Last night I attended a special screening of the concert documentary I edited, nine years ago, First Avenue: Hayday 1985-92 (2006). The film was directed by Rick Fuller, who made a lot of music videos back in the day as one half of Harder/Fuller Films, with Phil Harder. I first met Rick when I returned to Minnesota from four years in Texas, attending graduate school and working on TV Junkie (2006). Rick liked the effects I had done for TVJ and wanted that same aesthetic for the First Avenue film he was planning.
Hayday was compiled from footage that was originally shot for public access television in Minneapolis and club promotions. There were no releases or anything signed by the bands – nobody thought of such things at the time – and the old three-quarter inch tapes lay in the First Ave basement and a few other locations for more than a decade; many of them unlabeled. Rick literally saved this history from the dumpster and convinced a few other people to volunteer their time and talents to help create this labor of love. For me it was like a surreal dream. I was a teenager in the late 80s and I would hear people older than me talking about this great club in Minneapolis where all the cool acts played. To play a central role in preserving this time capsule of a great era in Minnesota Music History was an honor. I only wish the copyright issues surrounding Hayday didn’t prevent more people from enjoying it.
Rick spoke briefly before and after the screening, with some generous praise for me. I think that’s the first time I’ve been singled out in a crowd and have everyone clap for me. But the most moving part of the night was Rick’s hesitation. He was genuinely choked up over the people in the film who are no longer with us and the audience understood this, they felt it too, even if many of us didn’t know those people personally, as Rick had. We all spontaneously began applauding in solidarity.
When we were working on First Avenue: Hayday, we hoped it would be somewhat on par with Urgh! A Music War (1981). Not a big, successful, well known movie, but a real document of a time and place, of a feeling and a community, that people can look back upon and learn from. Rewatching the film last night I felt proud that we were so successful.