Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Delivering Deliverance

French poster for Deliverance
On Saturday, September 26, 2009, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art will present "Delivering Deliverance with Clint Maedgen and Helen Gillet." As part of our ongoing series, The Art of Southern Film: Established Masters & Emerging Makers produced by Madeleine Molyneaux, the Ogden has commissioned a new original score composed and to be performed live by Maedgen and Gillet.

Clint Maedgen is a multi-instrument singer, songwriter, composer and arranger born in Lafayette, LA. He started his career in New Orleans twelve years ago as a bicycle delivery boy in the French Quarter, and over the past twelve years, has risen to the top of the New Orleans music scene, winning the 2009 Big Easy Award for Best Male Performer. Most widely known for his work as leader of the cabaret game-show circus, The New Orleans Bingo! Show, Maedgen also plays for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and leads Liquidrone, Clint Maedgen with Strings and Clint Maedgen +9. He sang the National Anthem with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for the BCS National Championship at the Superdome last year. He has also performed at Radio City Music Hall, the White House and Ogden After Hours.

As you can see from the short film below (blending archival film with his own photographs), his talents do not stop with sound.

by wadesumrall
Helen Gillet is no stranger to the New Orleans music scene, herself. Growing up in Belgium, Chicago and Singapore, Gillet moved to New Orleans in 2002. Trained as a classical cellist, she has performed and recorded with a wide range of projects, including Happy Talk Band, James Singleton, Leroy Jones, Mafouz, Moose Jackson, the Zydepunks and Yippie poet Ed Sanders. According to her bio, she "uses electromagnetic effects, looping and vocal percussion to explore sound as well as the wide range of natural sounds possibly drawn, knocked, rubbed, sensed, bounced, scraped, plucked, and sung out through the acoustic cello."

The 1972 film, produced and directed by John Boorman, is based on the 1970 novel of the same name by Georgia-born poet and novelist, James Dickey, who performed the role of the sheriff. The film is set on the Cahulawassee River, in a valley soon to be destroyed by a dam built to supply Atlanta with water. The allegorical theme of man against nature is set up when the character of Lewis (played by Burt Reynolds) lectures his friends on why they should brave the river:
"...because they're buildin' a dam across the Cahulawassee River. They're gonna flood a whole valley, Bobby, that's why. Dammit, they're drownin' the river...Just about the last wild, untamed, unpolluted, unf--ked up river in the South."
The themes of man vs. nature, city vs. country, and man vs. adversity all find their focus with the River. It becomes both setting and player. Through my conversations with Maedgen and Gillet, it is clear that the River will play a major role in their composition and performance, as well, perhaps leaving the audience with a musical memory of iconic film beyond the enduring Dueling Banjos scene.
Doors open at 7:30. The film screens at 8. A whiskey reception will follow.

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