Tag Archives: Bluegrass

Van Heffer: Elvis, Ozzy and the Brazilian Bus Plunge

2318534Why aren’t there more films about effeminate Elvis impersonators doing Ozzy Osbourne songs with a crack bluegrass band? Co-writer/director/producer (and Nashville music producer) Scott Rouse set out to remedy this omission with his short film, Van Heffer.

The Comedy Central pilot traces the life, career and mysterious death of Sherman Van Heffer (Shane Caldwell) told in the style of the mockumentary pioneered by Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer with 1984’s This is Spinal Tap.

Van Heffer is peppered with a virtual who’s who of bluegrass legends playing themselves (Del McCoury, Doc Watson, Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas, Vince Gill) as well as Nashville notables such as Station Inn owner J.T. Gray and Wichita Rutherford, which lend the film its sharp, sarcastic authenticity.

To the best of my knowledge nothing further came of the project with Comedy Central, but the pilot has become a cult classic, and was a hit at the 2006 Nashville Film Festival.

Look for yours truly (with a transitory southern accent) as the record store clerk. The running time is a mere 26 minutes, so there is very little commitment. Much like my acting.

Andy Griffith: The Music of Mayberry and Beyond

Had Andy Griffith lived one day longer, he would have died on the 4th of July. This seems fitting for a man as American as apple pie, yet his simple modesty would never have allowed it. Thus, Andy Griffith passed away last week on July 3, one month into his 86th year, leaving a monumental contribution to American culture behind him.

He was best known as an actor, playing the straight-man, small-town Sheriff Andy Taylor in the eponymous television show he helped create – and with it an entire world. His childhood was rich with storytelling and, especially, music. The eccentric residents of the fictional Mayberry were inspired by the colorful characters that peppered his childhood in Mount Airy, North Carolina. While it is true he grew up dirt poor in the small southern town, even reduced to sleeping in dresser drawers as an infant, Andy Griffith was no bumpkin. In 1949, the ambitious and multifaceted Griffith graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Music, where he served as the Men’s Glee Club President.

Music played a key role in the original “Andy Griffith Show,” which ran from 1960-1968. The Sheriff could often be found pickin’ a guitar on the front porch of a summer evening, but things really started to cook when the Darlings came to town. Continue reading →