J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Teen a Go Go: Love for the Fort Worth Teen Scene

Evidently, in the 1960’s, Fort Worth was a town full of David Cassidys. The teen scene was thriving. Many bands had fan clubs and issued records that are now highly prized by collectors. Melissa Kirkendall surveys the golden age of Texas teen music with the grown-up former stars in her hip documentary-valentine Teen a Go Go (trailer here), which is now available on DVD from Cinema Libre.

For obvious reasons, the Beatles cast a long shadow over the teen bands profiled in Go Go. However, Kirkendall establishes a special link between the Fab Four and the mid-sized city of Fort Worth. While the Beatles were the clear and unambiguous model for scores of better than average bands throughout the city, Fort Worth musician Delbert McClinton also inspired the Beatles. In fact, McClinton taught John Lennon his first harmonica licks while touring England with Fort Worth native Bruce Channel, who was then riding the wave of his monster hit “Hey! Baby.” “Love Me Do” would be released shortly thereafter.

Go Go really opens a time capsule from a more innocent and enterprising time. The success these kids had (and kids they were indeed), without hitting it big nationally, is rather remarkable. Some actually had their local chart toppers covered by national acts. The film will even interest j-pop listeners, because the 5.6.7.8’s (best known in America for their performances in Tarantino’s Kill Bill) are seen playing and discussing The Elite’s “One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, Four.”

There is something about these stories that appeals to the record collector’s soul. These kids once had groupies and even the teenaged dancers who shimmied to their tunes on the local alternative to American Bandstand had their own fans. Yet with the passage of time, this has become a secret scene that has no legitimate analog today, despite the subsequent mass marketization of media production technology. There could be the seed of a great movie musical or even a Broadway show in Go Go. As a documentary, it is thoroughly entertaining, making a persuasive case for Fort Worth’s special place in Rock & Roll history. A cool little (78 minutes) film, Go Go is affectionately recommended for both the music and the nostalgia. It is now available on DVD and digital delivery services from Cinema Libre.

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