Talk about symbiosis: In the Weekly's 20th anniversary issue, published on March 4, 2004, we told you about High and Dry, a documentary then being made by Los Angeles filmmaker (and former Tucsonan) Michael Toubassi, about the 20-year period of the Tucson music scene spanning from 1979 to roughly 1999--or, as Toubassi prefers, "the recent past."
This weekend, as part of the celebration surrounding Club Congress' 20th Anniversary, the film will be shown in its Tucson premiere at the Loft Cinema.
The film, whose promotional materials bear the tagline "Where the Desert Meets Rock 'n' Roll," is the result of almost six years of work on the part of Toubassi and his crew, from pre-production to the final edit. Along the way, he culled more than 120 hours of footage of interviews and live performances which were shot in Austin, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and San Francisco, in addition to Tucson, where Toubassi lived from 1994-1999. During that period, he was involved in the music scene himself, booking bands for the UA's Eat to the Beat concert series, managing local bands and hosting Multimedia Mondays, a weekly series that paired short films by local filmmakers with live performances by local and national bands, at Club Congress.
But it took being outside of the Tucson music scene for Toubassi to realize its importance. "It's hard when you're in the scene, and you're doing things for the scene, to have a perspective on it," he told the Weekly last year. "When I was living there, I was constantly trying to be a part of what was happening. And once you're part of it, it's hard to have a kind of perspective and to look at it as an outsider, because you're inside of it. ... So now, I can have a different role for the scene, and I think that's the role I've actually settled into and become--sort of the Tucson music historian or archivist of sorts."
High and Dry begins with bands such as The Pedestrians, The Serfers (who became Green on Red) and The Pills (later Gentlemen Afterdark); traces its way through Giant Sandworms (now Giant Sand), the Sidewinders (who became the Sand Rubies), Al Perry, the Supersuckers, the River Roses, Doo Rag and Bob Log III, Bloat Records, and Machines of Loving Grace; and winds down in the era that spawned Shoebomb and Fourkiller Flats. In other words, the film's Tucson debut couldn't have been better timed, as it will provide something of a filmic crib sheet for the weekend's events.
High and Dry shows three times this weekend at the Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.: 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2, and 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3 and Sunday, Sept. 4. Tickets for Friday are $10; the Saturday and Sunday matinees are $8, with a $2 discount for seniors, students and Tucson Film Society members. The matinees will also include a Q&A with the director and members of the cast and crew.
For more information, call the Loft at 322-5638, or log onto highanddrymovie.com.