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Kendra Meinert column: Holly film nearly done; Winter Dance Party rolls on

8:06 PM, Jan. 30, 2013  |  Comments
John Mueller leads the Winter Dance Party Band through one of many Buddy Holly songs at the Riverside Ballroom in Green Bay Monday night.
John Mueller leads the Winter Dance Party Band through one of many Buddy Holly songs at the Riverside Ballroom in Green Bay Monday night.
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It has been five years in the making, but the filmmakers behind a documentary on the ill-fated final tour of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper that rolled through Green Bay 54 years ago, have the finish line in sight.

"Gotta Travel On: The Winter Dance Party Odyssey'' is expected to be released this year, said Sevan Garabedian, a co-producer along with Jim McCool and Dave Hansen. While distribution hasn't been determined yet, BBC and PBS are both strong contenders for its eventual release on television, he said.

Garabedian put out a call several years ago to people in Green Bay who were at the Winter Dance Party show at the Riverside Ballroom on Feb. 1, 1959, and were willing to share photos or memories from that brutally cold night. He received a great response locally and from other Midwest stops of the tour, discovering more than 50 never-before-seen photos. The film crew also did interviews at the ballroom in 2009.

With John Mueller's annual re-creation of the WDP playing that same Riverside stage on Friday night - on the same Feb. 1 date that Holly, Valens and The Big Bopper did - Garabedian is putting out one last call in case there's anybody who remembers dancing to "That'll Be the Day'' that historica night at the Riverside who hasn't yet contacted him. He can be reached at sevan1@sympatico.ca or (514) 931-6959, and there's a "reward'' for anyone with photos.

During the time-consuming research of the project, Garabedian notes that two of the original Winter Dance Party musicians interviewed for the film have died: Crickets drummer Carl Bunch in March 2011 and Freddie Milano of The Belmonts in January 2012.

With nearly all the necessary financing for the project secured, the producers expect to head to the U.K. soon to edit and do some post-production work, Garabedian said.

They're optimistic that the documentary "will be ready to rock by the fall'' and are hoping to be able to do mini-premieres in all 11 cities that Holly, Valens and The Big Bopper played before the plane crash on Feb. 3, 1959, near Clear Lake, Iowa, that took their lives.

"We filmed our fan interviews in these cities, and it would be a real pleasure to view the final film with our very first supporters,'' Garabedian said.

In the meantime, if you've never been to Mueller's very authentic and loving tribute to the Winter Dance Party, consider it on the list of things every Green Bay resident should experience at least once. It's nostalgia at its best, amazing music and always a reminder of how lucky the city is to still have the Riverside, which is probably why it has been packing the place with every age imaginable for years.

One other thing to know about the WDP show: Weather on that night has a knack for mimicking the conditions Holly & Co. experienced during those weeks in 1959. Thus, the forecast for Friday evening is minus 2 degrees. Wear those poodle skirts at your own risk.

Concert news

It never hurts to have a No. 1 song on the charts when your show is going on sale, which puts Randy Houser in a pretty sweet spot. The title track off his new "How Country Feels'' album hit the top slot on Billboard's country charts last week, and tickets for his March 7 concert at the Meyer Theatre go on sale at 11 a.m. Friday.

Houser, also known for his 2008 hit "Boots On,'' is getting attention for his current album on Stoney Creek Records. His Meyer stop, part of the Y100 Country Series, is among the headlining shows he's doing before hooking up with Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert on their Locked and Reloaded Tour in mid-April.

Tickets are $25 and $20 and go on sale at 11 a.m. Friday through Ticket Star outlets, (800) 895-0071 and www.ticketstaronline.com.

The Meyer's Near Water Concert Series keeps the momentum up with the announcement of a performance by Ex Cops on Feb. 26. The New York indie-rock quintet released "True Hallucinations'' last week. SPIN proclaimed it "unshakeable Kiwi- and Britpop-infected bedroom psych,'' which either makes perfect sense or no sense.

Tickets go on sale for $10 at 11 a.m. Friday through Ticket Star.

Call it crazy (as in Crazy Horse), but it'll be all Neil Young all night for Neil Fest on March 15 at the Riverside Ballroom.

Local artists will pay homage to the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer by playing some 35 cuts from his 37 studio albums. Look for all the tracks you'd expect - "Cinnamon Girl,'' "Heart of Gold,'' "Old Man,'' Like a Hurricane,'' "Down by the River,'' "Cowgirl in the Sand,'' "Southern Man,'' etc. - and a few you might not off albums like "Trans'' and "Hawks & Doves.''

That's a hefty order, but Gary White and The Rockets, who will host the night, Two Way Street, Hoot, Dana Erlandson, Galynne Goodwill, Fun w/ Atoms, The Pat Smith Duo and Courtney Hermes with Brendan O'Brien have all signed on.

No mention of "Rockin' in the Free World'' yet, but maybe for an all-star jam finale?

Tickets are $15 and $20 and on sale at the Riverside and The Exclusive Co.

Etc.

Even with the flu bug tailing her, bet Grace Potter & The Nocturnals' concert last week at the Meyer Theatre was more memorable than her first appearance at the venue. Back when she opened for Taj Mahal in 2005, she toured in an RV that was parked behind the theater. Someone broke in and swiped her CDs, which were later recovered at a bar down the street. Pretty sure having a near-soldout crowd follow your command to "Let me hear you roar!'' - and traveling in a shiny, sleek touring bus - is the better way to go.

Have you tried the iced tea at Caffe Espresso? Jazz saxophonist Mindi Abair has, and she loves it. She told the audience at her Meyer show last week that she couldn't wait to get to Green Bay so she could pop next door for the tea, which she had on a previous Meyer visit.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

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I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
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It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
34%
1272 votes

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