Above you should see the music video for “Twenty Days” by the group Farnsworth. This is the official music video, heralding the release of their new album “Live It,” which will make its debut on vinyl this Saturday at Sullivan’s Records.
Sullivan’s is of course the natural place for the vinyl release party since the album was recorded there after hours over the course of a few weeks earlier this year, during the water crisis. While this will be the first in-store performance at Sullivan’s open to the public, this music has been played there before.
Later in the evening, after the Sullivan’s release party, Farnsworth will take the stage again at Sam’s Uptown Cafe.
The story of this video is a fun combination of trivia and obscurity. It’s a tribute to the German music program Beat Club, which ran on the Bremen Network from 1967 to 1972 and featured legendary bands performing in front of primitive green screens, usually with psychedelic imagery behind them.
Chris Vance, the guitarist and singer for the band, got in touch with me because he wanted to make a Beat Club style video and not a lot of people know what that is. The performances from Beat Club were shown a lot on MTV in their early days and are available for viewing now on YouTube, but they were never really a mainstream American phenomenon.
Of course, that didn’t really bother me. I was a huge fan of the Beat Club music videos and have been dying to do one for some time. We even made this in the old standard-definition aspect ratio to make it more like the original Beat Club.
I met with Chris and his drummer, Jason Reese, at their rehearsal space on Charleston’s West Side (where I got to see the still unassembled analog multi-track recorder they recently obtained that used to belong to Del Shannon–but that’s another story) and we agreed to undertake this project together. I had a studio in mind, but I had to make sure we could work with their schedule.
I’d been in touch with Eric Meadows from Voices of Appalachia Radio and we were plotting more than a few collaborations (which you will hear about later). One of the things we were working on was that Eric wanted me to make use of the green screen facility at WVSU EDC (aka DigiSo) and it just happened to be perfect for the Farnsworth music video.
The hard part of this project was that I would be using modern high definition equipment to duplicate the look of primitive analog chroma key. So when you watch this video, please don’t think that this is the best green screen technology you can get at WVSU EDC. I had to make it sloppy on purpose. Part of the charm of the old Beat Club videos was that occasionally the band members would seemingly become transparent or develop large holes in their bodies through which you could see the background.
I hope we have come close enough for honors with our tribute to Beat Club. I want to thank the members of Farnsworth, Chris Vance, Jason Reese, and Justin Yates, as well as Chris’ fiancee, Belva Holstein (our German speaking VeeJay) for asking me to put this project together. It was a blast and it was the first lip-sync video I’ve worked on since I co-directed Flare Baroshi’s “Vampire Mafia” almost five years ago.
This is the official version of the music video for “Twenty Days,” but don’t be surprised if one or two video remixes turn up in the next week and also, don’t be surprised if a widescreen variant is part of Radio Free Charleston’s 200th episode, which is sneaking up on us rapidly.
Don’t forget Farnsworth’s vinyl release party Saturday, September 20th at Sullivan’s Records at 7 PM, and their show later that night at Sam’s Uptown Cafe.