Chicago’s South Side
Richie Bloom (Richie Davis) is the only white kid on his block on Chicago’s south side. He brings his friend Kevin (Edward Stoney Robinson) into a rhythm and blues band. They are mentored by sax legend Percy (Gene Daddy G Barge) and they form a group that practices in a funeral home and they eventually have a wonderful smash debut.
What is fascinating is that this is not a new movie—it was filmed in 1978 but it has been unavailable for a long time. “A galaxy of music and film characters appear in “Stony Island”: Chicago saxophone legend Gene Barge, Rae Dawn Chong, Dennis Franz, the late great jazz poet Oscar Brown Jr., Chess session guitarist Phil Upchurch and future Bangles star Susanna Hoffs, who plays “Farm Girl Lucie.” Her mother, Tamara Hoffs wrote and produced “Stony Island,” with Chicago native Davis, who went on to direct the Oscar-nominated “The Fugitive,” “Above the Law” and “The Guardian.” Davis and cast members will appear for Q&A sessions after the screenings”.
Stony Island Avenue is a landmark of the south side of Chicago. It is also musically legendary and that is the background of the film. It is a love letter to the area and the rhythm and blues scene of the 1970’s as well as the entire decade. The film is almost a time capsule of the period.
The ploy is simple: “Richie and Kevin want to start a band, so they do. No one stands in their way or tells them no. They want to play live, so they go to a club owner and ask to play at the club. The owner says yes, and they do. They play well, and the audience enjoys it. That’s pretty much how this whole movie goes. And you know what? That’s fine. Maybe I’m just getting old and stressed out, but sometimes it’s just, well… nice to watch nice people be good at things and get what they want. Misery for misery’s sake doesn’t always have to be the default setting of High Art.”
The south side of Chicago is also a character in the film as it is so integral to what goes on. While the photography is a bit grainy, we are still enthralled with what we see.