If you were paying close attention a couple of years ago, you might have heard a little bit about a hip hop documentary under production focusing in part on Fortuna-based rapper Franco Casasanta from The Dirty Rats. Director Sabrina Lee once lived here, but has since relocated to Montana. Her crew shot scenes locally including a Dirty Rats show at what was once Club West (now transformed into Aunty Mo's). Another portion of the doc was shot in Montana where a couple of other rural rappers were profiled.
The end product is now complete. Lee's 70-minute documentary, Where You From, debuted over the weekend at the Florida Film Festival. Check out the trailer at whereyoufromthefilm.com. Here's the word on the premiere:
Filmmaker Premieres Documentary About Rural Hip-hop in her Home State
Bozeman, MT. March 2, 2009 - It may be slightly ironic that Sabrina Lee grew up in Central Florida, moved to the West to find her passion, and now will see that "passion" premiering at the Florida Film Festival this spring. "Where You From," a documentary film, tells the story of three aspiring hip-hop musicians who live in rural America-- unlikely spawning grounds for hip-hop music. Yet for Lee, whose family spent years in Ocala raising horses and dogs, the rural countryside is a place where unlikely dreams are born.
The Florida Film Festival, which draws more than 25,000 people and will be held in Orlando, March 27 to April 5, is accredited by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and is widely recognized as identifying emerging filmmaking talent. First-time producer and director, Lee, is proud to be showcasing "Where You From" at the FFF."When I began this journey, I was not sure where we would arrive but wanted to tell the story regardless," Lee said. "Now, I am so excited to be sharing it with a large audience at such a well-respected festival,"says Lee. "Where You From" was also accepted into the 2009 Atlanta Film Festival. This year's documentary competition line-up in Atlanta includes a number of award-winning films from prestigious festivals such as Sundance and Tribeca.
The movie was inspired back in 2005, when Lee saw a hand-painted sign that said "Hip-Hop Show" in a cow pasture in rural Humboldt County, Calif. Lee attended the show held in a local breakfast café, and was overwhelmed by the talent as well as the engaged audience. Three years in the making, the feature-length documentary follows a beat far from the urban streets. With dense redwood forests, Rocky Mountain vistas, and the dramatic rhythms of hip-hop as a backdrop, the movie tells the stories of young men confronting small-town life, broken families, and drug addiction-- ultimately seeking triumph in their music.
Lee believes a common misperception is that hip-hop is purely a reflection of commercial rap culture, but the artists in Humboldt defied that logic. Lee says, "For the individuals portrayed in the film, hip-hop is not at all about the image, but rather the poetry," Lee said. "They are telling honest stories about their lives and their experiences, and at the same time making intense music."
Despite anything you may have heard, there was never a doubt that Reggae Rising will take place on the Dimmick Ranch on the first weekend in August 2009 (that's July 31-Aug. 2).
So, what's the deal? First, ticket prices are down. "Early bird" price is $99 for the weekend with a $7.50 service charge -- $1 from that goes to the County Line Foundation, a nonprofit set up by the Dimmick Ranch that will fund various yet unnamed community organizations. Once again, VIP upgrades are available as are an array of camping deals.
The line-up? Confirmed performers include German reggae star Gentleman with the Far East Band, The Original Wailers with Al Anderson and Junior Marvin, Marcia Griffiths from the I-Threes, British reggae faves Aswad, Prezident Brown and The Solid Foundation Band w/ some unnamed special guest, former Solid Foundation drummer Andrew Diamond with his own band, Jamaican expat singer/Nyabinghi drummer Ras Michael, and Bobby T and the Magic Voyagers, a blues/reggae band from Washington D.C.
If you've been keeping an eye on things, you know (via last week's press release from the Ranch) that Carol Bruno is not producing the show this time around. Rumors were flying about who is doing the booking. None that I heard or read was true. The booker is none other than Junior Murvin, guitarist for The Original Wailers. An educated guess says SoHum dancehall singer Luna Angel may end up on the show since Junior is her uncle.
Update: Word comes from the Ranch that Junior is not alone in booking the show, rather he's part of "an international team," whose other members remain unnamed. Also, ticket sales will go live as soon as they figure out the new-fangled shopping cart on the revamped website.
For nearly four years now, just about every day of the workweek, I've walked once or twice or more past the little white house that is Skidmore's Barber Shop on south G Street. If it was in the afternoons, Mr. Skidmore himself usually would be in there trimming up some gentleman's often already tight mane, getting that annoying tickle off the top of the ears, and they'd be laughing and talking. Sometimes he'd look up and see me walk by, and we'd do the simul-wave and smile.
Now, I'm sure there are Arcatans who've been walking past Skid's shop for decades, and who actually knew him. And I know there is family that cherished him. I didn't know Skid -- but I sure liked him. And his signs, handwritten in tall black-felt letters on a white board he'd prop in the window: Closed For A Few Days, Out Sick. Gone On Wife's Vacation. Gone Fishing, Back In Ten Days. I don't remember them all, or even their exact wording, but they always made me smile, or sigh and worry, and -- either way -- look forward to when that rectangle of glass was free again and tall, good-cheer Skid was again standing at the barber's chair snipping at some gent's head.
But when he placed the Closed For A Long While sign in the window many months ago, and signed it, it felt like a bad sign. Like he wasn't certain he'd be back. And he won't be: The Times-Standard reports that Mr. Glen Ira Skidmore has just plain Gone Away. Heavy, heavy sigh.
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