John Schultz's 1996 directorial debut BANDWAGON has never been released on DVD, but it's available now streaming on Netflix Instant.
This is great news as its a hilarious indie mostly locally shot, and features a strong soundtrack with songs by Greg Kendall. The film focuses on a fictional band just starting out named Circus Monkey - an endearing quartet of indie underdogs played by Lee Holmes, Kevin Corrigan, Steve Parlavecchio, and Matthew Hennessey.
N.C. native Schultz (formerly the drummer for the Connells) enlisted his old band mate lead singer Doug MacMillan to play the band's zen-like manager Linus Tate.
The film was largely shot in Raleigh, N.C., with many recognizable Triangle area locations appearing such as the Cat’s Cradle, the Brewery, and the Rialto Theatre, where Circus Monkey plays a climatic Battle of the Bands showcase.
Holmes is the protagonist, an earnest withdrawn guitarist /songwriter who seems to use the name Ann in every song he writes - “So Long (Ann),” “Ann It Goes,” and the incredibly catchy “It Couldn't Be Ann” among them.
Holmes meets drummer Hennessey who is working as a clerk at School Kids Records, and before you know it they soon recruit bassist Parlavecchio and lead guitarist Corrigan to join their band.
Corrigan is for sure the most recognizable actor in BANDWAGON as he was the kid stirring the sauce in a crucial scene in the Scorsese classic GOODFELLAS and he’s gone on to be in many films and television series including PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, Freaks And Geeks, Community, and UNSTOPPABLE.
The bulk of the film concerns the band taking to the road in a old beat-up van with manager MacMillan in tow.
Circus Monkey’s scrappy misadventures involving a gun, bar brawls, and the object of Holmes' affection - Ann (Lisa Keller) keep the film rolling from beat to beat.
Despite some stiff acting, BANDWAGON is a thoroughly enjoyable musical comedy that is really nice to see again - I long ago lost my VHS copy of the film so I was thrilled to find out from a friend that it is available via Netflix Instant.
Indie comedy fans as well as rock fans of all kinds should eat it up too.