Tag: Stage band

Thunder Soul

August 19th, 2011 — 1:00am


Thunder Soul – sp- This is a true story destined to be an American legend. An all black 1970’s Texas High School stage band with a music director, who could have been a professional musician but chose to teach and use music to change young people’s lives, becomes the “best band in the land.” They introduce the rhythms of funk music along with great body movements by the band as they present their powerful sound. They win all kinds of competitions and trophies including the coveted band competition in Alabama. They get invited to play in Europe and Japan where they received acclaim on a par with professional musicians. 30 plus years later filmmaker Mark Landsman is listening to NPR and hears the story of this band and decides he might want to make a documentary about them. He visits the now retired leader Conrad O. Johnson, known as Prof, in Houston and convinces him to tell his story as he constructs a documentary about that historical time in the history of of Kashmere High School and this band. Much to his surprise, he then learns that some of the old band members are planning a surprise reunion concert for old Prof who has had failing health. The film becomes about these now older band members who return to prepare for this get together all with heartfelt stories about how the Prof and the band had been so meaningful to them. There are film clips of the 1970s with many of the band members in full Afros and the band with its full rich sound. These mostly guys and some gals are older, wiser, larger but still remember how to play as they are whipped into musical shape by one of the members who has taken on the leadership role for the reunion concert. The views of the musicians now in their 50s along with the wonderful sound which they can still make is captured quite well. In fact the background soundtrack throughout, even when the band is not seen playing, sets the mood and the joy of the film. There are some wonderful clips of Prof as a younger man and now as his once young charges have returned to pay tribute to him. Jamie Foxx loved the film idea and took on the role of Executive Producer. We only wish that Landsman had chosen to tell us a little more about how the returnees had been impacted by their experience, which they all agreed, had changed their lives. Had any of them become professional musicians? Had they passed on this great musical experience to their children? While we suggested to Landsman that it would be great to see a little of this info in the credits, he felt that it was mainly about the music and the personal stories were secondary. He did drop the tidbit that he is working on a fictional version for a feature film, which I am sure, will be a great opportunity to fill in the blanks in this great story. (2011) 

Comment » | 3 Stars, Documentary, Musical

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