BLOG 55: HUNG UP ON A DREAM
For those who don’t know, I am married to Chris White, one of the original line-up and writers with the band The Zombies and, because of this, March meant a trip to America.
We went to the South by Southwest festival (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, to attend the world premiere of the soon to be released documentary about The Zombies at the Zach Theatre. The film, ‘Hung Up On A Dream’, charts the unique story of the band and is beautifully filmed, edited and produced. It is funny, moving and enlightening. It caused the festival audience to laugh, cry and ultimately to give a long and loud standing ovation. It really was a fantastic debut. You can see a trailer here: https://youtu.be/JctjMqtsFsU
It was followed by a Q&A with the four wonderful surviving original members – Rod Argent, Colin Blunstone, Hugh Grundy and Chris - and later the same evening the four played a short acoustic set to a loud and enthusiastic crowd at The Mohawk Club downtown.
The original line-up of The Zombies, pictured here with director – Robert Schwartzman
This year The Zombies were part of the film scene as well as the music scene and wow - they were busy! For the next few days there were interviews for them all, record signings, photo calls and even a song writing session for Chris with Greg Camp (ex-Smashmouth).
We saw Rod and Colin perform acoustic sets, do radio and TV, sit on Q&A panels, and, with the current Zombies - do yet more interviews, play full length gigs, sign hundreds of CDs and 12” vinyl (their new album ‘Different Game’ is set for release on 30th March). We caught their thrilling late-night gig at a packed outdoor Austin venue, Stubbs. They just didn’t stop!
There were so many people to meet! Though I had already met the film director, Robert Schwartzman and producer Russell Groves in the UK when they were interviewing and filming, it was great to put other faces to names from the companies involved with the film. I had met some of them online on a professional level connected to my role in Sunfish Music but it is SO different (and so much better) to meet in person. We all had a couple of magical evenings and everyone involved in making this film is lovely! Do you think I am biased?
What else went on? I am always so captivated by the vast skies of America and struck by the shapes and structures, patterns and colours, music and noise, the art, creativity and general all-round sensory overload! This flying visit was no different.
Cindy da Silva (Zombies manager) and Rene Harbison (businesswoman /designer) – have been friends for years. Rene Harbison lives and works locally in Austin. (Without the talents of these 2 women, I would not have a book of drawings - Know Your Crazy - published and ‘out there’). There was just enough time for the 3 of us to meet up for lunch one day, after which Rene took me on a whistlestop tour of central Austin.
It’s great to explore an unfamiliar city with a local - I got to see so many hidden (as well as the not-so-hidden) gems because of her. Amongst other things we bought poems (inspired by a given word) from poets using typewriters on the street. She showed me some great wall art, the best views of the city and took me to a fascinating independent art gallery.
Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World. The festival swells the population by many thousands - I marvel at the organisation it must take each year. Even simply being part of the entourage around one group, the logistics are complex – everyone becomes a juggler!
The Zombies are surrounded by a fabulous team on the road who make the whole mad ride as smooth as possible – that’s a whole other subject on its’ own!
In my tiny glimpse of the festival in the ‘comparatively quiet’ film festival week - as stages were being erected in every conceivable space, I saw a four-piece rockabilly band gig in a hat shop, singers in a coffee shop, an acoustic gig in a record shop, buskers, a mime artist and a pavement artist - all this outside the organised gig and film events of our trip.
Quite an inspirational few days and well worth the jetlag. Catch those Zombies if you can!
PS. Also March saw Chris’ 80th Birthday 🥳🎂😘 and we drove off to meet up with the extended family for a weekend in Devon to eat lots of chocolate cake!!
Here’s the cake - Design ©Terry Quirk of course).