Welcome to VLH Films a New Jersey, USA based video and production company servicing diverse locations and subjects.
NJ MUSIC DOCUMENTARY PROJECT:
NOISY BASEMENTS AND BARS – A Scene within a scene
2.16.16 – In High School in 1987 I saw my first show in New Brunswick in the basement bar Rutgers recreational center that was a benefit for WRSU that featured a Westfield band called Animation, Opium Vala (Matt Pinfield’s band) and a few other local Jersey bands. We had our scene running for two years called the Radical Rock Reactionaries in high school at WHS and had SST’s Das Damen, Tiny Lights from Hoboken and a bunch of local bands like Animation, Whirling Dervishes and New Brunswick’s DUH among others. The benefit we went to support was for WRSU longest running radio show called Overnight Sensations. This was our beacon into a very cool music scene and could not wait to become a part of it someday. Fast forward to 1991 and I’m playing my first show at The Court Tavern and the side bar at The Roxy in the prog-funk-alt band Mr. Thumb with Butthead (AKA BUZZKILL). A year after that we would be co-headlining rock clubs with amazing talent and that thrill seemed like it would last forever.
I published several fanzines including DIGESTOR and GIMP, wrote articles for a couple other music rags then eventually was one of the first local fanzines to go online as slashandburn.net and then the music blog reviewstalker.com which still publishes periodically.
On top of all that “music writing” I played and wrote music in a slew of bands in a very short period of time in the 90’s to 00’s after Mr.Thumb. Which included playing shows, toured and made records with my friends in the throng-melodic core of BubbleGum Thunder, the art rock of Suran Song in Stag, the noisy pop of Aviso’Hara and then my longest running band Eastern Anchors with my best musical brother Walter Verde.
The fact remains I still love music, playing when I can and I’ve never really made fucking dime. Ok maybe a few dimes but the return on the investment is terrible but as a artist I still do this fucking thing even though you can’t hang it on wall. The experience and memory exists in people’s minds. That is the reward for me.
When I took a long look back at the 30 years mark and what sort of documentation there was for an amazing legacy of Central Jersey bands it felt thin and to be honest it was patch-work at best from a film and documentation perspective. The body of work and 1,000’s of band and releases were there but no record. No liner notes.
In this film, NOISY BASEMENTS AND BARS, I want to show and tell a story of a the golden era of the New Brunswick Music scene and how it was eaten by progress and affected many lives and careers and somehow bands still manage to produce and come out of central jersey. It’s hard to describe the scale of a giant scene that I’ve watched disappear before my eyes and ears. The music scene has migrated in way and become just as obscure to me when I was 15 and first discovered WRSU and WFMU on the left of the dial respectfully as well City Gardens and shows at CBGB’s. Radio really opened a whole world of local music and we relied on word of mouth or flyers we would find in our local record stores. In this journey I’ve met a lot of people and heard lots of folklore and stories. Local record stores have mostly gone away or even burned down as is the case with Sound Station in Westfield. I started asking myself where in hell are kids going to discover culture first hand that is not on the internet? How is this affecting music, Art and creativity? Has major media won and youth are just a bunch of FAPers? When a place of cultural exchanges gets knocked down does anything replace it? What happens? Where does art go? Asbury? I don’t know.
Over the next year or so I’m going to be answering these questions interviewing club owners, DJ’s, Booking agents label folks, people who made it or didn’t and the local band folk and scenesters who made it all happen. I want them to help me define exactly what I mean when I say the phrase NOISY BASEMENTS AND BARS out loud. People who were part of scene that was very dear to me from from the late 1980’s to present day. Some of whom i know and other are just a liner note or anecdote at bar . The clock is ticking and I’ve given myself one year to get my giant wish list of people I want to talk to in the can. If you want to be involved in some part in this project just get in touch. Email me [vivalahara @ gmail dot com or call me 732 768 32 36.] I’m looking for interns for production, content and Co-Producers..