Langston Hughes African American Film Festival

Some 40 shorts and features screen this year, most at the Central Cinema. Most screenings are $5-$8, with a $50 festival pass. See official website for full schedule, from which we recommend Jennifer Maas' local music doc Wheedle’s Groove (7 p.m. Wed. May 4). Narrated by Sir Mix-a-Lot, the film is an unabashed celebration of the live music scene, predominately black, that thrived in the CD before disco, grunge, and hip-hop. Young musicians from that era are now in their ’50s and ’60s, most of them not bitter in their recollections, though few had sustained music careers. The lone exception is Kenny G, who says our rain and isolation helped him and his Franklin High School buddies practice: “If it wasn’t for those rainy days, I wouldn’t be here. Had it been sunny everyday, I probably wouldn’t be as good.” His band, Cold, Bold & Together, opened for touring acts like Earth, Wind & Fire and Kool and the Gang, as did other Seattle groups. Does their music hold up today? Wrong question. Their 45s are lively, catchy artifacts, cheaply recorded, and very much played, live, rather than programmed by computer. They were good enough to be aired on local radio (KYAC), but leagues below the polish of contemporary acts in L.A. A few Seattle bands tried their luck down there, but as the film sadly relates, none but Kenny G ever caught a break. (NR) BRIAN MILLER

Sat., April 30, 7 p.m.; May 1-8, 2011

 
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