Basically an in-house production by Light in the Attic Records, this well-crafted doc is a companion to its archival discs from Seattle's late '60s and early '70s. (Director Jennifer Maas is married to the label's founder, Matt Sullivan, also interviewed in the film.) Narrated by Sir Mix-a-Lot and named for the 2004 compilation album, Wheedle's Groove is an unabashed celebration of the live music scene, predominately black, that thrived in the CD before disco, grunge, and hip-hop. Young musicians from that era are now in their 50s and 60s, most of them not bitter in their recollections, though few had sustained music careers. The lone exception is Kenny G, who says our rain and isolation helped him and his Franklin High School buddies practice: "If it wasn't for those rainy days, I wouldn't be here. Had it been sunny every day, I probably wouldn't be as good." His band, Cold, Bold & Together, opened for touring acts like Earth, Wind & Fire and Kool and the Gang, as did other Seattle groups. Does their music hold up today? Wrong question. Their 45s are lively, catchy artifacts, cheaply recorded, and very much played, live, rather than programmed by computer. They were good enough to be aired on local radio (KYAC), but leagues below the polish of contemporary acts in L.A. A few Seattle bands tried their luck down there, but, as the film sadly relates, none but Kenny G ever caught a break.
Yes, that's the future Kenny G (second from right) with fellow members of Cold, Bold & Together.
Runs at Northwest Film Forum, Fri., Sept. 3–Thurs., Sept. 9. Not rated. 87 minutes.