Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Gift To All Rush Fans...The Movie....Rush:Beyond The Lighted Stage

The documentary movie, "Rush:Beyond The Lighted Stage" is a gift that keeps on giving. (sorry for the cliche). This movie is really a gift from the Rock group "Rush" to all its fans-from the past, present and future. The band that has been around for more than 40 years and has more than its shares of ups and downs in the world of rock and roll and in their own personal lives.

The reason that the movie is a gift from Rush is because they did not have to allow the filmmakers into their private lives to make a documentary about the rock band's history and their unconventional rise to fame and glory. But they did it for their fans. It's for all those middle-age men with greying hair who are located around the world. But they did allow it to be made. That's the most important thing. Rush fans have been peg by critics as white, middle-aged men in their 40's and 50's with greying hair who hold down steady jobs probably with families. I would even dare to say that some of these fans are grandfathers. And believe it or not there are women Rush fans out there too.

I can attest to this because my son and I made our way down to Nashville, Tenn., for the first showing of the movie at The Belcourt Theater near Vanderbilt University on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. June 15th. Naturally, we got lost in Nashville and turned around but finally we found our way to the theater. When we arrived there was a long line that outside the building and it curve around the corner onto another street. I thought, "Oh crap, we'll never get a seat." However, when we got inside, there was plenty of seating. There were some other men with their sons and maybe even their grandsons too. We found the perfects seats while my son went to the concessions stand to grab us a couple of cold drinks. While we were waiting in line outside, I observed the typical Rush fan and what he looked like. Like I said, most of us were white and looked about my age 48 years-old with greying hair and wearing glasses. Some of us had big bellies or smaller bellies (If you're lucky). I saw very few Rush fans with long hair these days. Most of us were dressed in casual clothes. I would say most of us had jobs or careers and probably had some sort of higher education. (I just assuming now from my journalistic observations). Also, a Rush fan walked toward the back of the line where we were standing and offered a free ticket to another Rush fan. I would say most Rush fans are kind and polite towards one of another and have a generous free spirit of giving like Rush musicians themselves, Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart. After the movie, I observe the Rush fan who received the free ticket thank the other Rush fan who gave him the ticket in the men's restroom. Now, isn't that in the giving spirit of Rush shining through here?

Too me, I was just totally enthralled and entertained throughout the movie. It starts from the beginning days of Rush in Toronto, Canada, where the trio....Geddy Lee, Bass, Alex Lifeson, Lead Guitar and Neil Peart, Drums, all grew up. Geddy and Alex were raised in the suburbs of Toronto and Neil grew up on a farm outside of Toronto. The film shows footage of Alex and Geddy while they were in high school and Alex quit high school to play music. I'm not sure about Geddy quiting school. I didn't catch that if he did. The movie also shows interviews with all three band member's parents which I thought was very touching. Geddy parents were Jewish prisoner death camp survivors from World War II and Alex parents where Yugoslavian immigrants. Neal parents owned a parts store where he worked as a teenager. The original drummer John Rutsey had to be replaced because of health reasons and that's when they brought Neil into the picture.

Probably, the one thing that intrigued me the most about the film was how Rush decided to be just themselves and independent of everyone else on the rock scene at the time during the early and later years of the 1970's. They produced these abstract, conceptual albums like "Caress Of Steel," "2112" and "Hemispheres" against all the odds of their record label but they were able to survive and remain themselves. They didn't change. I think that's the one thing that appealed to me when I first heard the band in the Fall of 1976 when my friend Donald Dillingham brought the "2112" album over to my dad's lake house in North Mississippi, was the band's really cool and freaky sound. When he put it on and we were just blow away by it. I had never heard anything like it before in my young life. Rush's music appealled to the psychics of our little minds. At the time, we were feeling like outcasts living in our own little worlds by our own choosing. Rush took us took us to a different world like the other rock groups did, but in a different way than Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath. It was a mental escapism with the combination of their music and some of mind altering substance which I quit using years ago. I won't say which one. I'm sure a lot of middle-age men had the same experiences with Rush as I have had when they were first introduced to the band.

And movie goes on to show concert footage when they toured with bands like Kiss and Thin Lizzy just to name a few. The movie shows how Rush evolved to eventually to become the main headliner band on the scene at the time. And then they hit the big time with the album, "Moving Pictures" in 1981 where had such mega hits as "Tom Sawyer" and "Limelight" which was being played on rock stations all over the world, over and over again. This was the heyday of Rush when they filling concert halls and arena all over the world. But they still do filled these halls and arenas to this day! As a side note, I saw Rush in concert four times. It was the one band that I saw more times in concert than anyone else.

Probably, the saddest part of the movie, is when it explains the tragedy that about Neil's daughter getting killed in a car accident and then shortly loosing his wife due to an illness. Neil is a painfully private person and you could tell it was hard for him to be interviewed for the movie. I thought he was pretty uncomfortable with the interview. That's just my opinion. I may be wrong. But regardless, he did manage to do the interview because he did it for us Rush fans. Thank you Neil! The movie goes on to show some stuff on how the group regrouped after being away from it for four years because of Neil's tragedies and how he managed to cope with it by riding a BMW motorcycle 55,000 miles all over North America. He even wrote a song and book about his experiences of that road trip called, "Ghost Rider," which is on the "Vapor Trails" album.

Regardless, if your a big Rush fan or not, this documentary movie will have you cheering, laughing, crying and cheering again. It is a must see for all Rush fans! Like I said, it's the gift that keeps on giving....from one Rush fan to another.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Memphis Magazine: A Blast From The Past

I always look forward to receiving my "Memphis" magazine in the mail every month. I started getting this particular magazine in the mail several years ago. My brother-in-law, Bill, who lives in Bartlett, Tenn., a suburb of Memphis, sends me a subscription to the publication every year for Christmas. It's one of my favorite Christmas gifts that I look forward to receiving. Also, Bill has been sending me "Guidepost" magazine probably for the last 30 years and still is. But to me, there's no other publication like "Memphis" magazine. It's a very special magazine to me.

Since I am a native of Memphis (born in 1962) there's a lot of things in the magazine that always appeal to me. Of course, I moved away from Memphis in 1976 and moved just South of the state-line down to Hernando, Miss. I lived in North Mississippi for 11 years before I moved to Kentucky in 1987. North Mississippi is basically a suburb of Memphis. I know when I lived in Mississippi, we went to Memphis quite often for a lot of activities like shopping, dinning, entertainment and for medical purposes. But since I have lived in Kentucky all these years, I really don't know how much things have changed down there. Of course, I have visited a lot through the years. But I really know exactly how things have changed. I have heard a lot of negatives since I have been up here in Kentucky. But then again, I have heard about a few positives things also. Mainly, the magazine keeps me updated in printed form of what's going on in Memphis and the Mid-South rather than just looking on the Internet at the "The Commercial Appeal," the Memphis newspaper web-site.

One particular section of the magazine that I really like is a column call "Ask Vance." Vance Lauderdale (I still wonder if Vance is a real person or not) will take a question about something in Memphis' history and will do research and find out what happened to the person, place or thing. Here's a link to Vance's blog regarding "Lakeland" an amusement park that used to be Northeast Shelby County, Tenn., the county where Memphis is located. My parents used to take us there a lot as kids when we were growing up there in Memphis. Here's a link where Vance blogs about "Lakeland."

In the latest issue (June 2010) of "Memphis" magazine, Vance wrote a long piece in his column where someone wrote in and ask about the time some people got stuck in a ride called the "Skyride" during a storm at Lakeland. They were stuck for over nine hours hanging 90 feet above a man-made lake. It happened in 1968 and I remember when they happened! Wow, my memory is good! I was only 6 years-old. I thought it was a great piece because it brought back a lot of memories for me. "Memphis" magazine always takes me back as well as keeping me up to date what is going these days in the city. Again, it's great magazine and means a lot to me. Thanks to the staff of "Memphis" magazine and to Vance (If you really are a real person :) ) for entertaining us subscribers and readers as well as informing us.

Below is a video from YouTube where the public television station in Memphis (WKNO television) does a really nice segment on "Ask Vance" for it's viewers. It's called "Southern Routes-Lakeland"