Film & Television Series

Double Vision: Greetings From Tim Buckley @ Tribeca Film Festival

Quadrophenia: (Top L to R) The real Tim, the real Jeff, Penn Badgley,  Ben Rosenfield
Quadrophenia: (Top L to R) The real Tim, the real Jeff, Penn Badgley, Ben Rosenfield
Greetings From Tim Buckley
Director: Dan Algrant
(Tribeca Film/Focus World)

Select Theatrical release:
May 3 Los Angeles – Laemmle Noho 7
May 3 New York – Village East
May 10 Denver – SIE Film Center
May 17 Columbus – Gateway Film Center
May 17 Toronto – TIFF Bell Lightbox
May 24 Seattle – Northwest Film Forum
May 24 Portland – Hollywood 3

Also available as Pay On-Demand viewing and iTunes purchase.
What It Is…
Director Daniel Algrant’s rumination on the late singers Tim & Jeff Buckley is slyly named Greetings From Tim Buckley. I say slyly because it is not only a nod to an album title but an ironic nudge that the protagonist must “meet” his estranged, deceased, father solely through his music and other’s perceptions of that music. At its core the film is the story of a talented young person boxing with an ancestral ghost. It is an imbroglio magnified by Jeff’s uncanny likeness to the images on Tim’s vintage record albums.

The film illuminates the story of Jeff’s participation in a tribute to his father held in Brooklyn at St. Anne’s Church in April of 1991. The Hal Wilner production was essentially Buckley the younger’s coming out party. It’s a single facet of the prism that was Jeff Buckley but a key perspective on the history that drove him. Similar to Dream Brother, David Brown’s dual biography which alternated chapters between father and son, Algrant offers us Pen Badgley’s Jeff and Ben Rosenfield’s Tim in doppelganger juxtapositions that highlight their commonalities, particularly their will-o-the-wisp ways. I call it decisively indecisive, those on the receiving end might just call it self-serving or just plain selfish behavior.

Badgley, embodies the young singer in the same peripheral OMG glimpses that Jeff himself embodied his father. It is very hard in this post video world to portray an entity of recent note. Your audience has a lot of audio-visual information to compare. Badgley gives you his take on “the guy inside,” and it works as mercurial amounts of self-doubt and obstinate pride come through with facility. That is, you don’t see him acting.

As a musician and songwriter myself, I particularly enjoyed the scene in which Frank Wood as Gary Lucas and Badgley’s Jeff cobble together the riffs that would eventually become the song “Grace,” the title tune of Buckley’s only non-posthumous album. An unintended slight comes when guitarist Lucas compliments Jeff on his Qawwali style vocal technique then suggests he use it to embellish one of is father’s tunes at the tribute. The scene is a great illustration of how – for Jeff – Tim’s legend is both a stepping stone and pitfall for his own aspirations.

Badgley and Poots Meld Minds as Jeff and Allie (Photo Courtesy of Tribeca Films)
Badgley and Poots Meld Minds as Jeff and Allie (Photo Courtesy of Tribeca Films)

Co-Star Imogen Poots plays Allie the fictionalized foil who acts as love interest, play friend, muse and talented competitor. The center of the movie finds Jeff and Allie cavorting around town where they end up flipping through LP’s in a used record shop. When Allie flashes Jeff the cover of one of his father’s albums, Jeff counters with a Led Zeppelin LP and launches into a chipmunked pastiche of Zep tunes that scares the crap out of the staff. It’s a performance that is worth the price of admission. If you’ve never heard the real Jeff render “’Kashmir’ at 78 RPM” you owe it to yourself to seek it out. There’s a short version on the Live at L’Olympia concert disc released in 2001 by Columbia/Sony Australia.

SkeletonPete Says…
When Greetings From Tim Buckley succeeds or fails it is for the same reason, its “one – piece – of – the – puzzle” scope. While Jeff fans know what eventually transpired during the rest of his short lifetime, the film leaves casual viewers in the lurch wondering “why should I care?” Therefore Jeff devotees may want to own this film while newbies will have to hit Wikipedia for the complete 411 – or just buy Grace to be enlightened.

Though the interpersonal content of the screenplay often allows the audience to glean some pointers to future developments in Jeff’s life, its ending – the concert reenactment – ultimately falls flat. Why? Because the performances do not convey catharsis and because as an “origin” story there can be none of Jeff’s own spectacular output. His troubadouring at clubs like Siné would ultimately blossom into the creation of Grace several years later.

Turnabout being fair play, I’d say that 20 years since the release of Grace, few would know who Tim Buckley was if not for his famous son.

Klose to the Edge…
In addition to Badgley, singer/songwriter Jann Klose is featured “in the mix” playing and vocalizing on Tim Buckley’s “Pleasant Street,” “Song For Janie, and “Once I Was.” I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Jann’s excellent group and photographing the gig.

This season he will be previewing songs from his new album Mosaic. The album will be released on CD on June 7th, with iTunes download following later in the month. In addition to Klose’s original songs, the album closes with his a cappella version of Tim Buckley’s “Song To The Siren” and in an art imitates art ouroboros he has recently been writing with aforementioned Jeff Buckley collaborator Gary Lucas.

I highly reccommend you make a point of hearing him perform.


Jann Klose Wraps Up Rockwood Residency

Jann Klose At Rockwood Music Hall

On April 29, 2012, singer – songwriter – guitarist Jann Klose wrapped up a month long stint at Rockwood Music Hall on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Ken Pierce and I were fortunate enough to catch the capper show of the four weekend residency. Having met Jann at the Greg Lake press conference last month it was a treat to get to hear him perform.

Backed by Chris Marolf on bass, Rob Mitzner on drums and Keyboardist Lars Potteiger, Klose opened the night with one of his newest recordings “Falling Tears.” The musicians took advantage of their extended set time by stretching out a bit and offering up some new songs. Klose noted that the residency was a nice opportunity to mix up the sets and audition material for the next album. He genially joked that he’d be using his “applause-o-meter” to judge the value of tunes for the forthcoming album. Based on what we heard, it will be a hard choice. Each had excellent melodies and choruses to recommend them.

While reviewers have often compared Klose’s vocal delivery to that of early 60’s Paul McCartney, and I clearly hear a Billy Joel like turn of phrase in several songs, he has a wider musical world view than either of them. Born in Germany and spending part of his formative years in Kenya, Klose integrates a universal range of rhythmic motifs into his pop based songwriting. The reggae-esque “Hold Me Down” is a favorite of mine. It’s a fun upbeat tune during which the band – aided by vocalist Aisha Eustache – easily elicited an audience sing-a-long on it’s infectious chorus. With Lars switching to accordion, and augmented by Megan Marolf on oboe and Leah Potteiger on violin, the group took on a gypsy jazz feel turning Rockwood into a poppier version of The Hot Club. The band closed the night with a jazzy take on “Stormy Monday Blues” with a little Sly Stone thrown in for good measure.

In addition to his solo recorded work (3 full length CD’s and 2 EP’s are available) Jann has been a member of the stage companies of Tommy on Broadway, Jeckyll & Hyde touring and Jesus Christ Superstar in Europe. For last year’s Jeff Buckley Tribute Show at Knitting Factory he joined Gary Lucas (Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band, Gods & Monsters) for an impressive rendition of Grace album opener “Mojo Pin.” Lucas returned the favor on night three of the Rockwood engagement.

Jann will be opening for Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty at Iridium Jazz Club on Wednesday May 2, 2012, that’s tonight! There are two shows and it should be quite a treat to hear him join the headliners for a few classics like “Heart Full Of Soul” and “For Your Love.” I suggest you keep an eye on his schedule for other opportunities to catch he and his band.