Jay Middaugh, who wrote, directed, and co-produced the 2017 feature film Live in Kingston, describes the movie as “music documentary disguised as a romantic comedy.”
“There aren’t a lot of people who want to watch 12 music videos back-to-back,” he explains. “We wanted to have enough plot to keep people watching all the way through, but in that plot we have 12 live performances.”
Part of Middaugh’s inspiration to do the film was to provide more accessibility to Kingston bands.
“I was getting older, I have kids, and I realized that some of the best live music is at 1 am with a bunch of drunk people,” says Middaugh. “There is a huge number of people that just can’t get out to see music at 1 am at The Toucan.”
Live in Kingston is being shown at The Screening Room this Thursday, November 8, as part of the Plant the Seeds Initiative, which is an offshoot of the Homegrown Live Music Festival. Homegrown organizer Tom Stewart conceived Plant the Seeds as a big thank you to the hundreds of volunteer musicians who have performed at Homegrown Live over the past 10 years and helped raise over $100,000 for the Joe Chithalen Memorial Musical Instrument Lending Library, aka Joe’s MILL. The three-day event includes the film screening, workshops, multiple jams and concerts, and a grand finale performance this Saturday at the Residence Inn by Marriott.
Kingston band Paper Ladies, who are among the 12 bands featured in Live in Kingston, will be playing a short set at The Screening Room prior to the movie.
“Paper Ladies were on a bill with one of the other bands we were shooting,” says Middaugh. “I looked them up before filming and they reminded me a lot of [90s Kingston-based band] The Inbreds. Tom [Draper] has such a great voice and writes great melodies.”
Middaugh and his crew went through each band’s repertoire in advance and worked with the performers to make a final selection, but Paper Ladies had other ideas.
“There was a song I really liked of theirs that we wanted to use,” says Middaugh. “They kept talking about this new song that they were really excited about, which is the one that ended up in the movie.”
Now that Live in Kingston is about a year and a half old, Middaugh considers the film a success.
“The goal was to get it done,” he quips. “We got a CKAF (City of Kingston Arts Fund) grant. They were kind enough to give us money, and you owe them a finished product. So we got it done and people started saying ‘Hey, this is an actual movie!’”
He has noticed some of the impact that the film has had on the local music scene.
“People come up to me at the screenings and ask about specific bands,” says Middaugh. “A band like Forty Seven Teeth, who I guess have broken up now, we have this time capsule of them playing on the rooftop of a hotel. I’m so glad we filmed them. In a local way, in a small way, for sure there has been exposure for these Kingston bands.”
Check out Live in Kingston, with a special performance by Paper Ladies, this Thursday at 7:30 pm at The Screening Room. Tickets are $10.