In today's economy, municipalities seldom have the money to fund even the safest, most predictable art projects, let alone a documentary about rock and roll like 2002's Sweet Lunacy: A Brief History of Boulder Rock, which screens tonight in Boulder. But according to writer Leland Rucker, who co-directed the project with Don Chapman, now the overseer of Boulder's Channel 8 public-access service, the film never would have gotten off the ground were it not for the largesse of local officials.
"Back in, probably, the year 2000, somebody at the Boulder Arts Commission was interested in doing different kinds of projects -- and a couple of people on the board were into music," notes Rucker, who covered the entertainment beat at the Colorado Daily for many years. "They started talking about doing something on the Boulder music scene, and one of the members, Erica Doss, who was a professor at CU at the time, and is now at Notre Dame, knew me. The two of us met with Don, and after a little while, Don and I looked at each other -- and it was like, 'We're going to do this!'"
Rucker and Chapman spent the next couple of years tracking down and chatting with assorted musicians who'd played and worked in the area over a span of several decades. Many of them made sizable marks on a regional or national level, including Buffalo Springfield and Poco co-founder Richie Furay, surf-rock purveyors The Astronauts, Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids, Zephyr (featuring the late Tommy Bolin) and Michael Woody of the TooHigh Band. Others, such as Dusty Drapes and the Dusters, Magic Music, co-starring longtime scenester Chris Daniels, and Orchestra of Clouds, led by the highly entertaining Tim Duffy, were far better known within Boulder's city limits than they were beyond them. But there's no caste system evident in Sweet Lunacy, which celebrates the town's musical legacy in an affectionate and very personal way.
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Rucker recalls the film's first public debut, at a jam-packed Boulder Theater, as a particular highlight -- and since then, the doc has gotten a wide airing, both on Channel 8 broadcasts and the station's website, where it can be watched in its entirety using the on-demand function. But it should be even more fun to experience Sweet Lunacy at tonight's screening, in the company of other music lovers.
"Ultimately, for me and Don, the whole idea of the film is to get people to see it," Rucker points out. "I don't have any financial stake in it or anything like that. But it's really great that, even this many years on, people are still discovering it, and the film is still reaching an audience."
For more ways to rock the night and kill the day, go to westword.com/calendar.