The premiere of local filmmaker Cheryl Eagan-Donovan’s All Kindsa Girls a week ago last Tuesday marked a first for Boston Film/Video Foundation monthly screenings at the Coolidge Corner Theatre: never before had demand for tickets forced BF/VF to add a second screening at the debut of a low-budget, independently produced documentary. It was also probably the first time that refreshments at a BF/VF screening consisted of, appropriately enough, a cooler of beer.
The occasion was the unveiling of an eagerly anticipated film about the notorious local garage-punk band the Real Kids. Though rough around the edges (much of the live footage is of middling quality), All Kindsa Girls (named for the band’s one bona fide hit) offers a frank and fascinating look at the trials and tribulations of a band who never lived up to the promise of their early years, when they were to Boston what the Ramones were to Queens. Specifically, the film delivers a close-up portrait of John Felice, the singer/songwriter who’s been the creative force behind the band since the ’70s, when the teenage Felice left the Modern Lovers to embark on what became a narcotics-addled mess of a career.
Addictions and occasional spats of bad luck kept the Real Kids from achieving commercial success. But Felice’s ragged charisma and genuine talent have helped maintain a loyal, international Real Kids cult following. Through interviews with family members and bandmates, other artists young and old, and Felice himself, the Real Kids emerge as a band who have earned a special place in the history of Boston rock, with Felice as the tragic yet very likable hero.
Three nights later, at the Lizard Lounge, a promising new chapter in the story of Boston rock was being written as young Jake Brennan and his band the Confidence Men celebrated the release of their first, five-song CD-single "Believe Me" (on Jack of Hearts). The son of longtime Boston singer/songwriter Dennis Brennan, Jake has quietly emerged as a major talent in the making over the past couple of years and as an artist very much in touch with his Boston roots. He demonstrated that Friday by playing a rootsy reworking of "Stayin’ On the Right Side of Satan," a song Nat Freedberg wrote when his garage-punk band the Titanics (another classic Boston band who stumbled commercially) were transforming into the Satanics in the early ’90s. Jake also brought his dad onstage to lead the Confidence Men through a fierce version of Neil Young’s "Why Do I Keep Fucking Up?" And he drew on the talents of another of Boston’s secret weapons when he invited Jimmy Ryan of the Blood Oranges and half a dozen other local acts up to sit in with the band.
Equally impressive was Brennan’s determination to make his CD-release party a real party. CD-release shows are usually nothing more than just another gig. But Brennan filled the evening with special guests, inspired covers, and even a troupe of burlesque dancing girls. Brennan doesn’t seem to have enough strong songs of his own just yet, but he’s working with Paul Kolderie on a full-length CD due out later this year. If he’s looking for tunes to cover in the meantime, the Confidence Men seem quite capable of pulling off a searing version of "All Kindsa Girls."