook page where I was complaining about how another new music Tuesday came and went without anything worth listening to, and my friend Aggie Donkar wrote: “My favorite under the radar 2014 record is the new Lydia Loveless.”

I trusted Aggie’s taste, and bought the digital version of SOMEWHERE ELSE on Amazon. The opening track, REALLY WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN, started up with guitars that sounded like they belonged on PLEASE TO MEET ME, and then I heard her voice. And once again, just like that, just like in those examples stated above, my life was forever changed.

To say that Lydia Loveless took over my musical life in 2014 is a ridiculous understatement. Ask anyone who’s spent ten minutes with me. I even had friends who suggested an LL drinking game, doing a shot every time I mentioned her name or one of her songs, but then they realized they’d be drunk by 11 AM. Even when albums from old time favorites were released, I’d listen once, maybe twice, and turn right back to Lydia. And by mid-summer I was seriously thinking that this year’s top 10 album list would have spots two through ten left blank.

I eventually came to my senses. Sort of. Because there were other very good albums released this year. Some great albums. Those records are listed below.

But it was also the year of massive disappointment. Some of my favorite musicians of all time put out albums that I truly disliked (talking about you Lucinda, Ryan, Taylor, Ty, Lykke, Bob, EMA, Bruce). And bands that I had the highest hopes for released redundant piles of crap as their second album.

Of course did any of that matter when I got to see The Replacements live three times, including the home-coming show at Midway, which on a scale of one to ten, well, to paraphrase the brilliant Nigel Tufnel, “went to 11.”

So, without further blabbering, my list of the best of everything for 2014…

BEST ALBUMS:

Somewhere Else

1. SOMEWHERE ELSE – Lydia Loveless – I can think of few albums that are as perfectly in touch with everything I look for in music: great songwriting, ferocious guitar licks, a sense of humor, a sense of rock history, that record-it-live feeling, and a voice. Goddamn does she have a voice. Whether she’s belting out “Well there were times when I was not there for you at all” in the opening track, and you know she’s not being hard enough on herself, or evoking tears with those subtle hints of a vibrato in EVERYTHING’S GONE, a song about saving her family’s farm, Loveless’ voice is at the forefront here. I’ve described her to friends as the daughter Paul Westerberg and Lucinda Williams never knew they had, and even then I think I’m selling her short. This is a perfect record from the most important new artist of the last decade.

2. BURN YOUR FIRE FOR NO WITNESS – Angel Olsen – Noise and heartbreak collide in a collection of songs so stark you’ll feel uncomfortable, as if you’re peeking through someone’s bedroom window, and they know you’re there, but they keep on doing whatever it is despite you, or perhaps to spite you.

3. BOXERS – Matthew Ryan – It’s been a while since Matt Ryan has rocked. And this record comes across as if the pent up energy finally exploded and he couldn’t hold it back any longer. This is buckets of Springsteen, The Replacements, and The Clash flung against the wall, their colors streaming together to create something fresh and new and vibrant. This is the record so many other rockers tried to make this year, failing miserably.

4. HERE AND NOWHERE ELSE – Cloud Nothings – For the longest time I was not going to put this record on this list because of how much I detested their live performance. But then I realized that wasn’t fair to the record, which was a damn great indie rock record with shades of Archers and the Mats running throughout. Buy the album, skip the show (unless you’re into a bunch of kids standing around looking at themselves as if they’re in their garage practicing).

5. BENJAMIN BOOKER – Benjamin Booker – This is such a nasty rock and roll record you’ll need a shower afterwards. Dirty is the word that comes to mind when I think of both his exquisite guitar playing and vocal delivery. Just so fucking good.

6. LET’S NOT BE FRIENDS – The Girls! – Everything about this record makes me smile. This is pure punk pop bliss. Great songs, great riffs, and a sexy sense of humor. And “Sophomore” is one of the best odes to sexual frustration I’ve heard in a long while.

7. METAMODERN SOUNDS IN COUNTRY MUSIC – Sturgill Simpson – This is Hank Williams country. This is Johnny Cash. Basically, there’s dark, and then there’s Simpson. “Woke up today and decided to kill my ego.” Fuck, man! Not always easy to listen to, but a great record.

8. SUKIERAE – Tweedy – This record feels like a long walk through your childhood neighborhood with an old friend. You talk, you laugh, you cry a little, all the while polishing off that sixer of Bud, ‘cause it’s the only thing your granddad had in the fridge.

9. HEIGH HO – Blake Mills – Really hard to describe, so let’s say noise alt-country pop. And if that doesn’t make you want to listen I don’t know why you’re reading my list in the first place. Every song is sort of a Pandora’s Box waiting to be opened.

OTHER GREAT ALBUMS:

THE BEST DAY – Thurston Moore

RIPS – Ex Hex

FAMOUS GRAVES – Cheap Girls

ENGLISH OCEANS – Drive-By Truckers

AND THE WAR CAME – Shakey Graves

PAINT ANOTHER LAYER ON MY HEART – Caleb Caudle

WORST ALBUM OF THE YEAR:

DISGRACELAND – The Orwells – After showing such amazing punk/pop/rock potential with their first album, The Orwells returned with an unlistenable collection of songs not even worthy of a B-side. It’s the laziest record of the year. As if they went into the studio with the mindset that David Letterman loves us and we can do no wrong. Well, you did wrong, boys. This record sucks.

BEST SONG OF THE YEAR:

MILE HIGH – Lydia Loveless – I don’t know any other way to say it: THIS IS A PERFECT SONG. It’s full of confusion and longing and wit. It’s feminine/masculine, it’s breathless. And it fucking rocks. It’s on endless repeat.

OTHER GREAT SONGS:

UNFUCKTHEWORLD – Angel Olsen – an ode to when everything perfect breaks. Her whisper gives me chills.

GOD’S NOT HERE TONIGHT – Matthew Ryan – This is the perfect anthem for this broken, fucked-up year. A BASTARDS OF YOUNG minus the hope.

MESMERIZE – The Girls! – Just a freakin’ great song. Nothing more need be said.

IT AIN’T ALL FLOWERS – Sturgill Simpson – You wake up in a strange room next to someone you’ve never seen before, stumble towards the bathroom, catch your reflection is a cracked mirror, what’s all that blood!   You drop to your knees, the room is spinning, and everything would be alright if you could just remember your fucking name. That’s this song.

BEST COVER SONG:

COME PICK ME UP – Superchunk – Mac and company take the classic Ryan Adams heartbreaker and rock it the fuck out. They make it theirs. And that’s saying a lot when the original is one of the great songs of all time.

BEST BOX SET/REISSUE/RECORD THAT DOESN’T FALL INTO ONE OF THE CATEGORIES ABOVE:

ALPHA MIKE FOXTROT: RARE TRACKS 1994-2014 – Wilco – A collection that makes you realize the scope and talent of this band. Beautifully packaged, with 77 tracks of outtakes and demos and live recordings. It’s like the Tweedy album, except this time your friend is telling you all these great secrets which make you grin from ear to ear.

BEST LIVE SHOW:

The Replacements – Midway Stadium , St. Paul, MN – What separated this show from the other 4 Mats concerts I’ve seen since the reunion was the emotion. It was a homecoming of rock and roll soldiers we all thought were long lost as war. They raised their guitars as high as the flag on Iwo Jima and showed us that their songs could never be defeated. And we were all a little teary eyed singing along with Paul to UNSATISFIED.

RUNNER UP:

Lydia Loveless – the Studio at Webster Hall – in any other year this show would have been number one. It was everything you could possibly want from a rock show: noisy one moment, a whisper the next, chaotic, frantic, full of surprises. Do not miss Lydia and company when they play your town in 2015. Because even compared to the reunited Mats, hers is the greatest rock band on the planet right now.

BEST NARRATIVE FILM:

IDA – directed by Paweł Pawlikowski – Quiet, haunting, and chillingly beautiful, this is a masterpiece of the sort Bergman might have made in the late 1950. A story of a young nun about to take her vows only to learn from her one living relative that she is Jewish. You will never forget this film.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM:

FINDING VIVIAN MAIER – directed by John Maloof & Charlie Siskel – a thrilling mystery that begins with a box of photo negatives bought at an auction and leads you through a life of a woman who was secretly one of the greatest photographers of our time. To everyone other than herself she was simply a nanny. Completely captivating.

BEST TV:

HOMELAND – Claire Danes and company came back from a horrible third season with a vengeance. This is edge of your seat, scream at the TV, need a stiff drink sort of drama. And while the ending was a slow burn, if was probably necessary after the wringer they put us through.

BOOKS OF THE YEAR:

DO NOT SELL AT ANY PRICE: THE WILD, OBSESSIVE HUNT FOR THE WORLD’S RAREST 78RPM RECORDS by Amanda Petrusich – More than just about old guys looking for 78s, it’s about obsession, about the history of American music, it’s about what drives us. I wish it were twice as long. Brilliant!

HOPE FOR FILM: FROM THE FRONT LINE OF THE INDEPENDENT CINEMA REVOLUTIONS by Ted Hope – a real-life in-the-trenches look at what it takes to make an independent feature. Trust me when I tell you, Hope knows what he’s talking about. Every filmmaker, every producer should read this book. You’ll learn more here than you will in any film class on the planet.

And that’s it. That’s enough. We’ve got a lot of great stuff coming up this year. A DOG NAMED GUCCI will be premiering shortly. And in January I’ll be announcing rock doc number four. Stay tuned. Come back for more. And please, never tell me to turn it down, ‘cause it ain’t loud enough.

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Filed under best movies, best music, Best Music of Year, best of, Uncategorized