Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Life of Homer Ray Harris

Homer Ray Harris, son of sharecroppers, was born in Mantachie, Mississippi in September of 1927. He grew up in the rural Deep South and listening to country music coming from the Grand Ole Opry out of Nashville. In the early ‘50’s he married and moved to Memphis taking a job on the graveyard shift at Firestone Tire and Rubber Plant where he worked beside Bill Black, Elvis’ bass player. Bill Black who at the time was working on cutting a record at Sun Studios with Elvis Presley and invited Harris to come to a recording session where he found himself sitting in the control room with Sam Phillips listening while Scotty Moore, Elvis and Bill cut Good Rockin’ Tonight. Even though heavily influenced by country music, by the end of the night Ray Harris was beginning to love the sound.

Having played socially in his hometown at bonfires by the creek and other such events, Ray was struck with the notion that he could make this kind of music and started a band. Guitar player Wayne Powers soon joined Ray in his journey hunting something new and different in music. After studio shopping, they finally made an agreement with Sam Phillips to record two songs and, with the addition of Joey Reisenberg to the group, recorded Come on Little Mama and Where’d You Stay Last Night. These two songs became known as the beginning of Memphis rockabilly and what the genre would become.

Although the songs had no potential to crossover as national hits because of their truly southern rawness, the songs really fired producer Sam Phillips up and he was anxious to record a follow-up to the songs. Although the vibe surrounding their next recording of Greenback Dollar was high, its release coincided with another Sun release for Jerry Lee Lewis’ Whole Lot of Shaking Goin’ On and was lost in the promotion.

Grateful for the opportunity to cut records as an artist and resigning to the fact that the country in his style would hold him back from making hit records, Harris decided to pursue a career on the production side of the music industry.

With an upright piano and a tape recorder, Harris made his first recording. It was a souped up version of You Are My Sunshine and Tootsie with Jerry Lee Lewis’ cousin Carl McVoy. Liking what he heard, Harris and 3 partners formed a company and went to Nashville and re-recorded the songs with Chet Atkins. From this first release, Hi Records was born. Without a distribution system in place, Harris sold the recordings to Sam Phillips and used the money from the sale to buy some recording equipment and to rent the Royal Theater. 

Hi took off after a shaky start and became known for its contributions to Memphis Soul and Rockabilly with great success with artists like the Bill Black combo, Ace Cannon and Al Green. Harris retired in 1970 returning to Tupelo. Harris was tired of the music industry which took him away from home for 20 hours a day as he cut a majority of the sessions at Hi and did other work in the industry for Mercury, Backbeat and United Artists.

Harris bought a lake house on the Tennessee River and kicked back a few years before starting a construction business and then diving back into the music business. Harris and Sam Phillips began Trace Recording Studio in Tupelo in the mid-70’s and had a contract with Playboy Records and when the deal went sour the studio closed. Harris lived out the rest of his days in Mooreville, Mississippi until his death in November 13, 2003.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

TFF Schedule of Events: Saturday, April 19

Schedule of Events
Saturday, April 18

Screen 4
§  Mississippi High School Film Competition
o   1:30 pm
§  “Truman”
·      Presented by Laura Lee - S.A.L.T. Homeschool – An animated children’s short about a small worm named Truman. After a storm destroys his home, Truman must learn to overcome his fear. – Steens, MS – 4 minutes, 22 seconds
§  “Pickin’ At The Lake”
·      Presented by – Katrina Kinder – Homeschool – Banjo players get busier than a bullfrog on a freeway with a busted hopper at Grenada Lake’s annual bluegrass/country/gospel event. – Grenada, MS – 6 minutes, 39 seconds.
§  “Friend”
·      Presented by Rebecca Koehler – MS School for Mathematics & Science - A girl discovers that her strength lies in letting go. – Cleveland, MS – 5 minutes, 38 seconds
§  Special Screening
o   4:00 pm
§  “Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation”
·      In 1982, in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, Chris Strompolos, eleven, asked Eric Zala, twelve, a question: “Would you like to help me do a remake Raiders of the Lost Ark? I’m playing Indiana Jones.” And they did it!
Every shot, every line of dialogue, every stunt. They borrowed and col- lected costumes, convinced neighborhood kids to wear grass skirts and play natives, cast a fifteen-year-old as Indys love interest, rounded up seven thousand snakes (sort of ), built the Ark, the Idol, the huge boulder, found a desert in Mississippi, and melted the bad guys faces off.

Screen 3
§  Student Block
o   12:00 pm - 12:21 pm
§  “If We Were Adults” [R]
·      Mitch and Izzy are the last unmarried couple to take the plunge and what they find is downright freighting.
o   12:22 pm – 12:33 pm
§  “The Organizer” [PG]
·      Shirleen lives in a van, but convinces her brother she lives in the apartment she cleans. When he insists on staying overnight, she must force him out before the owner returns.
o   12:34 pm – 12:44 pm
§  “Sheltered Love” [PG]
·      In blissful 1950s suburbia, a lovestruck bobbysoxer and her no-good boyfriend seek refuge from her overprotective and hot-headed father.
·      Q&A with filmmaker(s)
§  Short Block
o   12:55 pm – 1:18 pm
§  “Long Black Limousine” [PG-13]
·      Les, a serial killer slacker limo driver who is under the control of his tyrannical older brother, Leo, has had enough of murdering and eating his victims in order to satiate his brother’s murderous appetite. Les wants a chance at love. Or at least he thought so until he met his latest ‘victim’.
§  Student Block
o   1:19 pm – 1:42 pm
§  “Butterfly Dreams” [PG-13]
·      A nine-year-old girl in rural India, exploited by child labor, must find a way to pursue her dream - how to read and write. She has one last chance when an educated man comes to town.
§  Documentary
o   1:52 pm – 2:41 pm
§  “Road Trip Across America” [PG-13]
·      Constituting America Foundation documents the California contest winners 2010 Road Trip Across America.
·      Q&A With Filmmaker(s)
§  Feature
o   2:47 pm – 4:17 pm
§  “Sympathy Pains” [PG]
·      When amateur comedian Danny finds out his wife is pregnant (surprise), he can’t stop throwing up. Fighting a battle between his impending family and his rising comedy career, he chooses both and succeeds at neither.
§  Special Screening
o   4:30 pm – 9:30 pm
§  “Good Rockin’ Tonight – The Legend of Sun Records” [G]
·      Special screening of “Good Rockin’ Tonight - The Legend of Sun Records” with special guest, Jerry Phillips begins at 4:30 pm
·      Q&A With Filmmaker(s)
§  Party on the Pod – Behind the Malco Theater
o   7:30 pm
§  “A Taste Of Our Local Flavor”
·      West of Shake Rag improvisational team
·      A little jazz by the Paul Tate Trio Band
·      Heavy hors d’oeuvres & cash bar by Clarion Inn & Summit Center
§  Presentation of awards following entertainment

Friday, April 18, 2014

TFF Schedule of Events: Friday, April 18

Schedule of Events
Friday, April 18

For more information or tickets, visit

Screen 4
§  Children’s Presentation
o   10:30 am – 11:30 am
§  “Jake’s Safari”
·      Free
§  Japanese Film Screenings (Presented by The Japan-America Society of Mississippi)
o   1:00 pm – 3:00 pm 
§  “Brave Story”
·      Adapted from Miyuki Miyabe’s popular novel and manga, Brave Story received critical recognition the very next year at the Japanese Academy Awards, and tells the fantastic story of a young boy ’s desperate efforts to reunite his parents through powers he could never have imagined.
o   3:30 pm – 5:30 pm
§  “ROBO-G”
·      “Robo-G” is the latest creation of the acclaimed comedic director and writer Shi- nobu Yaguchi, whose story of the Kimura Electrical Company’s human(oid) entry into the world-renowned Japanese robot industry will have you in stitches.
o   6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
§  “Always: Sunset On Third Street 3”
·      “Always: Sunset on Third Street 3” is set in 1964 Tokyo as Japan, having emerged from the shadow of World War 2 and experienced a period of rapid economic growth, pre- pares to host the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. The inhabitants of Third Street live amidst all the change in their usual optimistic ways, but a turning point for the familes is looming.

Screen 3
§  Documentary
o   12:00 pm – 1:27 pm
§  “The Silent Epidemic: The Untold Story of Vaccines” [PG]
·      This film “Silent Epidemic” explores the actual medical record and historic evidence to prove that the wide spread use of vaccines is based on shoddy and suspect science.
·      Q&A With Filmmaker(s)
§  Short Block
o   1:35 pm – 1:50 pm
§  “These Foolish Things” [PG]
·      A surprise visitor brings a young widow a reason to smile and softens her loss.
o   1:51 pm – 2:22 pm
§  “Alice Agonistes” [PG]
·      When a stranger enters Alice’s house, she cannot imagine how his story could change her (and his) life forever. Memory, fear and horrific self-discovery take everyone by the throat.
o   2:23 pm – 2:40 pm
§  “Tupelo Bound” [PG]
·      A short reflective documentary which follows Nick Stevenson, an actor on the cusp of break- ing through, as he rides his motorcycle more than 1,100 miles from New York to Tupelo, Mississippi to attend a festival which is screening a film in which he stars.
o   2:41 pm – 2:52 pm
§  “American Montage” [G]
·      An immingrant arrives in America and witness class warfare during the Great Recession.
o   2:53 pm – 2:57 pm
§  “Mile High Pie” [G]
·      Mile High Pie takes a look at the famous mile high meringue at Ed & Kaye’s in Benton, Arkansas.
§  Documentary
o   3:10 pm – 3:23 pm
§  “Unwarranted Influence” [PG]
·      A look at what President Eisenhower described as the military industrial complex.
§  Short Block
o   3:30 pm – 3:37 pm
§  “A Mutual Friend” [PG]
·      A man’s jealously takes a dangerous turn.
o   3:38 pm – 3:45 pm
§  “Echoes” [PG]
·      After a terrible accident in the woods, Joel is confronted by two old friends whose mission threatens his life
o   3:46 pm – 4:12 pm
§  “Kane” [PG]
·      After losing what meant most to him, the man behind the masked hero KANE decides to let the people he protects fend for themselves
o   4:13 pm – 4:49 pm
§  “The Right Regrets” [PG]
·      The Right Regrets depicts a bittersweet and poignant long distance romance between twice-divorced American woman, Lily McHenry and charismatic and never-before-married Englishman, Charles Wickham.
·      Q&A With Filmmaker(s)
§  Music Video
o   5:00 pm – 5:05 pm
§  “Destined to Be” [PG]
·      The song, “Destined to Be,” and it’s music video are about losing the one person you hold closest to your heart. The song was written and performed by the group Sould Out, who originates out of Birmingham, AL.
o   5:06 pm – 5:10 pm
§  “Life On Earth”
·      Aulnay-sous-Bois. One of the harshest Parisian suburbs. In the middle of the ghetto, locked up behind the gates of a school, teenagers, their teachers, canteen staff, su- pervisors, a cleaning lady... Everyone seems to be daydreaming, inhabited by se- cret desires. The time of the song, played by the music teacher and his class, the school, a closed world, prison-like, seems to be floating on air, as if by magic. Life becomes wonderful, cheerful, like the coming of spring
·      Q&A with filmmaker(s)
§  Documentary
o   5:15 pm – 6:00 pm
§  “Life, Liberty & Resilience” [G]
·      An African-American WWII veteran and grandson of a slave re-traces his segregated roots and his U.S. Navy service on Iwo Jima. From poverty to war, pharmacy to interracial mar- riage, ‘Life, Liberty & Resilience’ takes a look at how Joe LaNier, in his own words, is able to overcome life’s hurdles and lead an amazing, loving and forgiving life.
§  Special Screening
o   7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
§  “Capote” [R]
·      Special screening “Tribute to Phillip Seymour Hoffman” with special guest and friend, Frank Vitolo. Begins at 7:30 pm