Local resident Billy Squire is creating a rockumentary about the Midway Café, raising awareness of what an asset the café is for the community at a time when similar venues are being closed across the area to make way for new developments.
He is inviting residents to a filming of a live performance for the production for the rockumentary next month. The rockumentary will be released online.
The Midway Café is a music venue at 3496 Washington St.
“The Midway and many venues like it across the country have their own story,” Squire said. “It’s the people and the music that give it character. Things go down with people that are silly and funny whilst entwined with great, live music.”
Squire said that awareness needs to be raised about how much of an asset the Midway is for the community.
“It’s not just a bar,” Squire said. “It’s a place of acceptance, where self expression is valued. Bringing to light the true story of building a place like this, keeping it open under constant threat from developers and then featuring the benefits of local artists and performers can put a cool spin on documentary. I thought it would be a valuable direction for a film to go down before all of Jamaica Plain becomes unrecognizable.”
Squire’s first impression of the Midway years ago was that it was a “dump, a little shoebox of a room, overflowing with attitude.” After some time, he changed his tune.
“Oddly enough, the room grows on you and the people become friendlier and suddenly it’s like you’re in the basement of your own house in the jam room with a bunch of your pals having some beers and grooving to your favorite band,” Squire said. “I couldn’t stay away!”
Squire is a musician himself and used to sit in on the Hippie Hour gigs on Fridays. He eventually grew tired of playing covers, and was struck with the idea of being an artist for the artists.
In 2015 Squire was the director of video content at a startup, where he directed and posted videos of interviews and handled social media communications for the company. One night while listening to a band play at the Midway Café, Squire was inspired to start filming and interviewing the bands that played there. He started this project and gave bands edited clips for their YouTube and Facebook accounts.
“I started filming everything I could down there,” Squire said. “The next logical step would be to profile the bar and somehow tie it up into a rock and roll movie about a cool music venue.”
Squire initially wanted “Live at the Midway – a Rockumentary” to be like “The Last Waltz” by Martin Scorsese. This idea has changed over the last year and a half of preproduction that Squire has been working on.
“What helped solidify the content and thesis of the film was seeing so many legendary Boston music venues close one after another in a short amount of time,” Squire said. “Places like T.T’s and Johnny D’s, then Beachcomber and Weirdo Records to make room for condos and suddenly I began to panic and was phoning up owner Jay Belarna every other day begging him not to sell! It’s truly becoming a one of a kind type of venue.”
A short version of what the film may be like is available on YouTube at bit.ly/2C77Wem. There are some scripted scenes, and more are to be written out by the patrons of the Midway and submitted for review to see how they can fit in as a complement to the music. Squire says it’s an example of art imitating life.
The rockumentary is funded by Squire himself, who is making it under Ransom Note Productions. For more information, visit bit.ly/2obZlxL.
The live event, which will be filmed, is on March 25 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Midway. It will feature performances from The Hi-End, Erin Harpe and the Delta Swingers, Fur Purse, The Nickel and Dime Band, and The Mystical Misfits. The show is all ages, and selected performances will be included in the documentary. There will be a disclaimer at the door saying that the team cannot guarantee that your image will or will not show up in some portion of the filming, but if you wish not to be filmed, then to situate yourself behind the cameras. Entry is $5.00. To learn more about the documentary, visit bit.ly/2Bz1ATZ.