Saturday, November 15, 2008

Q & A with "Teen A Go-Go" director Melissa Kirkendall

Several years go, veteran music promoter Melissa Kirkendall transitioned from the rawk world to work as a production coordinator on locally shot TV movies and series, including “Prison Break” and “Walker, Texas Ranger.” She makes her debut as a documentary director with “Teen A Go-Go,” a feature-length exploration of 1960’s “teen scenes” around the country—with a special emphasis on North Texas. These “scenes” were adult-run nightspots where teenagers driven into a hormonal frenzy by British Invaders like The Beatles and Herman’s Hermits could dance to the latest national pop hits as well as to live original music by their peers. Local garage bands recorded their own “one-take” tunes, pressed them onto vinyl, and sold them at the gigs where they performed

LSIFF’s 5pm Sunday screening of “Teen A Go-Go” has sold out, prompting Kirkendall and her producer Mark Nobles to sked a second LSIFF screening at 7:30pm. Kirkendall spoke briefly to “Fort Worth Weekly” about her doc.—Jimmy Fowler

FWW: What prompted you to make “Teen A Go-Go”?

Kirkendall: I’d been discussing ideas for music documentaries for a while. Then Mark (Nobles) heard the “Fort Worth Teen Scene” CDs and gave them to me. I was like, “Wow, how could I have not known about this part of the music scene?” I knew about Johnny Reno and John Nitzinger and Bloodrock, but a lot of the garage bands had passed me by. Also, honestly, I was shocked at how good the music was. Bands like The Elites and Larry and The Bluenotes were not business-savvy, they didn’t get the industry advice that today’s teen musicians get, but their songs really hook you.

FWW: Where was the original “Teen A Go-Go” club located in Fort Worth?

Kirkendall: In the mid-‘60s, there were three or four “A Go-Go” clubs in Tarrant County that could attract as many as a thousand kids on a weekend night. There were different venues with names like “Candy Stick A Go-Go” and “Action A Go-Go.” But the original “Teen A Go-Go” that we talk about was in Will Rogers Coliseum, in what’s now called the Roundup Inn. The peak of popularity was probably Friday nights from 1965 to 1966. These scenes were happening all over the country at the same time, with no MySpace to connect what everyone was doing.

FWW: Can you name any “one-take” songs by 1960s Fort Worth bands that’ve become internet collectibles?

Kirkendall: What comes to mind is “One Potato” by The Elites, a song that was covered by the all-girl Japanese punk band The’s. “Night of the Sadist” and “In and Out” (by Larry and the Bluenotes) have been covered by different musicians. These were bands that played more than forty years ago, and they only discovered their records were selling on eBay a couple of years ago.

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