The following, “Family Affair” (script, excerpt), is an excerpt of a completed script by Jeff Kaliss.
Jeff Kaliss studies writing and jazz piano at CCSF after completing an MFA in Creative Writing at SFSU. His poetry appears in the Suisun Valley Review and he reads it around town. Jeff wrote a biography of Sly & the Family Stone and thousands of articles about music.
by Jeff Kaliss
EXT., YASGUR’S FARM, NEAR BETHEL, NEW YORK, AUGUST 16, 1969, CIRCA 4 AM.
FADE IN, over sound of an insistent rock drumbeat, to a scene tinted psychedelically:
PAN, hordes of slowly stirring sleeping hippies, most in sleeping bags across the occupied meadowland, some wandering half-naked, some smoking doobies. CAPTION: “Woodstock Music & Art Festival, Bethel, New York, August 16, 1969, 4 a.m. On stage: Sly & the Family Stone.” An amorous, still-sleepy HIPPY COUPLE, he black, she white, embrace as they listen:
SLY (OS, AMPLIFIED)
What we would like to do is, sing a song together.
(Pause) But most of us need approval.
HIPPY COUPLE embraces, kisses, then turns their smiling faces towards the glow of the stage. CUT to CU of SLY STONE, 26 years old:
Most of us need to get approval from our neighbors,
before we can actually let it all hang down.
CUT TO HIPPY COUPLE. He looks down towards his midsection, looks at her, they both start laughing. CUT back to:
Now, what we’re gonna do here is a singalong. A lot
of people don’t like to do that, because they think it
may be old-fashioned. But you must dig that it is not
a fashion in the first place! It’s a feeling, and if it was
good in the past, it is still good! So what I want you to
do, I’d like everybody to join in, when we say “Higher!”,
I want you to hold the peace sign up. It’ll do you no harm.
SLY starts to sing, against the continuing pulse of GREG’s drumming. INTERCUT with the hippy couple responding vocally and with peace signs.
(Chanting:) I wanna take you higher!
Chant is repeated.
Way up on the hill! I wanna hear y’all!!
CUT TO dusky vista of hippie throng on the hill, some distance from the stage. Many more now are standing and displaying peace signs, as well as many more illuminated joints.
CUT TO entire Sly & the Family Stone band on stage. JERRY, on saxophone, and CYNTHIA, on trumpet, launch into the brassy instrumental tag from “Music Lover”, then transition to “I Want to Take You Higher”, with SLY taking the lead on vocals and keyboard, ROSE on backup vocals, LARRY on backup vocals and bass, and FREDDIE on guitar, along with JERRY, CYNTHIA, and GREG. During the performance of the song, we get to see all of them in closeup, intercut with shots of an audience reclaimed from the night, the Hippy Couple among them, moving to the music. We may or may not run opening credits and the film title here. On the chorus line, “Baby light my fire”, the Hippy Couple can do just that. On the extended chant of “Boom-laka-laka-laka”, CROSSCUT to:
INT, LIMO, STREETS OF OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA, PRESENT DAY
Just want to let y’all know the series is updated for our upcoming Nov. 5th show at Brick & Mortar! Please
RSVP and share on your facebook / twitter / email blasts / whathaveyous so that the series gets as much exposure as possible. There is no facebook event because all promotion is sponsored by NoisePop’s Do415.com, which is where everyone attending should RSVP. The flier is also attached for your printing and spreading purposes. Remember, the show is free but the bands split up 20% of the bar ring, so the more drinkers we get through the door, the happier we’ll be at the end of the night.
There’s some additions to the evening’s itinerary as well…
Load-in 5:30, soundcheck 6. doors at 7.
7 – 8pm: DJ Neil Martinson
8 – 8:30: Colin Ludlow Mattson & The Folks
8:30 to 8:45: Short readings from contributing authors of Forum Magazine
8:45 – 9:15: Betsy and Beau
9:15 – 9:30: Short readings, raffle winners
9:30 – 10:15: Sea Dramas
10:15 – 10:35: DJ Neil Martinson
10:30 – 11:15: Luke Sweeney & Wet Dreams Dry Magic
11:15 – ? DJ Neil Martinson
Please feel free to coordinate with the other acts (including mine) if there is backline equipment you’d like to share, (i.e. amps & drums). Thanks in advance to all of you for contributing your many talents to what should be a beautiful harvest of music, literature, and revelry!
Tomorrow, Saturday, February 4 —
Join us for a night of live music, readings, and dancing as we celebrate our latest edition of Forum!
Magazines hot off the press will be available to purchase for $10 as well as raffled off throughout the night and contributors will each receive a free copy of the magazine. Well-known authors will read from their latest works before the mic is opened to the public to read poetry, sings songs, chant wisdom…anything, really!
Featured readers will be:
There will also be an open mic and music from local band Rival Parties, DJs and as well as live jazz to kick off the evening. The event is also a fundraiser to benefit Forum*, a $7 donation is suggested but not mandatory. Things get underway at 6:00 pm at N.I.P. at 17th & Capp (Look for the wooden door that says “NIP;” Please enter/exit discreetly).
*this is not an official class/club/magazine event
by Ayo Khensu-Ra |
And now somewhat of a departure for Forum and Boeotia. We have had live music at Forum events in the past but of course music isn’t our main focus. Still, music is a vital part of the arts and thus we present an interview with local musician Emily Whitehurst. Whitehurst was the lead singer of punk act Tsunami Bomb for many years. More recently she has been the lead vocalist of the band The Action Design and even more recently, she and Action Design guitarist Jaycen Mckissick started the two-piece known as Survival Guide. I interviewed her via email.
Ayo Khensu-Ra: I’m intrigued by the band bio on srvvlgd.com. It says in part that you started Survival Guide “with a plan to have no real plan” how does that tie into the whole ethos of the band?
Emily Whitehurst: Our “plan to have no real plan” refers to the music style. We feel like, in past bands and musical projects, we’ve had to stay within the confines of the genre. In Survival Guide, we want to be able to write music that we like, whether our songs have opposing musical styles or not.
AK: How different has it been being a two-piece compared to your previous projects, has that changed the process of writing songs?
EW: It’s extremely different! In other projects, we both tended to be less involved in writing the bodies of songs. I usually would write vocals last, and Jaycen would sprinkle fancy guitars over whatever was already written. In this project, we are both involved from beginning to end, which makes each song so much more meaningful to both of us.
AK: Your songs are very dense sonically, is that something you and Jaycen consciously set out to do? How big a part does recording play in writing songs?
EW: We definitely do not set out to make sonically dense songs. We follow that ethos you asked about in the first question! However, for some songs, we do like to make them as full as they can be for a 2-piece band. Recording and writing are practically one and the same for us. We record everything as we go along, and for us it’s a great way to be able to listen back on what we’re doing to decide whether we like it or not.
AK: How easy or difficult has it been to translate songs to the stage?
EW: It’s been pretty easy, actually! When we’re writing, we keep the live show in the back of our minds. We don’t want to add too many layers of instruments that we won’t be able to play all at once live.
AK: You’ve already put out a 7 inch and have another coming out soon, why have you chosen that route as opposed to an EP or a full-length?
EW: Firstly, we both love vinyl! We’re so glad to already have 2 vinyl releases in the works — for us, the vinyl/download combo is ideal. We teamed up with Side With Us Records, and we had a few songs ready for Hot Lather Machine, so we decided to put songs out into the world as soon as we could instead of keeping them for a larger collection. We loved the way the first 7″ worked out, so we decided to do it again for Wildcat. Currently, we’re hoping to get enough material together for a full-length next… but we do love releasing new songs… so we’ll see!
AK: The download for Hot Lather Machine included a bonus track, and a digital booklet which included a couple of recipes. I thought that was a nice touch, how did that idea come about?
EW: We thought it would be nice to include lots of extra bonus stuff with the vinyl. We know not everyone uses a turntable, so we figured if we were going to force people to buy a medium they don’t use, we should at least compensate them for it in some way. You only get the bonus materials (song included) if you order a vinyl, so that makes the purchase extra special. The idea for the recipes in particular came about because our favorite thing besides music is food and cooking/baking! We decided to share recipes and thought some people might enjoy trying them out.
AK: Forum is a literary magazine so what do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors, poets?
EW: I love reading different types of fiction — I usually try and switch it up between classic and contemporary. My favorite books are Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” series, and I also love Kurt Vonnegut, Amy Tan, Mark Twain, Isabel Allende… any authors who write about adventure, foreign lands, and impossible situations. (I’m generally not into murder mysteries, war stories, or “chick-lit” type books, but I like pretty much everything else!)
AK: What is it in particular about His Dark Materials that draws you to that series?
EW: I love how the subject matter is so grandiose. People tend to categorize it as a Young Adult series, and it IS entertaining, but I love the way Pullman writes about such taboo subjects — science vs. religion, physical existence of the soul, what happens after death — all through the eyes and journey of a young girl. To me, he’s very brave. I think it will always be my favorite.
AK: How do you write lyrics? As there any particular method you use? Do you write with an eye to verses and choruses or is that something you work out later?
EW: My method starts with free writing. I take a feeling and write as much about it as I can in one giant paragraph. Then I go back through it and pick out what sounds either the most poetic or the most important to my theme. From there, I start building verses and choruses.
AK: When it comes to writing lyrics, do you think you are influenced particularly by other songwriters? Are you influenced by other types of writing?
EW: Usually, each song is influenced (at least a little) by whatever I’m listening to at the time. I can’t say I have a particular lyricist that I always look to for guidance. My writing style isn’t usually influenced by other types of writing, but sometimes my content is! I’ve written a few songs that draw imagery or subject matter from books I’m reading.
AK: Do you do any other kind of creative writing?
EW: No, not at the moment, but my husband and I are going to attempt to write a short screenplay soon. Wish me luck!
AK: Good luck! can you tell us anything about it?
EW: It’s a post-apocalyptic monologue. Pretty depressing!
AK: Anything else you’d like to share?