MVFF: Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone (B+)

Everyday Sunshine is the story of the black/rock band Fishbone that was created by a half-dozen kids who met in a San Fernando Valley high school, all of them bussed in from Watts, South Central LA, etc., during those forced integration years of the ’70s. Fishbone is one of those musicians’-musicians bands that those who really know what’s happening in the music world always know. (I admit that I didn’t know them. I had to ask my bassist son about them.) The band was (and to some extent still is) extraordinary. It’s clear that co-founder Norwood Fisher is not only an awesome musician, but has strongly influenced Flea, Les Claypool and other great rock bassists. Flea, Claypool and a handful of other top musicians appear in interviews that are far more interesting than the usual: “Oh yeah, those guys were great!”

The problems for Fishbone were that they were an amazing live-performance band. Their music just doesn’t work well on audio CD. The band is outrageously talented with an over-the-top eclectic style. They seem so out of control, but everything is musically very tight. An audio recording probably misses the point entirely. The music industry just couldn’t deal with them. The were a punk band, but they were black. They weren’t R&B, they were rock. But it wasn’t the usual blues-based rock. The music is rich, complex and rewarding. Much of it sounds almost Zydeco to me.

Co-directors Lev Anderson and Chris Metzler, both of whom answered questions after the screening, spent years tracking down old footage and old band members. At one point in their history guitarist Kendall Jones left the band to join a cult-like group here in Marin County. The other band members and Kendall’s ex-girlfriend attempted to physically intervene and get him out of there. They were charged with kidnapping and ultimately found not guilty. It’s just part of the wild story of this band’s history, and Anderson and Metzler cover it all.

It’s one of the best rockumentaries I’ve seen. One reason is how brilliantly Anderson and Metzler have pieced it together so non-linearly. It’s not in chronological order. It’s not even in a theme-oriented order. I can’t tell you after just one screening what the sequence of the film is based on, but it works and it works really well. It just flows. And of course, the music is great. You get neither too much music nor too little. It’s just right.

Cessna rated this only a C, so I’d say it’s probably only for those who are musicians (I’m not) or those who are particularly interested in documentary filmmaking. Or if you’re a Fishbone fan, in which it’s obviously a must-see.

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