Sunday, 20 June 2010

FILM REVIEW: Thunder Soul

Thunder Soul, Edinburgh International Film Festival 2010
Fri 18 June 20.20 Cineworld
Sat 19 June 15.45 Cineworld

The Kashmere Stage Band formed in a predominantly black high school in Kashmere, Texas in 1969 under the direction of Conrad O Johnson, known to the kids as 'Prof'. Just as African-Americans had emerged out of the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s, they saw the 70s as their time to shine, to pay homage to the generation that made opportunities possible - like the opportunity to be in a first class band so extraordinary that, although composed of teens, wins best stage band in America two years in a row. This is their story, told 35 years later for the purpose of reforming as a tribute to a frail, 92-year-old Prof.

The reunion is heart-warming and full of emotion as every member travels from across the world back to the very same band room where they escaped to so long ago, away from the streets and away from trouble and into the hands of Prof - a man who taught the fatherless to be a men and became a patriarchal figure to the entire group. The resulting sound is a phenomenal mix of funk led jazz, every work created by Prof and recorded onto LPs that are best-selling collector's items today. The group's success took them to unimaginable places, first beating all white bands across America, and then accepting invites to be treated as bonafide artists across Europe and Japan, lighting up every stage they danced across.

The reunion is a spiritual time as they dust off untouched trombones and stroll misty-eyed down memory lane, and this documentary captures unfathomable events that will move every single viewer, fans of soul and funk or not. (Kelly Rae Smith)

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