Well – good news to all: It’s out in select theaters from coast to coast. A full list of theaters -and the film’s scheduled roll out in other cities can be found here. And, if you need more of a reason to go, check the film’s official trailer, above.
The latest post in Egon’s NPR series Funk Archaeology couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for anyone recently introduced to the wonders of the Kashmere Stage Band. This investigation into Houston jazz drummer, educator and label owner Bubbha Thomas’ Summer Jazz Workshop – and the nearly impossible to source 45s released by the high school students that participated in the program in the early 70s – colors the Kashmere Stage Band experience and helps explain just how this one Texas city managed to release so much damn-good adolescent funk music.
We apologize to our international fans who cannot watch Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx gush about the Kashmere Stage Band documentary Thunder Soul on Jay Leno’s show. So we’re also posting the New York Times’ review – they singled it out as a “Critics’ Pick” in yesterday’s paper – below. It’s going to be a great opening week for this film!
“You may never have heard of the Kashmere Stage Band, but by the end of “Thunder Soul” you will wonder why. A big-hearted, back-in-the-day tribute — and a stand-alone argument for public-school music programs — Mark Landsman’s bittersweet documentary has designs on your feet, heart and mind.
Celebrating a black Texas high school band that, from 1968 to ’77, vaulted over the color barrier to win nationwide contests, lay down albums and travel to Japan — with financial support from, of all people, Alabama’s governor at the time, George C. Wallace — the film is a riot of impossible Afros and irresistible beats.
Anchored by a 2008 reunion concert in honor of the band’s former teacher, the 92-year-old musical firebrand Conrad O. Johnson Sr. (known to everyone as Prof), a wealth of archival film resurrects a time of civil unrest and racial friction. While the middle-aged alumni, some of whom haven’t touched an instrument in decades, face the daunting task of whipping themselves into performance shape, their spirited interviews bless the day Prof chose a hometown girl and a high school gig over a blossoming musical career. By introducing funky licks, fancy footwork and many of his own compositions to the band’s stodgy set list of jazz standards, this indomitable leader (whose declining health adds a poignant twang to the film’s final scenes) instilled racial pride alongside musical competency.
The power of the tunes remains valuable, but the legacy of an inspirational teacher? Priceless.”
If you were at the last Now-Again/Palate record release party/BBQ throwdown – in celebration of our True Soul: Deep Sounds From The Left Of Stax anthologies – then you know that we throw the best free party in LA this side of the Do-Over. And, now that the Do-Over is done for the season, you really don’t have anything better that you could possibly do on a Sunday afternoon than to come kick it with us. So join us as we celebrate the launch of our deluxe edition of the Kashmere Stage Band’s Texas Thunder Soul 1968-1974 and the release of Mark Landsman’s excellent Thunder Soul documentary.
Free, as usual. Surprise special guests that you’d normally pay good money to see, of course. Funky, you betcha.
We’re proud to present the deluxe edition of the Texas Thunder Soul 1968- 1974 anthology – to be released in conjunction with the Jamie Foxx-produced, award-winning documentary Thunder Soul: The True Story of Conrad Johnson and the Kashmere Stage Band. Texas Thunder Soul 1968- 1974 is presented both as a 3LP/DVD and a 2CD/DVD package; both packages include the short-films “Texas Jewels: The Making of Texas Thunder Soul” (by B+ and Flying Lotus) and “Prof. and his Band: A Documentary by Charles Porter” alongside a performance of the Kashmere Stage Band on the 1972 special “Jazz: Yesterday, Today, Forever.”
We’ve been saying it since the release of The Funky 16 Corners back in 2001 but, after Thunder Soul captured the audience award at festivals like SXSW and the Los Angeles Film Festival, the word is out: Kashmere was the greatest high school band – ever. Their story is tucked in between slabs of hard 70s funk, soul, and jazz; Conrad Johnson transformed a bunch of rough-hewn high schoolers into a band that could compete with any in the nation – professional, or otherwise. Forget high school bands, we’re talking about sixteen year old kids who would give the JBs a run for their money.
The Kashmere Stage Band released a total of eight albums and three 45s on Johnson’s Kram label. The band’s best tracks are collected here alongside producer Eothen “Egon” Alapatt’s expanded booklet, with updated liner notes and essays, more rare photos and ephemera.