I first had the pleasure of seeing director Tom Roche's documentary "Alley Pat: The Music Is Recorded" at last year's Atlanta Film Festival, and can now say without any exaggeration that it is one of my all-time favorite music documentaries.
And now, if you live in Macon, you can see it tonight at the Cox Capitol Theatre as part of the Rock 'n' Roll Picture Show series. The movie starts at 7:30 and costs only $5 (or $3 if you wear a rock t-shirt, or free if you happen to be a genuine DJ), but if you show up beginning at 6:30 p.m. and spring for only $8, you also get a great soul food dinner catered by Saralyn Collins Harvey of Good to GO. Beat that!
Anyways, I truly love this movie, so I'll be there, and so will Mr. Roche for a Q&A after the flick. And just who is Alley Pat? Here's what I had to say about the movie when I reviewed it at the Atlanta film fest:
Director Tom Roche's "Alley Pat: The Music is Recorded" is certainly the very definition of the way-overused phrase "labor of love," since the video editor worked on it for eight years.
What his long years of toil have produced is a portrait of longtime Atlanta DJ James "Alley Pat" Patrick that entertains as much as it enlightens about a life very well lived. Patrick, who worked at various radio stations around Atlanta beginning in 1951 or so, earned his nickname both by the alley blues that dominated his shows and for the alley talk that made his shows so infectious (I can only attest to that via the movie, since I had admittedly never heard of him until watching Roche's flick.)
Though Roche enjoyed the participation of many people who worked with Patrick through the years, he wisely lets the movie be dominated by choice cuts from Alley Pat's career on the air, which were unfailingly funny. He was a true pioneer in the arena of "shock jock" talk, but unlike the clowns who clog up the airwaves nowadays, he was never mean-spirited. The best cuts are indeed commercials he made for local businesses in which he would almost always slag the establishment he was supposed to be plugging, but in a way that was so funny the advertisers would still keep coming back.
Roche keeps things brisk and intersperses it with many of the great tunes that Alley Pat played through the years, heavy on John Lee Hooker and, of course, Ray Charles. It was only in the Q&A afterward that I learned the (and I can't remember the technical term for it) scale showing how often Alley Pat just blew out the volume way beyond reasonable levels was actually measuring what we were seeing and hearing on screen. Very clever touch.
So come to downtown Macon for an entertaining little slick of Georgia history and a great musical portrait of a fascinating man.