Reel NW


About the Film

About the Film

30 years before Nirvana, Microsoft and Starbucks put Seattle on the map, Seattle’s African American neighborhood known as the Central District was buzzing during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s with the soul sounds of groups like Black On White Affair, Cookin’ Bag, and Cold Bold & Together who filled the local airwaves and packed clubs seven nights a week. Many of the bands began breaking out nationally via television appearances, major record deals, and interactions with legends like Curtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder. Just as the Seattle soul scene was on the edge of fame and fortune, the public demanded disco and the soul scene slipped into obscurity.

Flash forward decades later, local crate digger DJ Mr. Supreme unearthed Seattle’s soulful past by finding a dusty 45 single by Black On White Affair called “Bold Soul Sister” in a .99 cent bin at a Seattle Center record show. By 2003, he had carved out an impression of a once thriving scene with a pile of Seattle soul and funk 45s, some of which were fetching upwards of $5,000 on the collector circuit. Supreme approached local label Light In The Attic with the idea of releasing a Seattle soul and funk compilation. The label spent a year tracking down the artists and fleshing out the story of Seattle’s soulful past, and the result was a CD compilation titled Wheedle’s Groove. At the CD release party, a line of nostalgic 60 year old fans and funk-hungry 20-somethings wrapped around the block as the musicians inside (currently working as graphic designers, janitors, and truck drivers), reflected on music dreams derailed, and prepared to perform together for the first time in 30 years – their performance sizzled.

All of this is captured in this documentary, narrated by Seattle’s own Sir Mix-A-Lot, featuring interviews with local soul musicians of the era, as well as commentary from Seattle native and legendary producer Quincy Jones, jazz pop star Kenny G (himself a veteran of the 1970’s regional scene), and fresh perspectives from members of Soundgarden, Death Cab For Cutie, and Mudhoney. The Pacific Northwest has got soul!

Director's Notes

Director's Notes

I was first introduced to the music in Wheedle's Groove in August 2004, when I interviewed Matt Sullivan, part-owner of Light in the Attic Records for a different documentary. He was just about to release a compilation of Seattle soul and funk music from a collection of private-release 45 records gathered over 10 years by local DJ Mr. Supreme from junk shops and thrift stores. Supreme started piecing together the story of a thriving soul music scene in Seattle's historically black neighborhood the Central District in the 1960s and 1970s. Soon he would find that the janitor at his girlfriend's college, the lady at the post office, and the guy at the hi-fi store were all integrally involved. I showed up at the reunion show and CD release party the next week with a camera, and I knew I had to make this movie. Just over five years later in Memphis, Wheedle's Groove had its world premiere, and Matt and I had our honeymoon.

I was driven first and foremost by the desire take at least a small step toward righting the wrong that history dealt to this music scene. There were no books, no magazines, no museums, and no photo archives chronicling the music of this very rich time in Seattle's black community. It was almost as if the whole thing had never happened.

What I found was a world of speakeasies and music on every corner; of big dreams and near misses; of ex-Seattlite Quincy Jones as a messiah figure who would surely change your life if he just caught your set at the airport Double Tree. As funk turned to disco and clubs turned to DJs, the bands broke up and Seattle moved on. A few of the musicians continued to play, but the only one to ever reach the place they all thought they would is Kenny G, who got his start at 16 in a hard-hitting funk band called Cold, Bold & Together.

It's my hope Wheedle's Groove brings recognition to the musicians in Seattle's Central District in the 1960s and 1970s and reminds us that great things are often hidden in plain sight.

Jennifer Maas, Director.

The Reel NW Connection

Reel NW focuses on the very best of independent film from the Northwest. Every week, Reel NW airs intriguing films from, or about, our own community. Jennifer Maas graduated from The University of Texas with degrees in math and computer science. Jennifer works in Seattle and Los Angeles, and WHEEDLE’S GROOVE is her feature directorial debut.

Wheedle's Groove

Comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
06/06/11

I would like to know why someone hasn.t written anything on the gallahads that had a song out by the name lonely guy and i'm without a girl friend and others.

03/28/11

Really loved this documentary.

Check my link for a Modern Soul track that Herman H.B. Brown recorded in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

02/18/11

Wow. Excellent. Watching again.

11/20/10

I've just finished watching a stream of the film online, courtesy of a post by Mr. Supreme on Soulstrut.com where he linked to this page. Great film, great story, great music - props to everyone involved.

11/19/10

As a member of the Wheedle's Groove Band & Cold, Bold & Together I'd like to says thanks to KCTS for premiering the doc last night. The private party was awesome! Thanks for sharing the music and history with the people of the NW!

Jamar Jenkins

11/19/10

I would like to know if this program is available as a DVD.

thanks!

11/20/10

Hi Charles,

At the top of this page are links to two ways you can order the DVD and help KCTS 9 keep shows like this on the air. By making a donation at a qualifying level you can choose Wheedle's Groove on DVD as a thank you gift. You can also buy the DVD by itself from Channel9Store.com and KCTS 9 will benefit from the profits on the sale. The choice is yours, but the donation benefits KCTS 9 and Reel NW the most. Either way, the filmmakers benefit from the sale.

We're glad you liked the show! It was a great way to get Reel NW, our new series of regional independent film, started.

Brook
KCTS 9 staff

11/18/10

X-cellent show! I caught them LIVE at KUOW several weeks ago and wish I'd made it to the record release. BUT I did buy one of those 180 gm. pressings! Superb

11/18/10

Very enjoyable documentary. Learned a part of Seattle history that I didn't really realize existed. Good job.

11/18/10

is there goig to be a rebroadcast?

11/19/10
Wheedle's Groove will be rebroadcast Tuesday 11/22 at 12:30 a.m. If that doesn't work for you, you can watch it online whenever you want before 12/2 in the KCTS 9 video player: Wheedle's Groove.

Here's the schedule of films we'll be presenting on Reel NW, in case any of the other ones interest you too: Reel NW schedule

Brook
KCTS 9 Staff
11/18/10

Congrats Jennifer! I am definately looking forward to seeing this! Best wishes! Sean

11/17/10

TYPO:

Reel NW Series Premiere Party
KCTS 9 warmly thanks the band "Wheedle's Groove," featuring past members of bands featured in the documentary of the same name, for bringING some soul to our invitation-only premiere party.

11/18/10

Thanks you for catching the typo, Rupert!

Brook
KCTS 9 Staff

Post new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.
  • KCTS9.org reserves the right to remove posts, at our discretion, which include inflammatory comments, comments that are off-topic, personal attacks or obscene language, or that are otherwise deemed objectionable.
  • By submitting your comment for publication on KCTS9.org, you agree to abide by our terms of service: http://kcts9.org/terms-conditions