Thursday, May 31, 2012

I found out this morning from an email my cousin sent out last night about 10:30pm that my Mother Gena Bouquet had left to the Other Side 2 hours before... Wed. May 30th, about 8:30 pm (of course, i feel a phone call around that time might have been nice... regardless...) According to the Tibetan Calendar, She left on Guru Rinpoche Day, one of her favorite Guides... His Mantra is one of her favorite mantras as well, i recall: Om Ah Hum Benza Guru Pema Siddhi Hum We can all do that mantra when we think of her "Bliss-Permeated Spirit" Merging w/the Bright Light of Great Spirit... Or Buddha Amitabha's mantra, Om Amee Dewah Hri (or as i like to say, "Om Mommy Dewa Hri!" And/Or any Hindu Mantra like "Om Namah ShivayAH" Or Self-Relization Chants that i grew up with, like "Oh God Beautiful/Hey Hari Sundara!"... "Cloud Colored Christ Come"... Sufi Songs (sorry i don't have them memorized)... SHE is SO Eclectic-= ! =- (& re; these images... although i did not "know" when she was actually leaving her body w/my "conceptual mind," after moving an RV all day- which i have to admit helped take my mind off of the anxiety of not being there physically next to her... And there is the photo i took of her last fall w/her holding the sketch of Hopi Elder Grandfather Martin [who fortunately came to be with her once more last Sunday!]... And Last BUT not Least- a photo i shot yesterday of the RV and is it just me... OR Is That Ah Rainbow-Clown-Angel Gena Flying Ah-Round to Guide US on Our Physical RV Journey as She is getting ready for her Meta-Physical Journey? Oh My Goddess-=~!~=-Jai Ma!)
Well, as i've been telling people recently (among many other stories), i remember that when she went to Ganeshpuri, India 3 or 4 decades ago go be w/Baba Muktinanda... She had her astrology done by an Indian astrologer, who told her that she would live to be 86 years in this lifetime... I guess that is what she programmed her"self" for, as she just turned 86 Summers last month! Merge With the Bright Light in Every Bardo Now, My Earthly Divine Mother, My Ananda Moya-MA/Bliss-Permeated Mother, Mother, Grand-Mother, Great Grand-Mother, Gena Bouquet -= ~!~ =- Your Love-In Son, Sunny

Monday, March 19, 2012


WOW! Almost TWO Years Since My Last Post! Guess I've Been Busy... W/Survival Mostly... Can AnyONE Else Relate-=~?~=- OK! Time to get going again, published in newsprint or... NOT!
Hmmm... last weekend was a pretty busy one w/doing the Yucca Valley Swap Meet for the 1st time in ah couple/​few years, (Love It!) moving storage, praying for Freedom for Tibet on the 53rd anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising... BUT How Did I Miss the One Year Anniversary of A.S. Owsley's "Transition-of-Inching-His-Way-Thru-De​ad-Dreams-To-Ah-nother-Land?" What Ah Long Strange Trip It's Been Bear, Thanks, Gratefully, to You-=~!~=- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/​Owsley_Stanley

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Swirled Beat w/Sunny Sun-Downer April 1, 2010g.c. (No Foolin'!)



With the Controversy of “Dear Dad” Resolved, Bob Marley’s Son Ky-Mani Embarks on Book-Signing Tour

When I met Bob-Marley’s 2nd youngest son, Ky-Mani at the soundboard of West Hollywood’s House of Blues some dozen years ago, we exchanged very few words, but I felt a humble “Air of Nobility” from this “Prince of Jamaican Royalty.” In an interesting “Opposite Parallel Universe” kind of way, I compare his life to that of Shakyamuni Buddha, in that Buddha, before he became one, was Prince Siddhartha, an heir to the throne of the Shakya Clan of India. His father King Suddhodana, did everything he could to keep his son content with all the delights of the senses and to keep him from seeing the suffering of the world outside the palace walls, which backfired when he escaped and renounced “the world” taking on the life of a wandering yogi to eventually attain Buddha-hood while sitting under the Bodhi Tree.
At that time I had no idea I was meeting someone who’d lived that, in the sense that while most of his dozen brothers and sisters had a life of comfort in Jamaica due to their father’s music industry wealth, he was an “outcast,” taken at age nine by his mother, table tennis champion Anita Belnavis, to the Miami inner-city where they lived in poverty, sharing a two-room apartment with eight others of her family. It was here in the ghettos of Miami that Ky-Mani survived his experience of gangs, drug dealing and violence. It was here that he also developed the attitude that all people are equal- that no one is above or below him, and that same attitude has become the motto of the way he lives his life today: “Humble. Soft-Spoken. Sincere. Loyal. Honest. Genuine” (as stated on one of his websites).It has only been more recently in his life, by “pulling him-self up by the boot-straps” that he is experiencing the long overdue wealth of his birth-right.
His legendary father Bob Marley’s message of Equality, Justice and “One Love” for all Humanity is definitely being carried on and spreading world-wide even further through his off-spring, many of whom have won Grammies in the Reggae and Hip-Hop categories. At first, Ky-Mani had no interest in following in his musically-famous father’s footsteps, devoting his developing skill to sports. As a teenager he tried dee-jaying and rapping, but returned to focusing on sports, until, at age 20 those inherent “seeds” of his blood-line were caused to sprout and an album of covers of some of his dad’s music, “Like Father, Like Son” soon emerged. Then, in 1997 he collaborated with Pras of the Hip-Hop group The Fugees to cover Eddy Grant’s hit “Electric Avenue,” and the spark of his father’s legacy within was set ablaze, setting off a fire-storm of song-writing over the subsequent years. His 1999 album “The Journey” received critical acclaim, achieving relatively good sales, but his 2001 album “Many More Roads” was nominated for a Grammy Award, only to lose to his brother, Damian “Junior Gong” Marley’s album “Halfway Tree.” He is featured in a wide variety of collaborations, including Young Buck’s “Buck the World” on a track called “Puff, Puff, Pass,” Afu-Ra’s song “Equality” on “Body of Life Force” and Ms. Dynamite’s “A Little Deeper.” These are just the tip of the “I and Ice-berg” as just typing his name into a search on Youtube.com brings a seemingly endless choice of Ky-Mani collaborations!
He is also quite the accomplished actor. In 2002, Ky-mani starred as the character Kassa in the film “One Love,” a compelling love story of a “conch-us” reggae musician dealing with the corruptions of the industry. After he meets a church girl with an angelic voice, (played by Cherine Anderson, who has recently recorded and toured with Michael Franti and Spearhead for their “All Rebel Rockers” album) they end up drastically transforming each other’s lives, ending in a heart-opening finish. (I found that you can watch this intriguing film on Youtube for free, albeit in 10 segments). He played the role of John the Baptist in the film “Haven” that stars Bill Paxton and Orlando Bloom, directed by Frank Flowers. He later starred opposite acclaimed Reggae Artist Spragga Benz in the film “Shottas,” a captivating story of two young men from Jamaica struggling to reach their dreams through living life in the "fast lane". This film and its sequel created a tremendous buzz upon being released by Sony Pictures in 2007. He also played himself in the BET J television series, “Living the Life of Marley” in 2004.
Incorporating world music, hip-hop, blues, rock and a “grass-roots” sound into his music, he transcends the label of “Reggae Artist.” Still, with the unmistakable Marley-esque raw, gruff sound of his voice in songs such as “Dear Dad”, “I Pray”, “Ghetto Soldier” and “Fist full of Dollars,” Ky-mani conveys his true life experience that intones Peace, One Love, Unity, Street Life and pays homage to his Jamaican Culture and Heritage.
Now, what of this controversy that the title of this article refers to? He recently tried to delay the release of his new book, "Dear Dad: Where's the Family in Our Family, Today?" after realizing it could upset his relatives, but the tome hit shelves in February, to mark what would have been his father's 65th birthday. The book's cover boasted it contains the "story the Marley family apparently didn't want you to know," referring to his being shunned by the Marley estate early on in his life. But he took issue with that quote, which placed him at odds with his publishing firm over the claim, but on February 16, his editor Farrah Gray agreed to pull the tagline from the second edition. It is currently ranked the #1 Reggae bestseller in the world and ranks in the top 10 Celebrity memoirs, according to Amazon.com. Ky-Mani has now spoken out about the controversy surrounding the expose. In a post on his MySpace page, he writes, "The book was not an attack on my family. I love my brothers and sisters more than anyone can know."
When asked in a recent interview what his early life was like he said, “I speak it now proudly, but when I was younger I was a little bitter, knowing my legacy and where I was coming from and knowing that my condition in which I was being raised was unfit. But yet it’s a part of my life; I can look back on it and really appreciate it because it molded me as a human being, it built my character, it gave me meaning towards life, it gave me understanding for people in the gutter, for people in the forest and for people in the palace, so I don’t regret that any one bit.
In the same interview, he defended his use of cannabis as a sacrament and advertising a related herbal product on his Myspace site: “You see some people smoke marijuana and say ‘We’re going to get high, we’re going to have a nice time’; that is not for me. This is for meditation, for spiritual up-liftment, for a clear mind, to see the world and to see people for who they are and what they are. My thing is not to go smoke and get high and get nice. I smoke to put me in a meditative state, so I can relate to people in the most natural way and form possible…” The ad for “Herbal Balance.com? ”It does exactly what it says: balance the herb. This is a pill that if you look at it, everything in it is organic- there is nothing that is manufactured, everything is from a root and is organic. What this herbal supplement does is it prevents you from getting the munchies. It gives you a more natural sensation from the herb, it replenishes the fluids in your joints because of course when you are smoking you’re taking in the smoke and it dries out the fluids so it keeps your joints nicely moist. It’s a good thing. Rastafari.” Kymani comes to L.A. for his book-signing on April 30, 7pm at Barnes & Noble, The Grove at Farmers Market. (323) 525-0270

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The (1st) Swirled Beat- Gil Scott-Heron


The “Swirled Beat” by Sunny Sun-Downer (as it appears in the March 18th issue of the Desert Valley Star- also viewable at www.desertvalleystar.com
(I’ve chosen to name this new DVS/AFJ music column after a show I did on community-sponsored radio back in the 80’s, that mainly featured “world beat” music such as Reggae, African, Jazz-Rock and the Roots of “Conchus” Hip-Hop/Rap. It therefore seems quite appropriate to start it out featuring the “Father of Spoken Word-Neo Soul,” Gil Scott-Heron)

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (and Neither Will the Coachella Festival!)

Gil Scott-Heron is one of my heroes for speaking out in his unique musical style, against the oppression of “the establishment” ever since my “formative years” in high school in the early 70’s.
He was born on April 1 (no fooling!), 1949 to Bobbie Scott-Heron, who sang with the New York Oratorical Society. His father, Giles “Gil” Heron was of Jamaican descent and was nick-named “The Black Arrow”- famous in the soccer world as the first black athlete to play for Scotland’s Glasgow Celtic Football Club.
Gil is an American Poet, musician and author who formed his first music group, “Black and Blues” with Brooklyn-based musician Brian Jackson. He ploughed the way for future artists of the “spoken word soul performance” genre with his early recordings such as 1971’s “Pieces of a Man” and 1974’s “Winter in America.” This new musical style that they pioneered was a combination of jazz, blues and soul music with lyrics that addressed the social and political issues of the time, conveyed in a “rapping” and “melismatic” or “melodic embellishment” style. An All Music Guide (now Allmusic) critic recently wrote of his influence, “Scott-Heron’s unique proto-rap style influenced a generation of hip-hop artists.”
In his younger years, he admired the spoken-word-blues-poet Langston Hughes and followed in his footsteps by enrolling in Lincoln University in PA. At age 20 he finished his first novel, “The Vulture,” which was an auspicious beginning, as it was called “a strong start for a writer with important things to say.” At the same time he’d written his first book of poetry, “Small Talk at 125th and Lenox,” which later became the name of his first record album. As he was emerging in the early 70’s there was a profound shift occurring, as the struggle for civil rights was giving way to the demand for “Black Power.” The civil rights movement had lost its focus, as it was ripped apart by internal competing factions, while its leaders were silenced by bullets and jail. Black popular music of the time reflected what was going on politically, and it started to focus less on the civil rights theme of “brotherhood” as it got more aggressive. Leading the attack was this young, articulate, and enraged “soul brother,” Gil Scott-Heron, who was said to have started fusing the free form jazz of John Coltrane with the revolution-stoking speeches of Malcolm X.
His music is often associated with “Black Militant” activism and he’s received much critical acclaim for his hallmark song attacking oppression and media-domination of Americans, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” It caught my attention from the first listen with such lyrics as: “Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and women will not care if Dick finally gets down with Jane on (the soap opera) Search for Tomorrow, because Black people will be in the street looking for a brighter day… The revolution will not be televised.”
From a highly-recommended series of videos available for free on Youtube called, “Originals: Gil Scott-Heron” comes this quote from Gil regarding black people: “Watching television was not going to accomplish anything. The change that was going to take place was going to take place in their minds.”
He then went on to record 12 albums for Arista Records in the 80’s, followed by a 12 year break from recording, though he still toured. He then signed to TVT Records in 1993 and released his album called, “Spirits,” with the first track, “Message to the Messengers” being a criticism of rap music artists of the day direct from the “Godfather of Rap,” that urged them to take responsibility for their art and in their communities; To speak for change rather than perpetuate the current social situation, and to be more artistic and articulate. He later said in an interview about rap artists:
“They need to study music. I played in several bands before I began my career as a poet. There’s a big difference between putting words over some music, and blending those same words into the music. There’s not a lot of humor. They use a lot of slang and colloquialisms, and you don’t really see inside the person. Instead, you just get a lot of posturing.”
Like too many artists, he too had a battle with drug addiction, and has spent time in prison for the “crime” of cocaine possession, which personally makes me sick. It’s indicative of another social ill in our dysfunctional society, because drug addiction needs to be treated as a disease and a health issue, not a criminal issue. This all-the-more shows the need to speak out with the words from the poet, against a system of separate-ness and non-equality.
Since then, he’s returned to play to sell-out crowds all over the world, performing at major festivals in England and the United States, including New York’s Central Park. Just as occurred with Leonard Cohen, another “Father” of the Spoken Word genre, playing to thousands at last year’s Coachella Music Festival, we have a chance to see this Living Legend in the flesh, this April 18 at the same venue, a couple of weeks after he turns 71 years young! (…and it won’t be televised- at least not live!)
His influence is seen popping up all over, and by chance I just happened upon a mention of the “Revolution being televised” at the beginning of a video on Youtube called “Beautiful,” by Bob Marley’s youngest son, Grammy Award-Winner Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley. Now, speaking of these artists following in Gil’s footsteps, I met a wonderful spoken word artist who performed at the recent celebration of the Legend Bob Marley, the “Raggamuffins Festival” in Long Beach (and if you missed it, do not fail to put it on your calendar for next February!) Sufia Giza’s newest CD called “Sankofa Times,” not only honors Mr. Scott-Heron in her song, “Armchair Revolutionaries” but also the afore-mentioned poet Hughes in “Langston’s Blues” where she intones “Hughes sang the blues, So that We wouldn’t have to…” Her call to “remember the past, but move into the future” via her inspirationally-positive poetry is laid down over some hard-driving roots reggae background music with seasoned professionals such as my old friends Carlton “Santa” Davis, the drummer from the Peter Tosh Band, among others, and Lesterfari, from the early days of L.A. reggae with bands like the Third I Band and Matuzelum. Please check out her dance-able “conchus lyrics” at www.unityworksmusic.com and www.myspace.com/sufiagiza
-Sunny Sun-Downer can be reached at conchustimes@yahoo.com and his articles for the DVS/AFJ are archived at www.conchustimes.blogspot.com

Thursday, February 25, 2010

EVARO @ HAALOS DHS 2-26-10gc!





EVARO FAMILY BAND @ HAALOS
HEALING ARTS CENTER, DESERT HOT SPRINGS

HAALOS: Healing Arts Aromatherapy Loving-Kindness & Organic Solutions
Benefit Concert w/Higher Heights-Be Jah! One Year Anniversary Celebration!


Friday, February 26th, 2010(gregorian calendar) 8:30pm- ?
B.Y.O.Libation/Love & Dancing Feet!
A suggested (min.) $10.80 donation will be lovingly accepted!
(There is a "No Dress Code" enforced)

HAALOS Healing Arts Center in the “Downtown-Oldtown Vortex Construction Zone” of Desert Hot Springs
12078 Palm Dr., DHS 92240 (near Pierson- parking in back)
More info: conchustimes@yahoo.com or call: 760-673-7580 909-800-1711
One Love- A ConchUs Times Production

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Celebrating the Roots of the Bob Marley Family Tree






"Reggae in California" poster from 1985g.c. by Laguna Beach CA/Sawdust Festival artist Brett Keast


The Stream of Conch-Us-ness with Sunny Sun-Downer (the "Un-edited Version" [only the part about the "Cave in Nepal" was cut out this time!] of the article published in the Feb. 11, 2010g.c. issue of the Desert Valley Star... Yes I En-Joy! -=0=-)
You have definitely been living in a “cave” for the past five or so decades if you have not heard of the Jamaican Legend Bob Marley and his band the Wailers’ music- and that would have to be a cave even farther out in the Himalayan Mountains than I was at in Nepal in the 1980’s, because that’s where and when I was surprised to find how far that his music had spread. He and his fellow Jamaican musicians’ spiritually-charged and revolutionary reggae music that calls for true equality, justice and freedom from oppression for all “Jah Children,” gained that kind of universal acceptance from its message of the spiritual one-love and human rights saddled with that infectious reggae rhythm, which Bob once called the “rhythm of the jungle.”
When he left us at the age of 36 in 1981, his fans were devastated to have his physical form taken from them at the height of his career, and there have always been the conspiracy theories in reggae circles that his fast-spreading brain cancer was planted by the CIA when he was hospitalized for a soccer-caused foot injury- “assassinated” as was Martin Luther King, for starting to unite the third world countries, and this from their fear that he would ignite a “revolution against the controlling powers that be.” What is true is that he and his band, the Wailers, were about to embark on a world tour with Stevie Wonder, and his message of revolution would have been heard world-wide.
As it is, his message has spread world-wide, just without the impact of the man physically imparting it for the past 29 years. Three years after his “Journey back to Zion,” a compilation album of his music titled “Legend” (released in 1984) is still reggae music’s best-selling album, going 10 times “Platinum” (or “Diamond”) in the U.S., and selling 20 million copies worldwide.
Also, not to mention, is his musical message being carried on not only by untold musicians performing his music, but by his off-spring as well. Bob’s religious tendency was Rastafari, and the Rastafarians take the Book of Genesis as gospel- as it said to “go forth and multiply,” he took the advice seriously, creating at least ten amazingly-talented children with his wife, Rita (one of his original “I-Threes” back up singers) and his various lovers. They are Cedella (named after Bob’s mother), David “Ziggy,” Stephen, Robert “Robbie,” Rohan, Karen, Julian, Ky-mani, Damian and Makeda. While Ziggy, accompanied by his brothers and sisters as “The Melody Makers,” turned on a whole new generation to the experience of their father’s musical and spiritual experience beginning in the mid 80’s, it was Damian who amazed people later, combining the styles of reggae and hip-hop. He is nick-named “Junior Gong,” after his father’s early nick-name, “Tuff Gong.” Bob’s nick-name became the name of a record label formed by the Wailers in 1970, which was in turn an echo of that nick-name given to the founder of the Rastafarian movement, Leonard “The Gong” Howell. While Stephen has won five Grammies, Ziggy and his Melody Makers four, Damian has won three. (Detailed bios of the Marley family, along with a plethora of info on Bob and his music are available at www.bobmarley.com).
Just about 29 years ago, Bob would ad-lib some lyrics to Curtis Mayfield’s song “Keep On Movin’:” “Tell Ziggy I’m fine, and to keep the dollar in line, ‘Cause we’re soon to move now, We are…” He would then sing the chorus line “Lord, I got to keep on movin, yeah, where I can’t be found…” at a sound check for a Wailers concert, singing that line over and over for about twenty minutes, bringing tears to the eyes of his band, as they knew it was his way of saying goodbye to his musical/spiritual family.
It was at about this same time that a group of reggae-lovers in Los Angeles decided to honor Bob’s Legacy with grass-roots produced reggae concerts they would offer to the people for free, called “Bob Marley Day.” I’ll always hold in my fondest memories, some of my friends from Laguna Beach, in bands aptly titled the “Friends Band,” “Jack Miller & the International Reggae All Stars,” and the “Rebel Rockers” (with dynamic performers that included Barbara Paige and Princess Morton who recorded with some of the Wailers, and Tony Chin and Fully Fullwood of the Soul Syndicate and Peter Tosh’s band, among others) playing at some of these early tributes at the Westwood Federal Building, come rain or shine.
So, it’s been quite a long haul for this dedicated (or, as the Rasta’s call it: “live-a-cated”) group to keep the tribute going over the decades, and the transformation from the old “Bob Marley Day” celebrations to the more recent “Ragga Muffins Festival” has been quite amazing to witness. Now these concerts that still honor (in every way except in name, for the inevitable legal reasons) Robert Nesta Marley in the month of his birth, end up selling out in their huge Long Beach and Oakland venues.
In this year’s Ragga Muffins Festival at the Long Beach Arena on Saturday, February 20th and Sunday the 21st, the musical line up with many LIVING LEGEND Reggae Stars is nothing short of “STELLAR.” Because of space limitations with this article, I must ask the reader to do some “home work” on the internet to find out the impact that these legends have made on World Music- unless of course you know what I mean when I give you names like Don Carlos, Frankie Paul, Yellowman, Big Youth, Barrington Levy, Gregory Isaacs, The Mighty Diamonds, Capleton, Cocoa Tea… Other performers of note are Shaggy, Gramps Morgan, Bajah & the Dry Eye Crew, the Mystic Roots Band, Yellow Wall Dub Squad, Taurus Riley, Alborosie, Konshens, David Kirton, the Lions, and Detour Posse, w/more to be announced! And of course, many of you desert-dwellers may have caught the reggae group “The Aggrolites” (performing on Sunday) “crucially moshing it up inna yard-style” at the Coachella Festival last year (and please know that the term “moshing it up,” that “reefers” to a “hard-driving dance beat” came from Jamaica long before the punkers adopted it into their physically harmful version!).
The concert’s doors open at 12 noon and you are going to want to get there early, as the festival offers “North America’s largest International Food and Crafts Fair!” Also, this “Family-Friendly Event” offers free admission to children 12 and under (when accompanied by a paid adult), and the kids-oriented activity space of the “What About the Children? Foundation” has become a welcome annual tradition, with its storytellers, face painting and other enriching activities. Ticket prices are a reasonable $38- to $60- (plus applicable service charges) and are available by phone at (800) 745-3000 or online at www.ticketmaster.com and for more information you can call the Ragga Muffins Festival hotline at (310) 515-3322 or go to raggamuffinsfestival.com and myspace.com/raggamuffinsfestival
On the local front, don’t miss the combined celebration of Bob Marley’s and all other Aquarius (or “Aquari-I”) birthdays AND the HAALOS Healing Arts Center’s One Year Anniversary in the “Vortex Construction Zone” of Desert Hot Springs, on Bob’s actual birthday, Sat., Feb. 6, 8pm on, with a live “open mic reggae jam,” dancing, refreshments and fun! (12078 Palm Dr., DHS 92240)
-Sunny Sun-Downer can be contacted at conchustimes@yahoo.com and his articles for the Desert Valley Star are archived at www.conchustimes.blogspot.com as well as www.desertvalleystar.com

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Over the Hill Band Film Review


(The unedited version [which adds a couple of quite ah-muse-ing paragraphs at the end] of the article I just wrote for the current Desert Valley Star -=0=-)
The Over the Hill Band (Meisjes)
Film Review by Sunny Sun-Downer
The U.S. Premiere of the hit Belgian film “The Over the Hill Band” debuts as a “World Cinema Now Gala Screening” at the P.S. International Film Festival on Saturday evening, January 16 at 7 pm, with director Geoffrey Enthoven (The Only One) expected to attend, as well as lead actors Marilou Mermans, Jan van Looveren and Lea Couzin.
Also called, “Meisjes” (Dutch for “Girlfriends”) this film is hailed as in the tradition of “sassy social comedies” such as last year’s (Canne’s Critic Week Award Winner) Moscow, Belgium and plays like a combination of the British Calendar Girls and Young at Heart. (It is no coincidence then that one of the screenwriters of this film was Jean-Claude van Rijckeghem of Moscow, Belgium fame).
This charming comic drama is a “coming-of-old-age” story about a classy woman who rediscovers life and love before it’s almost too late. Recently widowed Claire (played magnificently by Marilou Mermans) seeks to resolve the issues between her and her two sons, Michel (Lucas van den Eynde) and Alex (Jan van Looveren)- issues that were not addressed while her husband was alive. While Michael is a successful businessman, Alex- who prefers to be called “Sid,” is a failed and frustrated R & B/Hip Hop musician who blames part of his failure on the lack of parental support, which he accuses all went to Michel. Admitting to herself that Sid was the child she loved most "in her gut", but that she had indeed paid more attention to Michel out of guilt-driven compensation to hide the fact, Claire decides to use the last of her money and her remaining years to support Sid's musical quest to finally grant him his long overdue share of affection. The manner in which she chooses to “heal the wound” leads to the great entertainment that is bestowed on the viewer of this delightful comedy. She flashes back to her teenage years singing in a band with her girlfriends Magda (Lea Couzin) and Lutgard (Lut Tomsin) as the popular trio, "The Sisters of Love" and then decides that as backup singers they can help Sid form a band and convinces her “girlfriends” to come out of retirement. Sid thinks it’s the most ridiculous idea he’s ever heard, but because he needs money so badly he reluctantly agrees to join his mother and her crazy friends. But he does so on one condition ... they will play HIS kind of music!
You get the feeling from the opening scene where Claire’s husband is chiding her for humming to herself, that his demise was going to be a blessing for her- in that it would release her of the repressive nature of his attitude toward life, which might allow her to rediscover hers- especially in creating an opening in the strained relationship with her son Alex (Sid). After all, wasn’t it her husband who found no worth in Sid’s musical ambitions? The film also questions the age-old traditional pattern of wives giving up their lives and dreams for their husbands. It also brings into focus our imminent sunset of old age and death. Watching Claire come to the realization of how she has unfairly treated her son Sid and how she can right it, and then observing how she gradually "loses her marbles" and experiences "butterflies in her head"-are heartfelt jewels within the unfolding whimsy.
By recognizing their mutual love for music, Claire and Sid slowly grow closer. But all is not rosy in her plan of action. As Sid and the re-incarnated “Sisters” form the new group and prepare for a battle of the bands, Claire’s older son, the “buttoned down” Michel attempts to intervene. He believes Sid is using their mother and taking advantage of her, and the two even come to blows over the issue. The band must overcome such nay-sayers as well as their age, doubts and insecurities to put on the show of their lives!
The “Sisters of Love” become reinvented as the “Over the Hill Band” with a play-list that ranges from the hip-hop anthem, “Pump Up the Jam” to a “pimped-out” version of Wallace Collection’s “Daydream.” You can’t help but laugh whole-heartedly as these elderly timeless performers get back in touch with their “inner vixen,” as Claire intones, "When I look in the mirror, I wonder who the old bat is that I can see. Because underneath this old skin, I'm still 17. That's how I feel."
Jan van Looveren transforms from a disheveled, unattractive and un-likeable Sid to the kid you can't help but like. Lut Tomsin also shines as the crotchety youth choir-director who learns to get a buzz off the bass. In one especially hilarious scene she mouths the lyrics to sexually-suggestive hip-hop music, while filling her shopping basket with rap CDs. And the mirthful, fun-spirited Lea Couzin earns a point for defending Jacques Brel as God.
From Director Enthoven’s daily writings of the shoot, comes this revelation- “Lut, Magda and Claire are singing the famous Jaques Brel song ‘Ne me quitte pas,’ accompanied by a church organ. Sid enters the church carrying a ghetto blaster boom box. The loud introduction of “his” music comes with vivid, shameless body movements- totally absorbed by the music. The confrontation between R & B-macho Sid and the three ladies ‘of a certain age,’ is the soul of our comedy. Sid’s song ‘Big Dick Jones’ has been composed by lyricist Pascal Garnier, who was so embarrassed by the juicy lyrics that he wrote the texts while his family was sleeping!” (Pascal Garnier and Stef Caers wrote the swinging R & B versions of the classic pop tunes featured in the film).
Well, if we have the “sex” and the “rock n’ roll,” let’s not forget the “drugs!” Also from Enthoven’s writings, “What a day! We’re shooting a scene with 10 actors. Sid’s lighting a joint, and passes it to Magda and Claire, who take a puff. Neither of them have smoked before, so it’s difficult for them to act this out in a convincing way. It took me a lot of pain to quit smoking nine years ago, and now I’m the one who has to show them how to inhale. Very tricky! But I’m a pro- I’ll do anything for the film!”
The film’s closing sequence is a thought-provoking merging of senile and cinematic fantasies with an unexpected twist. Northernstars’, Maurie Alioff says that while this film is mainstream fare, it’s also "the kind of movie festival-goers embrace for its feel-good vibe." Writing for the Montreal Gazette, John Griffin describes it as "funny, ribald, touching and inspirational comedy" and advises: "Take your pointers where you may, but this genuinely appealing tale does suggest that life is short. Live every day to the max." After receiving a standing ovation at the 28th International Film Festival of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Grand Prix Hydro-Quebec, the jury lauded the film for its "clear style and ability to subtly narrate a serene view on death."
Also, Juniors are warned that at the Palm Springs screenings, the Senior Demographic there might become a bit unruly while watching this film!
The Over the Hill Band screens once on Saturday, Jan. 16 at 7pm and once Sunday, Jan. 17 at 4:30pm.
For more info contact the Palm Springs International Film Festival at www.psfilmfest.org or call 760-778-8979