Film and live music come together next week at the Brooks Museum of Art, which is hosting two screenings of the experimental feature Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then, both showings accompanied by live music from Brendan Canty (of D.C. punk legends Fugazi) and members of the band Bitter Tears.
The 71-minute film, which has already screened at venues ranging from the Museum of Modern Art to the Sundance Film Festival, tells the true story of Leonard Wood, a Kentucky man who responded to his wife's cancer diagnosis by forming the couple's house into a crazy-quilt-style "healing machine."
The gambit didn't save her, of course, but Wood kept working on the project for years after his wife's death, until poor health and age finally drove him from the home.
"The guy who bought the house knocked it down because it was the only house on the block that didn't look like every other house on the block," filmmaker Brent Green laments in an online preview of the film.
But in adapting the story, Green — who also directed, wrote, scored, animated, and narrated what is his first feature film — reconstructed the house on his own Pennsylvania property.
"I built a whole town in my backyard — five houses, a handmade working piano, a huge glowing moon, and a giant, wooden, fully functioning God," Green writes in his notes accompanying the preview trailer.
The film's blend of live-action stop-motion and handcrafted mise-en-scène inspired the Village Voice to label Green "an emerging Orson Welles of handmade experimental cinema."
The film will screen twice at the Brooks — at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. — on Thursday, June 9th, with Canty & Co. providing a live score using Theremin, cello, horns, and other sound effects.
The screenings are co-sponsored by Indie Memphis, which has illustrated how rewarding live musical accompaniment with a film screening can be with recent festival bookings of Boston's Alloy Orchestra, which provides live scores to silent-film classics.
Advance tickets for the Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then screenings are available through Wednesday, June 8th, and are $10 for Brooks and Indie Memphis members and $12 for nonmembers. Admission at the door on the night of the screenings will be $12 for members and $15 for nonmembers.
Roots-music fans can look forward to a couple of special shows at the Hi-Tone Café this week.
On Friday, June 3rd, English keyboardist Ian McLagan — a member of classic-rock bands the Small Faces and the Faces and a former sideman with the Rolling Stones — will return to town. Doors open at 9 p.m. with a $12 admission ($10 in advance) with local performer Richard James opening. McLagan will stick around for a "meet and greet" after the show.
Then, on Sunday, June 5th, the Memphis Blues Society will host a showcase concert at the Midtown club. The headliner is third-generation (at least) bluesman Michael Burks, who honed his craft at his father's Arkansas juke joint and turned to blues as a full-time career about a decade ago, releasing a string of acclaimed modern blues albums for the Alligator label, including 2001's made-in-Memphis Make It Rain. Filling out the bill are a couple of excellent but very different local acts: solo artist Valerie June, whose acoustic sound and idiosyncratic vocals put a personal spin on traditional music that touches on blues, folk, country, and gospel, and Vince Johnson & the Plantation All-Stars, an electric blues band that performs with grit and charisma. Doors open at 5 p.m. Admission is $10.