October 26th, 2006
in issue 0543 of the HooK. - By VIJITH ASSAR
It seems that finishing up Live From... The Hook would be a big enough task for producer Andy Herz if the production schedule were taken at face value-- after all, he's been working on it for six months, and projects of this magnitude aren't usually put to bed without a fight.
Unfortunately for him, other people have been working on it-- in one form or another, most of the time without realizing it-- for over 20 years.
The crew he assembled to put together the documentary on '80s Charlottesville rock bands will likely subsist entirely on Vivarin and Red Bull between 2am on October 21-- when the doors closed on the Starr Hill reunion show for Virginia rock forefathers Captain Tunes and his Fabulous Noteguns-- and 8pm on October 28, when the film premieres at the Paramount Theater as part of the Virginia Film Festival.
"It's definitely a work in progress," says Herz. "There will still be some polishing and probably some final interviews to do after the 28th."
Director Joe Grafmuller has a pretty focused to-do list: "The biggest thing I'd like to have is Dave Matthews himself in the film," he says. "We have Boyd Tinsley so far, but we're still working on the details of trying to get Dave or Carter or LeRoi or Stefan. Since day one, we've been actively trying to get more of them involved."
Grafmuller is also interested in adding more footage of throwback rockers like the Michael Guthrie Band and the Charlottesville Blues All-Stars as well as contemporary junkyard heroes American Dumpster.
But overall, he's quite content with the way things stand;."Other than Matthews, we've sort of covered all the bases," he says. "I'm very pleased with it."
Herz, however, sees one more problem: "The greater challenge is that we have enough material for a six-hour movie, but it's only a 60-70 minute piece."
Grafmuller counters: "That's a good problem. Having more material is always a good thing."
But it's a very real concern for a project that's taken shape with the spirit of the community it profiles snowballing behind it.
"I've noticed the enthusiasm build each time we've filmed," says Grafmuller, who flies in from California for shoots. He recalls reconnecting with some old friends from decades past while filming Grateful Dead cover band Alligator at Fridays After Five.
Strengthening those bonds has been one of the most rewarding parts of the experience for Herz. "I think the most amazing thing about this project has been how many people it has reconnected," he says. "Between the website and the Yahoo! group and the sneak previews we did in Charlottesville and Arlington, it feels like about 500 people have gathered around to reminisce and relive how great the music was. Quite a few friendships that were extraordinarily important a generation ago have been rekindled in an incredible way."
That's why it's such a problem when the cup runneth over with great footage.
"People have to figure out how to live with some of our good friends ending up on the cutting room floor," says Herz. "When somebody gets cut, it's painful."
While most 1980s Charlottesville rock enthusiasts are nervously awaiting the premier, wondering whether they'll make the final cut, two in particular are positive they'll see significant screen time: the film focuses on Bob Girard and Charlie Pastorfield, two local musicians who've been around the block in a number of different bands over the past few decades.
Pastorfield is perhaps best known as a member of the Skip Castro Band, and Girard for his Johnny Sportcoat stage persona.
"They were open and forthcoming from the very beginning," Grafmuller told the Hook back in August. And though their honesty has served the project well, it's a little unsettling for Girard.
"I haven't had time to stop and even think about what it will be like to be in the Paramount in the evening on the 28th. I think I'll be nervous," he says. "It was really okay for me for years to be somebody else on stage, to be Johnny Sportcoat or Captain Tunes, because that meant I was protecting myself. Now I'm not. That's going to be kind of a weird feeling. It's not going to be me posing as somebody else."
Pastorfield may be feeling the same butterflies, but he's more philosophical.
"It's an interesting ebb and flow of human beings, wandering out in their own ways over time. That's a very human story, that's the story that's told in movies all the time," he says. "It's going to be a snapshot of a city in a 30-year time period, but it's a story that would appeal to a lot of people."