Edit: official site URL corrected (6/15/07)
The buzz has really started to build (see some of my fellow bloggers) on this new doc by Gene Graham on co-founder of legendary disco independent West End Records, philanthropist, Paradise Garage backer and all-around disco pioneer, Mel Cheren.. In more recent years, the publishing of his autobiography "Keep On Dancin': My Life And The Paradise Garage," the relaunching of West End as an active label and his ongoing philanthropic efforts have done a great deal to solidify his legacy and contributions to disco and beyond.. Although I haven't actually posted any West End material yet, I'm a big fan of their output. Being one of the few disco independents still at it today; out of respect for them, so far I've taken their personal appeals for listeners not to file-share to heart, and besides, they offer much of their classic and current catalogue as digital downloads on their site anyway. So needless to say, in light of all that, I've been a little hesitant to post any of their material on here.
As a child, one of my earliest and fondest disco memories was dancing my lil' butt off to Karen Young's "Hot Shot" and trying (badly) to imitate those explosive, kick-ass ad-libs of hers.. I absolutely couldn't get enough of that song! Later on, I'd become familiar with much more of their excellent output, especially through their Larry Levan releases: "Classic West End Records Remixes" (1999, West End) and "Live At The Paradise Garage" (2000, West End/Strut). Those two sets in particular, were and still are very special to me, having played a huge part in my serious introduction to disco.. Perhaps one of these days I'll do a much more in-depth appreciation post about West End. As far as the documentary itself goes, here's an excerpt from one of the press releases out there:
The Godfather of Disco is a feature-length documentary based on Mel Cheren's powerful autobiography, My Life and the Paradise Garage: Keep On Dancin'.I'm not sure if this'll come up here to Canada anytime soon (or anywhere near me, for that matter), but so far it seems to have gotten some high praise from audiences and critics alike since it's premiere at the 2007 Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival, where Gene Graham won the Emerging Filmmakers Award and more recently at NewFest, the New York LGBT Film Festival.. Currently making the rounds on the festival circuit, the doc includes interviews from figures like Vince Montana, Jr.; Louie Vega, Louis Benedetti, Barbara Tucker, Kevin Hedge, Ultra Naté, Randy Jones and Junior Vasquez, just to name-drop a few of them..
Through a series of interviews with a who's who of the dance music community, The Godfather of Disco (G.O.D.) follows the arc of Mel's life to examine the early 70s musical and cultural currents that gave birth to disco; West End Records' contribution to that scene; and the rise of the Paradise Garage.
From that cultural heyday, the film then charts the onslaught of HIV/AIDS, its impact on New York City, and Mel's heroic efforts in the face of an epidemic through his work for Gay Men's Health Crisis and 24hrs for Life/LIFEbeat.
Mel has been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale. And, rest assured, he still does it all today. The Godfather of Disco makes a compelling case for how one's man's musical vision and AIDS activism helped push gay sensibilities into the greater culture--and how our world is better for it.
Pioneer. Activist. Survivor. Mel Cheren is The Godfather of Disco.
Anyway, this is definitely one documentary that I've got to see sometime.. Hopefully "Godfather of Disco" will be making it to a festival near you. Either way, even if it doesn't, there should be a DVD release to follow..
In the mean time, check out the trailer below for a little preview:
Godfather of Disco Trailer
Uploaded by pepsounds
If you still want to see more, check out the official website www.thegodfatherofdiscodoc.com (link corrected) for further video previews, press reviews and screening information..
For further info on Mel Cheren, check out his bio at the West End Records website..
PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
DEEP CUTS (APRIL 18, 2007)
NEWSWIRE: "GODFATHER OF DISCO" PRESS-RELEASE
SFWEEKLY.COM: LIFE AFTER DARK - MEL CHEREN'S ETERNAL DANCEFLOOR (BY TAMARA PALMER) (WEDNESDAY JUNE 13, 2007)
GODFATHER OF DISCO @ FRAMELINE31 (SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL LGBT FILM FESTIVAL)
GODFATHER OF DISCO OFFICIAL SITE
WEST END RECORDS/MEL CHEREN INTERVIEW @ DISCO-DISCO.COM
MEL CHEREN INTERVIEW @ UNDAGROUND ARCHIVES
WEST END RECORDS
NEWFEST 2007 BLOG: FILMMAKER INTERVIEWS - GENE GRAHAM
GENE GRAHAM ONLINE
CATEGORIES: DISCO NEWS, VISUAL DISCO