Reefer Madness Descends Again On The Holy City

Posted in The Haps' in Chuck with tags , , on June 18, 2009 by samfavata
click this image to go directly to for tickets!

click this image to go directly to for tickets!

I’m pleased to announce that Midtown/Sheri Grace Productions is bringing back (by popular demand, no doubt) Reefer Madness: The Hit Musical to Charleston. After a very successful debut last winter, the local production company will feature three (3) weekend runs of the show. Ryan Ahlert will return as Director, and Robbi Kenney returns as Musical Director.

Did I mention that I’m playing guitar? Well I am! This fantastic band will also include alternating drummers Stuart White (Pulse Trio, JAC) & Adam Parrott (The Working Title, Cary Ann Hearst), respectively, as well as Charleston newcomer Ted Timper (The Working Title) on bass. Kenney will pull double-duty as pianist & violinist (*coughs* overachiever! *coughs*).

I wrote about the origins of Madness a few months back. Its journey from Church-funded PSA-to-propaganda-spoof-to-musical-theatre-piece intrigued me. Apparently, it intrigued Charlestonians enough to pack the house for two weekends @ Theatre 99 last winter.

Pass The Dutchie on the Left-Hand Side!

This time around, Midtown/Sheri Grace Productions has secured The Village Playhouse, located in Mt. Pleasant, as its venue. Many of the original cast members will be returning for this production, and some new faces are eager to make an impression on what is sure to be a captivated audience. Don’t bogart the info! Spread the word!

Cast members will be appearing on Lowcountry Live Tuesday, June 30th @ 10am. Tune in to catch a preview of the Madness!


Weekly Muse ~ Pattern Is Movement

Posted in Weekly Muse with tags , , , on February 24, 2009 by samfavata

Photos ~ Tim Griffin

PIM w/Daniel Hart from The Physics of Meaning

PIM w/Daniel Hart from The Physics of Meaning

Big, hairy men. I mean, LARGE boys. I guess that’s why there are only two of them. There doesn’t need to be any more.

I came across this group when my buddy Kain Naylor returned from a gig in NC, where his group was co-billed with the duo. Philly-based Pattern Is Movement had existed in several configurations before settling on the duo format, which seems to suit them well. A brief listen will illustrate their command of the musical language (classically-trained, undoubtedly).

Andrew Thiboldeaux and Chris Ward seem pretty at-home on stage, a far cry from the often meek & apologetic posturing of some ‘indie-rock acts’. These guys are definitely working through some issues, but in a refreshingly honest & accountable way. Cuts from the latest issue, All Together, show plenty of technical proficiency, but without alienating the listener. The songs push & pull at the right moments and in the right amounts. I found myself continually rewinding tracks to points where these musical ‘shifts’ occurred. Brilliant.

Pattern Is Movement

Pattern Is Movement do that whole ‘enigmatic soul-baring’ thing pretty darn well. They are capable of a sincerity that is arresting, without losing the lightheartedness needed to keep the record from ending up in that ‘break-up music’ playlist that keeps evolving in your iTunes. TMI? Get over it.

Duos have been making the scene more & more often, I’ve noticed. We’ve got our Black Keys, our Benevento & Russo, our (sigh) White Stripes and so many others worth naming I should start a freakin’ blog about it! Annnnnywho, I reckon the duo thing is practical ~ probably less equipment to carry (and you don’t have to pay laptops & MPCs -non-union-), less mouths to feed on the road (and jeez, these mouths look like they prolly eat for two apiece anyway)…

I say, good show, ol’ boys! Capitol!

Pattern Is Movement’s latest LP, All Together, was released last Spring on Colorado-based Home Tapes label. Go on, now! Git it!

Dig This, Baby! ~ Reefer Madness: The Hit Musical ~ Theatre 99 in Charleston, SC

Posted in The Haps' in Chuck with tags , , , on January 31, 2009 by samfavata

When Groovy Was Groovy

When Groovy Was Groovy

So o.k. ~ some shameless self promotion coming your way, poppets. I just can’t help myself. Everyone needs to know about this one.

You know what’s weird, to me, when I stop & think about it? People getting on stage, dressing up & pretending to be someone else for an evening. I found myself pondering this notion last evening, during opening night of Midtown Sheri Grace Productions‘ performance of Reefer Madness: The Hit Musical.

I’m playing guitar in the show’s live band, headed by musical director Robbi Kenney ~ This is the 3rd musical that I’ve done, and I can’t seem to get past the basic sense of wonder at the very act of engaging in musical theater. It’s all so incredibly silly ~ and therein lies the mechanism of catharsis: the ability & desire to laugh at ourselves. I, for one, am all for it.

Reefer Madness started, auspiciously enough, as a church group-funded PSA entitled Tell Your Children ~ a dramatized-for-the-masses 1922 short film dis-informing middle America about the dangers of cannabis, its users portrayed as the lunatic fringe element (worse than Communists) bent on destroying our values & moral, Christian way of life. I know, right?

It didn’t take long for a successful building contractor-turned film industry ingenue named Dwain Esper to snatch up the relatively cheap rights to the film, and employ his unique sense of production & promotion to turn Reefer into an early cult classic. Adding additional scenes to the original, many of which he would shoot & direct himself, he would transform the propaganda piece into a maudlin satire. The added scenes were often lurid, suggestive and, before the 1934 Production Code was passed, downright pornographic. Esper wanted to give his product an enticing, possibly taboo-confronting air that would draw crowds. Well, theoretically.

Esper often rented theaters himself, using outlandish promotional gimmicks in each market to create a hype he knew folks would not ignore. He was largely responsible for making a minor success out of the now cult favorite Freaks (1932), utilizing these proto-guerilla marketing techniques. For a “Hollywood outsider”, you gotta hand it to the guy ~ he made a pretty reasonable living during the Great Depression. I can’t help feeling that there’s a lesson in all of this…

So flash-forward to 1998, when two enterprising writers named Kevin Murphy & Dan Studney found themselves on a road trip, listening to (what else?) Frank Zappa‘s opus, Joe’s Garage. Trying to picture how they might stage the album live, they instead settled on doing an adaptation of the original Reefer Madness film. As the story goes, they’d written the 1st song by the time they’d reached their destination. By the time they’d developed the full script & accompanying musical numbers, they’d turned the cult-classic into a laugh-riot satirical musical that flaunts its self-insistence with a wry smile.

Adopted into movie form by Showtime in 2005 (and thus completing the cosmic cycle of art-imitating-life-imitating-art), Reefer Madness has won its way back into the hearts & lungs of America.

Midtown Sheri Grace Productions, whose namesake has pulled together a local cadre of performers from all disciplines ~ actors, singers, instrumentalists & improv comedians ~ has acquired downtown Charleston’s premier imrov comedy & theater venue, Theatre 99, for two weekend runs. Dwain Esper would be proud.

Join us for cathartic silliness and remember: puff, puff, pass!


A Midtown Sheri Grace Production

Reefer Madness: The Hit Musical @ Theatre 99 ~ 280 Meeting St (above the Bike Shoppe)

Tickets: call 843.853.6687 or

January 29th ~ 8PM                30th & 31st ~ 10PM

February 5th ~ 8PM                   6th & 7th ~ 10PM

Director: Ryan Ahlert

Musical Direction: Robbi Kenney

Choreography: Rachel Hedrick

**Promo Video Link**

Bush Is A Midnight Cowboy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on December 18, 2008 by samfavata
Stone Cold, Son!

Stone Cold, Son!

Knowing that the whistle is about to be blown on the Neo-Cons’ last eight years of “free play”, President George W. Bush is handing out favors like Santa hands out those mini candy-canes at the Mall. Take a look at this list of ‘midnight regulations’ that are being passed through without Congressional consideration. It’s f***ed up, but believe-it-or-not, it’s totally legal.

Weekly Muse ~ Tussle ~ Cream Cuts (CD/Smalltown Supersound/2008)

Posted in Weekly Muse with tags , , on December 18, 2008 by samfavata


Gestating in North Carolina in the 90s, a friendship founded in a high-school art class would lead three young men West, as is the American Way, to San Francisco. Fin-de-siecle SF was an era of widespread turntablism, electro-mayhem & a return to the beatification of the beat. What began as late-night jam sessions for these aspiring experimentalists became a West Coast phenomenon that is quickly growing into a Global one.

Forsaking their six-strings for dual drum sets, keyboards, beat-machines & a bass guitar, this Bay-area quartet brings the ruckus with a visceral live show as dynamic as it is varied. Check out a free track offered from their latest release, Cream Cuts (2008). This will mark Tussle’s second release with indie label Smalltown Supersound.


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on December 15, 2008 by samfavata

We all have those moments of frustration ~ someone has done us wrong, and it is human and natural to want retribution. Book 1 of Ancient Byzantine Law sates that: “Justice is the constant & perpetual wish to render everyone his due”. Well said.

Hebrew Hepcat

Posted in weird gigs with tags , , , on December 14, 2008 by samfavata

Last week I had the rare fortune to be hired as part of a back-up band that performed @ The House of Blues, here in Myrtle Beach. It was a private engagement, a school fund-raiser put on by the local Israeli community. The artist they brought in was Yehoram Gaon, a platinum-selling singer, movie & film star ~ it was explained to me that he was Israel’s “Frank Sinatra”. Go figure.

We (the hired local musicians) had NO IDEA what kind of music we were going to be performing until we arrived, at which point we were all handed books of music…written in Hebrew. Seriously. Rehearsal began, and we promptly began to butcher these traditional Israeli folk & pop tunes. It was pretty awful, and after 2 hours of this, we wiped our brows and headed to the restaurant for a bite to eat, and what began as one in a series of Tequila shots for me.

But we played the show, and did a fairly good job, strangely enough! It was certainly a bizarre experience to be on stage at The HOB, in Myrtle Beach, performing to a packed house of Israeli people. But as they say, “there’s no business like show-business….” Indeed.

I’ll post pics/vids when I get them. Until then, enjoy a clip of Yehoram Gaon performing what I assume is a classic in the Middle East!