Help Kickstart A Film that is truly worthy of our attention, “Rise: The Story of Augustines”
Portland based partners Joshua Kincaid and former Boxer Rebellion guitarist Todd Howe have formed Big Vulture, a production group that is attempting to make a documentary based around Billy McCarthy, Eric Sanderson, and Rob Allen who are known as the band Augustines. Todd and Joshua have launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project and they need our help. I truly believe in this project and ask that you would take a minute or two to watch this trailer:
Now, I know that theBlanketFort.net is dedicated to Seattle based cinema, but for the last two years, some of the members of the band Augustines have called Seattle home, so they get extra love. Here is my story of how this band has touched my life.
I listen to Seattle based radio station KEXP religiously. In fact, when the radio dial veers away from 90.3, I get a little anxious and grumpy. Ask my wife and kids, they’ve been a part of these episodes on more than one occasion.
Back in 2007 while I was working as a finish carpenter here in Seattle, a song came on the radio that made me stop what I was doing and listen at full attention. The band was a New York group called Pela and the song was “Tenement Teeth”. It had felt like an eternity since I’d heard a band with the kind of intensity that Pela brought to their music, and from that moment on I was completely hooked. I followed Pela, waiting for the Seattle date to be set, but when the time came to see them at Neumo’s with U.S.E. (United States of Electronica), there wasn’t a dime in my pocket to be spared. When the band played the infamous Mural Amphitheatre show which saw frontman Billy McCarthy taking a fall on stage which broke his foot, I missed it. After that, I didn’t hear much from the Pela camp until that next September when the band posted a farewell message on their website – Pela was no more.
Fast forward two years to September 2011. As I was listening to KEXP one morning, John Richards played a track called “Book of James” and the voice was all too familiar – it was Billy McCarthy and he was in a new band with former Pela member Eric Sanderson. They were now called We Are Augustines.
I totally freaked the fuck out.
Now, usually when I get into a new band, I go to their website and of course have missed them playing in town by like, a day or two. HOWEVER, after the song was over, John announced the the band would be headlining at the Neptune theatre that next day. I was there. As I was driving to the box office to get my tickets the next day, I recognized a guy walking down the sidewalk near the Neptune’s stage entrance and I new immediately that it was Billy McCarthy, Augustines’ singer and guitarist. Without thinking, I yanked the car over and hopped out calling Billy’s name. He turned around, looking pretty surprised, and I was able to introduce myself and thank him for all the music. Billy McCarthy is probably one of the most gracious musicians that I have ever met and he made what I would later consider a pretty intrusive act, feel welcomed.
Billy chatted with me for a couple of minutes and offered me some help if I couldn’t get tickets. After the show, I emailed the band thanking them for their show and I shared with them how Pela’s music had touched me and how I was looking forward to their new endeavor. The next day, Eric Sanderson, the band’s bassist and keyboard player, wrote me back – this has never happened to me before. Eric was so kind in his email and it really felt like the band cared, which brought We Are Augustines even closer to my heart. My wife and I have seen Augustines two more times since that first show and they just keep getting better each time we see them.
Just like anything, when I get into something, I get into it. I do the research. We Are Augustines story is one of tragedy, struggle, but above all else perseverance. Augustines’ story has inspired me in so many ways. Their tenacity toward their craft kept my guitar in my hand when all I wanted to do was sell it and get emergency room drunk off of the proceeds. We all have our own demons, but Augustines put their’s up on a billboard for all to see while at the same time saying “Yeah, things get screwed up, life messes with you, but you just have to keep going! That’s what we’re doing!”
Billy’s story alone is worthy of a feature film. Raised by an addict mother who was plagued by mental illness and never knowing the identity of his father, he transitioned to foster care where he was raised through most of adolescence along with his younger brother Jim. As the boys grew up, Billy struck out to follow his musical passion but Jim’s demons began to surface as he struggled with his inherited mental illness and addiction. After forming Pela and working with the group, Billy received a call from a homeless shelter telling him that his mother had passed away and they asked him to come claim the body and gather her belongings. When he arrived, there was little to gather aside from a couple of packs of cigarettes and a pipe. Billy returned to Brooklyn to continue performing with Pela. Sometime later, Billy’s correspondence with his brother Jim began to become disquieting. His letters to Billy had become erratic and Billy grew immediately concerned. What happened next breaks my heart to even write about, so I choose not to, I can only encourage you to fund RISE: The Story of Augustines so that you can experience their inspirational story.
Big Vulture has set up the Kickstarter campaign HERE. As of this writing, they need $45k more to complete the project which is budgeted at 55K and they only have 29 more days to do it. So I appeal to you, Seattle music and movie fans, consider pledging to this project now to get, what I know will be a stellar film, off the ground and onto screens. This story needs to be heard, and this is our chance to make that happen. Thanks for reading, and if you have your own Pela/Augustines stories, drop me a line or post to the comments below, I’d love to hear them.