Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Thunder Soul

Listen to the song Kash Register below and you'll hear a great funk track from the 70's Kashmere Stage Band.

When you realize the musicians are a bunch of high school kids from the poor side of town, you understand what inspired director Mark Landson to make the documentary, Thunder Soul.

Conrad B. Johnson, the high school music director for the Kashmere players set high expectations for his students.   They went on to win the country's top band honours, toured Europe and then Japan. 

30 some years later circumstances converged to bring the documentary filmmaker into town to interview Conrad B. Johnson at the same time a group of the Kashmere musicians were returning to pay their tributes.

The documentary focuses on the band members as they practise and perform a concert for Conrad's 92nd birthday.   Just two days after their performance, Conrad died.  Which is three years to this very day, when the film was screened in Toronto.

Yes, it felt like Conrad was "in the house" tonight.

Mark Landson says it often felt as though there were a higher hand at work in the forces that brought them all together to make the documentary.  One of the biggest being that well after shooting and in the editing suite, when they were stuck with trying to figure out how they'd animate old black and white photos in place of historic footage, they discovered someone who'd captured scenes on 16mm film back in the day.  Now, on-camera interviews are interwoven with the found footage.

Great movie, great music, great moments.