The movie will be shown the evening before Porch Rokr– Friday, Aug. 28, 2015 at 8:30 p.m. – on the lawn next to Akron Digital Academy. (The Akron Digital Academy is located in the former Temple Israel building at 133 Merriman Road, Akron, OH 44303.) This is a free event and open to the public.
Created by University of Akron documentary maker Phil Hoffman, “If You’re Not Dead, Play!!” is a new production for Western Reserve PBS and a sequel to “It’s Everything and Then It’s Gone,” Hoffman’s documentary that chronicled the rise of Akron rock legends like Devo and The Waitresses.
Stray Dog Cart will have food and beverage available for purchase beginning at 7:30 p.m. and residents are encouraged to walk, ride their bikes or drive over to join the movie and be prepared to dress for the weather. Bringing chair or blankets also is recommended.
“If You’re Not Dead, Play!!” documents the second wave of Akron “garage bands” that continued in the tradition of “the Akron sound” that began with bands like Devo, Tin Huey and The Waitresses. In the wake of this first wave of rock bands, whose story Hoffman told in “It’s Everything and Then It’s Gone,” a second group of bands formed and took over an old dilapidated bank in downtown Akron, which they dubbed The Bank. Soon, bands such as Unit 5, Chi Pig and Hammer Damage were drawing larger crowds than the original bands ever did. It looked like the road to rock stardom would run right down Akron’s Main Street.
The story is told through interviews with musicians involved in the movement, including former band members from Unit 5, Chi Pig and The Diffi-Cult. Also featured is insight from Chuck Klosterman, a senior writer for Spin Magazine and former Akron Beacon Journal rock critic. Beacon Journal columnist David Giffels, author of “Are We Not Men?” provides background on the era.
Hoffman uses a variety of media to tell his story, including archival video footage from The Bank, never-released audio recordings that have not been heard in over 20 years, newspaper articles and other memorabilia.
“What most surprised me as I created the documentary is that I’ve become an advocate for ‘rock-as-art,'” mused Hoffman. “The average person who considers rock ‘n’ roll only looks at the musical part. These bands were dedicated to it as performance art – as theater – and I have come to appreciate the full artistry of their work.
For more information visit www.tinyurl.com/PorchRokrMovie or email [email protected].
The movie is brought to you, in part, by the generous support of PNC Bank.
About Free Akron Outdoor Movies:
Free Akron Outdoor Movies is a volunteer committee supported by the Akron Digital Media Center, Akronist.com, the City of Akron, PNC Bank, Premier Bank and Trust and other organizations. The group hosts free outdoor movies throughout the city during spring, summer and fall. Contact the group at www.facebook.com/FreeAkronOutdoorMovies to learn more about hosting an outdoor movie in your neighborhood.
About the Highland Square Porch Rokr Festival:
Porch Rokr is an annual music and art festival in Akron’s Highland Square and is the Highland Square Neighborhood Association’s signature event. This year, Porch Rokr will be held on Saturday, August 29, 2015. For more information, visit www.porchrokr.org.