The Holy Modal Rounders: Bound to Lose - Dec. 12, 2007
Last night, I went to see the documentary, The Holy Modal Rounders: Bound to Lose, which has been playing throughout the week at Anthology Film Archives in New York.
Before the feature began, co-director Paul Lovelace talked a little about how the week’s been going. He said that every night has been totally different. He then introduced the comedy short, President Nixon's Inaugural Address 1969 directed by Kevin Rafferty, mentioning that it wasn’t directly related to his feature, but Anthology Film Archives archivist Andrew Lampert showed it to him a few months earlier, and they thought it would be fun to show. The short contained film footage of protesters, mini wrestlers and naked people skiing and running over audio of Richard Nixon’s 1969 address.
Immediately following the short, the feature began. The Holy Modal Rounders: Bound to Lose follows folk/psychedelic rock band Holy Modal Rounders, founded by Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber. The duo along with a revolving door of other band mates including actor Sam Shepard, began strumming guitars and howling lyrics in the mid-1960s in New York’s East Village. They’re cult following turned into a momentary bout of national fame when one of their songs was included on the Dennis Hopper film Easy Rider. A few years of concert tours and drug use ensued until the band went on a nearly 20-year hiatus. Stampfel and Weber eventually reunited and on their 40th anniversary, Weber went into seclusion and was never heard from again.
At the conclusion of the film, I spoke with Lovelace and his fiancé Jessica Wolfson, who answered some questions about the genesis of the documentary. Lovelace said this was his first feature collaboration with Sam Wainwright Douglas. He initially saw Stampfel play with the band Yo La Tengo in 1999. Producer Francis Hatch came up with the idea to make a documentary on Holy Modal. The film was entirely self-funded. Lovelace said he would take editing jobs, and when they ended, would go on unemployment. Altogether, the documentary was shot over a period of five years, and editing was finished this year.
Next on Lovelace’s and Wolfson’s slate is a documentary on radio DJ Bob Fass, who also grew to fame in the ’60s by interviewing icons such as Bob Dylan and Abby Hoffman. I asked Wolfson why she and Lovelace were drawn to this era and the East Village scene so much. She replied that her parents were hippies and it was a really interesting time. Plus, they are so influenced by the history of New York. She said it’s sad that all these influential people are dying out, and they are fortunate to meet and know some of them.
After, the crowd moved to Parkside Lounge for live music from the Muscular Christians. Among the caravan were Wolfson’s NYU chums and filmmakers/film bloggers Michael Tully (Silver Jew) and AJ Schnack (Kurt Cobain About a Son).
BTW, tonight is your last chance to catch The Holy Modal Rounders: Bound to Lose at Anthology. Band co-founder Peter Stampfel will introduce the film along with Gary Lucas. Rare Holy Modal music videos will also be screened. After the screening, more live music will take place, this time at Bowery Poetry Club with a rare performance by the legendary Du-Tels (Peter Stampfel/Gary Lucas).
And finally, for those of you who couldn’t make it to Anthology, The Holy Modal Rounders: Bound to Lose will be available on DVD with lots of extras beginning next week.