ST. GEORGE — Dixie State University Docutah International Documentary Film Festival is offering a very special treat for filmgoers. On May 26, Docutah presents a screening of the documentary “Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone” followed by a live concert with Fishbone, including opportunities to meet the band.
- Update: Salt Lake City Ska band The Gringos will play a live set in the Electric Theater before the film screening at 5:30 p.m.
Eight years ago, Docutah brought something edgy and new to what was then a much smaller St. George and a budding documentary film festival: a documentary about a punk rock band from South Central Los Angeles, accompanied by a performance by the band. Now that film – and the band – returns to Docutah and St. George for a screening and live concert at The Electric Theater.
Phil Tuckett, assistant professor of Digital Film at Dixie State University and executive director and founder of Docutah, had the following to say about the original screening, as well as the upcoming one:
That first year, 2010, the Festival was two weeks long and ‘Everyday Sunshine’ wound up on a Sunday – not the best day to show a film in St. George. As luck would have it, then, just as now, Chris Metzler, the co-producer/director, called me to say that Fishbone would be performing in Las Vegas the night before. We went into high gear to arrange it, so we could show the film and have the band come up for what we expected to be a Q&A. I decided that we should just see if they would perform. They said yes, and we were on our way. It is pure serendipity that Fishbone is playing in Las Vegas on May 25 and can come up to St. George May 26 once again to play after the film.
Critical praise for “Everyday Sunshine” is nearly universal. In 2018 the film was on a list published by Business Insider of The 50 Best Documentaries of All Time.
The film has been described as, “a career retrospective of Fishbone, an all African-American rock band from Los Angeles who created a high energy blend of funk, metal, ska, and punk and experienced a career as chaotic and unique as the music they created.”
A mixing melting pot
When Fishbone emerged in the 1980s, America’s melting pot was being stirred by a mosh-pit of disenfranchised youth confronted with lingering racial and economic issues left unresolved by previous generations. Ronald Reagan’s “New Morning in America” had a polarizing effect on the social welfare and progressive movements of the 1960s, reordering a hopeful generation into a social majority geared more towards Wall Street than the dwindling imaginations of the counterculture and the aging Civil Rights movement.
“My co-producer/director, Lev Anderson, suggested this film as an interesting story – a story of more than a band, but almost a movement,” Metzler said. “He went over history and what struck me was that they are African American rock musicians who play all these different kinds of music. They were at ease switching back and forth between speedy Metal guitar riffs, horn infused Ska, and smooth riding P-Funk grooves with a language of subversive politics and redemptive church choir-like vocals.”
But Metzler went on to say that even that doesn’t fully encapsulate the band.
“They are also a bi-product of desegregation in Los Angeles in the late 1970s. They were five black kids bussed to school from the predominately black communities of South Central to the suburbs of the San Fernando Valley as part of the controversial desegregation efforts of the time. But, then the fans embraced the music and made it their own based around their mutual love of music.”
In Los Angeles, where the American dream and Hollywood fantasies collide with the realities of racial and economic tension, there was a widening gulf between Rodeo Drive and Crenshaw Boulevard, the emergence of designer boutiques and crack cocaine and the violent rise of the Crips and Bloods street gangs.
Fishbone was born from these chaotic contradictions and constantly searched for common ground between their rock star ambitions and the realities of being black in America.
At the heart of the film’s story are lead singer Angelo Moore and bassist Norwood Fisher, who show how they keep the band rolling out of pride, desperation and love for their art.
“It is a testament to the talent of these musicians that they started out in 1979 in junior high in one of their bedrooms and 25 years later, they are still going,” Metzler said. “They fought to overcome money woes, family strife, and the strain of being aging punk rockers on the road. They keep on making their music and are brimming with creativity. As filmmakers that is something that we wanted to show.”
Even if viewers have seen the film before, the proximity of their story to their performance made that first appearance at Docutah so mind-blowing, which is why Docutah is so excited to bring these two art forms together again. According to a press release from Docutah, this evening is more than a movie, more than a concert. The two together are a living, breathing expression of their art, of their lives, of their passion and their dedication to what they’ve chosen to do with their lives. And they are just so cool.
“We always wanted Docutah to offer our audience something unique – a window on the world, a global experience in the high desert, never sugar coated or censored, allowing the filmmakers to express their vision of the people and topics they cover,” Tuckett said. “There is no doubt that ‘Everyday Sunshine’ fulfills all of those criteria, and bringing both the film and the band back – now that Docutah has grown and succeeded – it seemed the perfect time to honor the film and the band which helped to put us on the map. This experience is not happening at Sundance, not happening in Cannes. If you want to understand how Docutah is different from your garden variety film festival, this event is a pretty good example.”
Advanced tickets reservations are required and can be made online. Ticket packages that include a meet-and-greet with Fishbone prior to the screening and concert are $30. Tickets for the film screening and concert only are $20. All tickets are paid by cash or check only at the door.
The meet-and-greet will take place at 5 p.m. with the film screening following at 6 p.m. and the concert at 7:30 p.m.
• S P O N S O R E D C O N T E N T •
- What: Docutah presents a screening of the documentary “Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone” followed by a live concert with Fishbone.
- When: Saturday, May 26 | 5 p.m. meet-and-greet with Fishbone | 5:30 p.m. The Gringos live set| 6 p.m. film screening | 7:30 p.m. concert.
- Where: Electric Theater Center, 68 E. Tabernacle, St. George.
- Cost: All events, $30; film and concert only, $20.
- Reserve tickets: Advanced reservations are required. Pay tickets cash or check at the door.