• K.C. Fennessy

This past Monday, the Northwest Film Forum screened two new music films with all three directors and two of the subjects in attendance. The first was Doug Plummer's seven-minute All Ages Music & Arts, part of Folklife's Northwest Stories series, and the second was Pat Thomas and Kathy Wolf's 20-minute, self-produced Have You Ever Had a Beard? (read Grant's preview here).

Plummer's film focuses specifically on The Vera Project and The Olympia All Ages Project and features performances from Lemolo, Kid Sister, KnowMads, and Calvin Johnson's Hive Dwellers (click here to watch it on YouTube).

Olympia stalwart Johnson returns in Beard, for which he performs ("Get In") and converses with Seattle critic and publicist Chris Estey, who reads excerpts from his zine-generated essay "Phil Ochs' Greatest Hits," now permanently anthologized in Da Capo's Best Music Writing 2011 (since then, the series has become an independently published effort after a successful Kickstarter campaign).

More pictures, screening dates, and other information below.

Disclosure: I'm friends with Thomas, Wolf, Estey, and NWFF program director Adam Sekuler. I introduced Pat to Adam when he and Kathy were looking for venues at which to screen the film.

  • K.C. Fennessy

Johnson, Thomas, Plummer, Sekuler, and Estey. Thomas is also the author of the book Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power, 1965–1975 on Fantagraphics and the compiler of the accompanying soundtrack on Light in the Attic Records, where he works in A&R (Dave Segal profiled the project here).

  • K.C. Fennessy

Wolf, Thomas, and Sekuler. Wolf is a screenwriter and graphic designer. During the Q&A, she mentioned that she edited the film down from an hour's worth of material, but didn't plan to expand it at the present time, a wise decision, since I doubt it would be as funny at a longer length (and it got laughs in all the right places). Since it also cost around $200 to make, I'll assume that camera operator Kristian St. Clair, the director of 2006's This Is Gary McFarland, donated his services. Kristian is now working on a documentary about Jack Nitzsche.

  • K.C. Fennessy

Group hug. Yes, Calvin is wearing rain boots. Clearly, he's visited Seattle a time or two. I've actually met him a few times in the past, but decided not to ask whether he remembered me or not. He used to drop by on occasion with K Records merchandise when I worked at Cellophane Square, and he also came up to the station for interviews when I worked at KCMU. I remember two instances in particular: once with Heavenly and once with Fugazi. Interviewing Johnson, Ian MacKaye, and the rest of that gang was one of the highlights of my radio career.

  • K.C. Fennessy

Adam has the best cardigans, Chris has the best hats. Both...have beards.

  • K.C. Fennessy

Calvin played a solo acoustic set after the Q&A. The guitar, he said, was a gift from his father. Later, his brother informed him that it had been a wedding present from his mother to his father in 1954. He found it strange that the guitar still housed the original receipt, but now he knows what she paid for it: $30.00.

  • K.C. Fennessy

I'm not the biggest fan of solo sets, but this one was pretty great. I guess it helps if you're already into Beat Happening, Dub Narcotic Sound System, and/or the Halo Benders, and I am (I asked about a Beat Happening reunion when I interviewed Bret Lunsford for Seattle Sound in 2008, and he said there were no plans in the works, but that he wouldn't rule it out). In his introduction, Thomas admitted that he didn't pay much attention to Beat Happening during their heyday, but that a performance from Johnson at last year's Folklife made an impression. Johnson's baritone voice, he said, reminded him of Fred Neil.

  • K.C. Fennessy

The next screening of Have You Ever Had a Beard? takes place at Olympia's Capitol Theater on Sat., March 17. Thomas, Wolf, and Johnson will be on hand for a Q&A, followed by a performance from the Hive Dwellers. Ticket info here.