Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010

They Came from Underground

Eighties College Rock Live

By David Luhrssen
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Milwaukee filmmaker and musician Mark G.E. went to Kansas City for graduate school in the mid-‘80s and launched a mostly-music TV show in the early years of cable, “Joy Farm.” bounced between Milwaukee and Kansas City during the ‘80s. The program focused on what was then called new music—before hardening of the creative arteries set in and the category narrowed into a marketing ploy called “alternative rock.”

They Came from Underground is a best of “Joy Farm” compilation from that period, culled from interviews and well-shot concert footage of such touring bands as Husker Du, They Might be Giants, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fishbone. Monty Python’s Graham Chapman popped in for a short sketch. The sometimes cheeky production reveled in the delirious, Max Headroom pixilations of that moment in time when digital cameras seemed like a revelation.

Of special interest to Milwaukeeans is a spry number by the BoDeans and an intensely-focused, razor’s edge performance by the Violent Femme—a “Gimme the Car” that verged on free jazz and psychedelia. After moving back to Milwaukee in 1989, G.E. transformed “Joy Farm” into a comedy and arts program, but that era waits for this documentary’s sequel (They Came from Brew City?)

They Came from Underground will be screened 7 p.m., Nov. 18 at the Oriental Theatre. A limited edition poster for the film by Milwaukee poster artist Von Munz will be on sale in the lobby. All proceeds benefit the Milwaukee Artist Resource Network.

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