As the old saying goes, nothing is sacred. This is especially true in art, and music in particular, where musicians blend influences and styles in an increasingly complex meld of sounds and cultural signifiers. The Internet and its vast array of musical platforms has only served to bring this melting pot to a more intense boil, where a 16-year-old in Beirut can draw from the same catalog as his teenage counterpart in Indianapolis.
With this in mind, the concept of a Caucasian musician from California transforming into a mariachi singer while serving a stint in prison for robbery proves plausible. This is the storyline behind Mateo, a documentary in Indy Film Fest’s Rock + Reel series, which showcases works about music and is screened in front of audiences at The White Rabbit Cabaret.
In the years since Matthew Stoneman emerged from prison, he has established a cult following in the United States and Japan as a “gringo mariachi” performer. Mateo, the debut film from director Aaron Naar, follows Stoneman as he attempts to record his first album while living in Havana, Cuba. In the film, Stoneman is depicted as one having a complex personality and whose checkered past and vices threaten to derail his success as a musician. As evidence, listen to Stoneman and Naar’s interview on WNYC’s Soundcheck podcast from earlier this summer.
In short, don’t miss this flick if you have ever wondered what Ry Cooder’s career might’ve looked like if he never left Cuba after working with Buena Vista Social Club.
After attending the screening of Pulp: A Film about Life, Death & Supermarkets, the kickoff of Rock + Reel, I can attest that the experience of watching a movie about music on a stage and sound system worthy of Indy’s finest independent musicians and touring acts is an opportunity worth seizing. Prior to each screening, attendees are treated to music curated by Musical Family Tree’s Jon Rogers, as well as complementary snacks. The staff at White Rabbit also tailors the drink specials to reflect themes from the movie, which is an awesome touch. Tickets for Mateo are free, but space is limited. Watch the clip below, and register for the screening via Eventbrite.
Here’s a clip from Mateo that shows the highs and lows of being a gringo mariachi:
Written by Rob Peoni
Memphis four-piece Big Star belongs in the pantheon of 1970s rock gods. A new documentary featuring never-before-seen footage and photos of the band, in-depth interviews and a musical tribute by the bands they inspired is slated for release later this year. Drew DeNicola and Oliva Mori directed Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me. DeNicola is no stranger to the rock doc. He is the brains behind the ongoing documentary project Natural Soul Brother: The Original Black Radio DJs. DeNicola is also the editor behind VICE’s video arm, VBS.tv.
BIG STAR: NOTHING CAN HURT ME traces the origins and history of the legendary band from the late sixties with lead singer Alex Chilton sky-rocketing to stardom at the age of sixteen with The Box Tops and their #1 hit, “The Letter” to the serendipitous meeting of Chilton and local Memphis singer-songwriter-guitarist, Chris Bell; through the tumultuous recording of the group’s three landmark albums, #1 Record, Radio City and Third/Sister Lovers (Ardent Records); culminating with their implosion due to failed record sales, personal breakdowns and the tragic death of Chris Bell in 1978.
Written by Rob Peoni
To put it mildly, I have been head over heels for Jessie Baylin since the release of her free Pleasure Center EP in late November. The EP, of mostly covers, has been a weekly listen and my go-to before bed spin. January 17th will serve as the release date for her full length album Little Spark. My guess is that you won’t find Baylin gaining much coverage across the indie blogosphere. Her pop music upbringing and marriage to Kings of Leon drummer Nathan Followill make her too un-hip for the likes of Pitchfork. This is an outright shame, because Little Spark has the potential to contend for one of the top releases of the first half of 2012.
Baylin reached out to some seriously talented folks to add their touch to the album. Richard Swift, of The Shins, served as multi-instrumentalist and played an integral role in Little Spark‘s arrangements. (Pleasure Center EP was recorded in a single day on a four-track in Baylin’s living room, with Swift at the helm.) Legendary composer and three-time Grammy winner Jimmie Haskell played the role of conductor, while Kevin Augunus rounded out the squad as producer. Augunus has worked with a wide range of artists from Sinead O’Connor to Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. Watch the trailer for the album below, and prepare yourself for one of the pleasant surprises of 2012.
For a limited time, Amazon is offering a FREE DOWNLOAD of the track “Hurry Hurry.” Stream below.
Written by Rob Peoni