‘Tap’ Into America

There are few things in life that can get me laughing harder than a well-timed joke taken from the 1984 film, “This Is Spinal Tap.”

Thirty years after its initial release, the Rob Reiner mockumentary exhibits what I perceive to be the pinnacle of improvisational comedy.

The film is a completely fictitious depiction of an aging British rock band, named Spinal Tap, which is desperately struggling to stay relevant in a world that is in a perpetual state of musical flux. Clocking in at well under 90 minutes, it manages to cleverly weave completely contrived plotlines regarding the band’s history – as far back as the late 1950s – into a behind-the-scenes look at the band’s foray into heavy metal during its 1984 “Smell the Glove” tour of America.

Ultimately, the object of the movie is to provide a humorous look at the entitled and glamorous lifestyle that glorified rock icons, particularly of the ’70s and ’80s, seemed to regularly exhibit. The members of Spinal Tap are oftentimes clueless, oblivious and sometimes downright ignorant of how the real world operates around them; yet they are surprisingly competent musicians and songwriters who constantly stumble from one faux pas and stroke of bad luck to the next.

Many of the hilariously unfortunate things to befall the group were inspired by actual events that occurred to real rock bands – such as Yes getting lost backstage before a concert and U2’s Bono being trapped in a stage prop during a song. (I’ve heard Robert Plant, Eddie Van Halen and Steven Tyler vocally took umbrage to certain elements of the film, as well, because they hit a little too close to home.) This is made more humorous by the fact that they are all middle-aged men, raised on the early rock ‘n’ roll and skiffle music that defined the 1950s, attempting to maintain their bygone popularity in a music scene dominated by heavy metal by penning songs such as “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight,” “Big Bottom” and “Hell Hole.”

Ultimately, it’s the dialogue that gets me. A vast majority of the film was ad-libbed, but it’s done so flawlessly that a viewer could count on one hand the number of times it really shows.

As a musician myself, I can’t say I’ve experienced very many of the catastrophic events weathered by the members of Spinal Tap; but I certainly can appreciate a film that so seamlessly intertwines original music and humor into a single entity. Upon discovering the film with my high school bandmates and best friends back in 2007, I’m still dropping film references and anecdotes in conversation to this day.

Although the film’s production quality and the time period depicted therein are now quite dated, the humor is timeless. And though the film only recently turned 30 years old, I can vouch for its cult popularity among at least two generations as my father and his friends were all fans, as well.

Oh, and if anyone was wondering why some Marshall amplifiers have a volume knob that goes up to 11, they can thank Spinal Tap’s guitarist Nigel Tufnel for that little tidbit.

And now, here’s what you can expect to find in the area this week.

HIGHLIGHTS

“Big City Free Concert Series” To Resume Friday: The third concert of the 2014 “Big City Free Concert Series” at the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena will return Friday with a performance by Derek Davis and the Tasty Groove.

Due to the TNA Impact Wrestling event being held later in the evening, the performance will have a special start time of 5:30 p.m.

The series will continue next week with a 6:30 p.m. performance by local favorites, Smackdab.

There is no cost to attend.

The performance will take place outside the arena on Lafayette Street, between Second and Third streets. Fore more information, call 484-2624, or visit www.jamestownarena.com.

“Great Galaxian Bash” Set For Friday: A one-of-a-kind wrestling event, dubbed “The Great Galaxian Bash,” is slated for 7:30 p.m. at the Allen Park Ice Rink. The event features professional independent wrestlers portraying a selection of characters originating from Filsinger Games’ popular tabletop wrestling card game, “Champions of the Galaxy.” In addition, several other wrestlers are on the bill to partake in a classic wrestling match, the “Legends of Wrestling Supercard,” following the galactic showdown. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Chautauqua County Humane Society, and donations of unopened and unused pet food, toys and cat litter will also be accepted. Free alien masks will be given to those who donate to the Humane Society, and to those who make the most noise throughout the evening.

Tickets are $20 for the front row, $15 for rows 2-5 and $10 for general admission. Children 12 and under can get in for $7, and can sit anywhere but the front row for that amount. For more information, visit www.championsofthegalaxy.com/event.php.

Annual St. James Festival Set For Saturday: The St. James Catholic Church will host its annual St. James Festival Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m. at the church site. A variety of food, activities and entertainment will be available. Music will be provided by Doc and Bill Drellow, Chuck and Angelo Giuffre as “Happy Days,” and the Velvet Cabbies. A performance by the St. James Italian Heritage Dance Club will also take place. The festival will continue into Sunday, as well.

The St. James Catholic Church is located at 27 Allen St. in Jamestown. For more information, call the church at 487-0125.

Chicken Barbecue Fundraiser In Ashville To Be Held Saturday: A chicken barbecue fundraiser for the benefit of Ashville Days Fireworks will be held Saturday from 3-8 p.m. at the Llama Club. A Chinese auction and 50/50 giveaway will be held, and music will be provided by a DJ. For those unable to attend, monetary donations can be mailed to the Llama Club Fireworks Committee at P.O. Box 163, Ashville, NY. The Ashville Days Fireworks will be held July 19.

The Llama Club is located on Route 474 in Ashville. For more information, call 789-3445.

KC And The Sunshine Band To Perform In Salamanca Saturday: KC and the Sunshine Band, a multi-member and multifaceted group known for No. 1 hit songs such as “That’s The Way I Like It” and “Get Down Tonight,” will take the stage at the Seneca Allegany Events Center at 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets start at $15.

The Seneca Allegany Events Center is located at 777 Seneca Allegany Blvd. in Salamanca. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 945-9300, or visit www.senecaalleganycasino.com/entertainment.

HAPPENINGS

To include an upcoming show or event in this column, email gpaterniti@post-journal.com or call 487-1111, ext. 243 by Monday.

Tonight

Mahajibee Blues: 6:30 p.m., Lakeside Park in Mayville

The Kokomo Time Band: 6:30 p.m., Ellery Town Park in Ellery

Barbara Jean: 7 p.m., Richard O. Hartley Park in Lakewood

Razz and Friends: 7 p.m., Davis Park in Falconer

Bluegrass Jam: 7 p.m., Lakewood Legion, 174 Chautauqua Ave. in Lakewood

Mark Mincarelli: 7 p.m., Hadley House, 3328 Hadley Bay Road in Stow

Friday

Chris Vogt: 6 p.m., Lakeview Hotel, 13 Water St. in Mayville

Bill Ward: 6 p.m., The Wine Cellar, 309 N. Main St. in Jamestown

Geezers: 6 p.m., The Pad, 1064 Route 394 in Kennedy

Greg Ford: 7 p.m., Lakewood Legion, 174 Chautauqua Ave. in Lakewood

Matt Homan Duo: 7 p.m., Hadley House, 3328 Hadley Bay Road in Stow

Pressure Sensitive: 7:30 p.m., Vikings Park Lake Lodge, 4923 Route 430 in Maple Springs

Derek Davis and the Tasty Groove: 9 p.m., Yesterdays, 103 Chautauqua Ave. in Lakewood

Black Widow: 10 p.m., Lakeview Hotel, 13 Water St. in Mayville

1980 Something: 10 p.m., Bullfrog Hotel, 1414 E. Second St. in Jamestown

Mid-Life Crisis: 10 p.m., Village Casino, 1 Lakeside Drive in Bemus Point

Saturday

Scroggins: 6 p.m., The Pad, 1064 Route 394 in Kennedy

Joint Effort: 7 p.m., Busti Fire Department Gazebo, 886 Mill Road in Busti

Dirty Mountain Band: 7 p.m., Hadley House, 3328 Hadley Bay Road in Stow

Ralph Chamberlain Band: 8 p.m., Celoron Legion, 26 Jackson Ave. in Jamestown

“Stage Fright” Screening: 8 p.m., Reg Lenna Center for the Arts, 116 E. Third St. in Jamestown

MJT: 9 p.m., Steener’s Pub, 3022 Route 430 in Greenhurst

Headbangers Ball: 10 p.m., Bullfrog Hotel, 1414 E. Second St. in Jamestown

Sunday

Sean Patrick McGraw: 2 p.m., Lakeview Hotel, 13 Water St. in Mayville

“Stage Fright” Screening: 2 p.m., Reg Lenna Center for the Arts, 116 E. Third St. in Jamestown

Day Old Soup: 2 p.m., The Pad, 1064 Route 394 in Kennedy

Amanda Barton and Bill Ward: 4:30 p.m., Hadley House, 3328 Hadley Bay Road in Stow

Tuesday

Greg Ford: 6 p.m., Lakeview Hotel, 13 Water St. in Mayville