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Sand Shark says "Monday Nights are for Indie Films"

January 10, 2014

Monday night I attended the indie film, “Muscle Shoals”. In fact, every Monday night at 7pm, you too can tantalize your heart with an endearing, with a thought provoking, with a joyful or hope-instilling or ambition-creating or tear-jerking, magical, passionate, adventure-ridden artistry of film-- at the USCB Center for the Arts. It is but one of those gifts of the educational experience and discovery here in Beaufort SC: whether as a local, a visitor, or most especially: a USCB student.

indie film

Films often have a natural way of triggering memories and recognition within us all, and "Muscle Shoals" did nothing short of that for me:

Growing up on the water here in Beaufort SC, my father always warned me not to tell my secrets on the rivers, he told me: water carries every sound-- and because of how that sound carries I would consequently have no more secrets...

It’s the magical things people discover about their town that makes it home to the heart: the subtle nuances, the bellowing beauties, and the mystical tales and rhythms that emit themselves through the time that passes. All the while these towns: all over our state, all over our nation, all over our world-- offer us something in common: an education. An education of some kind or another. Yet, my hope remains that the education learned may be like the one that has long been emerging out of Muscle Shoals, Alabama: one of inquiry, one of discovery, one of unity, and one of permeating resonance.

I don’t believe we ever really expect a movie experience to whisk us away from the place of the theater: the red chairs, the dimming room, the presence of each person amidst you… yet how easy have you found yourself living in the moments- created by what your eyes have been more than entranced upon  but  pulled  and  morphed  into as the world you are suddenly inside and apart of? It’s all too often -- and then again, maybe not often enough. Not often enough that a creation is more than entertaining, more than evoking, but altogether: a portal into another world.

This is the experience you may be submerged into at USCB Center for the Arts: “the only place to see indie films in Beaufort” …has “selected a wide range of movies from comedies, dramas, documentaries.  These movies have world wide acclaim, winning many film festivals.” …and indeed they prove to win our hearts too.

What exactly are indie films otherwise termed independent films? “The definition of what constitutes an independent film, or indie film, still needs to be clarified, although it usually means a film made outside of the established studio system, also known as the ‘mainstream’ professional circuit, by a little-known director who is working on a shoestring budget. Independent films, often with unconventional plots and characters…is in many ways the Holy Grail in the film business - something most everyone who makes movies strives for but can never quite attain. To be independent in the film business denotes a freedom from something, whether the vicissitudes of the commercial market or the matrix of companies that dominate the production and distribution of motion pictures in America.” --Cine Collage Production

 As I entered the building to attend my first indie film here at USCB Center for the Arts, I enjoyed the entire ambiance of the “movie-going” experience: everything from the ticket purchasing to the hustle of the growing chorus of voices excited for this evening outing. This particular movie theater endeavor was a classy one indeed, with free cups of popcorn, wine or other beverages of choice to sip on, and of course my personal favorite-- delightful ushers, not to mention unassigned seats. Unassigned seating always is a pleasure to myself-- particularly if you arrive early, there is simply something about claiming your territory in a theater… I suppose it gives you, a sort of, flicker of pride.

The night was kindly kicked off with what I like to call “people sightings”--although I must confess my ears “sighted” Mayor Keyserling first. His bold laughter echoing, I turned curious as to “Could that be the Mayor I hear?” and undeniably it was. He and his party navigated behind me and we officially and grandly met. I was then greeted by other regular “indie film- goers” who took seats to the left of my own, in which I had to remark “we have the best seats in the house!” and naturally she could not agree more (see!-- pride in our seat attainment!!). My row companion asked, given the nature of the film we were embarking upon, if we were going to dance tonight, to which I replied to her: “OF course we are!-- were you not at Black Violin?!!!” I was of course noting the memorable violin group who visited Beaufort and had officially transformed the USCB Center for the Arts auditorium permanently in my mind to a dance hall.

As the lighting dimmed and the previews played I heard “hmmm!!!”s and “oh really?!”s and “huh!!!”s in response to new indie films to come. I immediately realized this quaint audience had its number of truly dedicated watchers. Then came the moment we all had waited for:

"Muscle Shoals".

"Muscle Shoals", I had previously read, was a documentary film created about a recording studio founded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Yet this one sentence description does not nearly do justice to the story’s magnitude.

Locals (ranging of Native American to that of Appalachian Mountain People Heritages) and visitors (ranging from Jamaica, the UK, the segregated US South, and the integrating US North) ALIKE --told the becoming, the discovery, the adventure of humanity, unity, musicality, and new life from a world and time created by Muscle Shoals.

If you were not entranced by sitting with artists: Steve Windwood (Traffic), Bono (U2), Aretha Franklin (thee Aretha Franklin!), Mick Jagger (Rolling Stones), Keith Richards (Rolling Stones), Percy Sledge (R&B and Soul Singer), Clarence Carter (Blues & Soul Singer), Donna Godchaux (Grateful Dead), Alicia Keys (R&B Singer), and more, you were certainly entranced by learning what you did not know. Entrancing was the learning about Rick Hall’s life (founder of the FAME studio), about the “Swampers” and just how “funky and greezy” they were, and learning what fun-jiving archive footage has been stowed away and just what it has captured and reveals to us about true moments of history. (define: swampers)

Each person in this film spoke of so much more than a place and time: they spoke of an energy and a prevailing truth that ruptured from the earth beneath the running water that carried it. Bono confesses of Muscle Shoals, “It's like the songs come out of the mud…” as each artist who entered the small town and the simple studio came out with a top selling hit: feeding the peoples music craving souls and revolutionizing the music world.

Donna Godchaux goes on to capture with her words the same surprise and thrill you feel in every moment from merely watching the film: “You never knew when you were making history”!

Muscle Shoals moment by moment became more magical in the journey of this film, and moment by moment our world became more magical because of Muscle Shoals. The aforementioned "Swampers" birthed by the town of Muscle Shoals, also known as the back-up band for generations of music: covering genres A to Z, can be heard honored in the immortal lyrics of “Sweet Home Alabama.” ...

You may also know magical Muscle Shoals as the birth place of Helen Keller, a woman who could not see or hear, but who’s first word was: water!!!  --And it was the water of Muscle Shoals in which she learned the word. By the touch and taste of the same water that paints the visually beautiful land of Muscle Shoals and the same running water that has long been said to carry song, Hellen Keller came to know: water.

It is no mistake that this independent film carries itself. A story that fuses into every crevice of our life, no matter what our age, color, or creed. I highly recommend a night of "Muscle Shoals" and another night to attend another indie film at USCB Center for the Arts.

Catch the "Muscle Shoal" vibe:

Yours Truly: Sand Shark Fed by the Film and Moved by the Music,

                                                                                                                Erin Dailey