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BRINGING ROCK’S UNSUNG HEROES INTO THE LIGHT: Teen A Go Go

Doc explores the teenage scene of the Sixties
Joni Ashworth and Bobby Barnes
Directed by Melissa Kirkendall

Most people probably know Buddy Holly but not a single member of his backup band, the Crickets. Backup bands and other support acts make the stars possible, and seldom—if ever—get the recognition they deserve.

Teen a Go Go goes behind the scenes to bring some of these unsung heroes into the light. Delving deep into the Sixties’ music scene of Ft. Worth, the documentary includes a plethora of Texas musicians—almost none of them known to the general public, if even music geeks—waxing philosophical as to their remembrances of the emerging teenybopper culture at the time of the British invasion.

Delinquents is largely a reminiscence-fest for the aging troubadours featured and interviewed on camera. However, the film simultaneously suffers from talking-head syndrome: the lion’s share of the film time is spent with gray- and white-haired folks staring into the camera and finding different ways of saying that the Ft. Worth scene was were it was at when it was at it. It wasn’t L.A. or New York, but it was home to so many talented crooners who never saw the limelight of stardom but for backing up the more famous. There is very little archive footage, and too little time is spent on the phenomenon of teenybooper-dom that the title suggests. In fact, ironically, almost none of the interviewed musicians are ever seen making music on camera in contemporary settings.

Still, there are interesting tidbits sprinkled in for flavor, such as one musician recalling (possibly erroneously so) that J.F.K.’s secret service detail was seen out partying in a Ft. Worth nightclub the evening before the President’s assassination (another musician mistakenly identifies Fargo as being in South Dakota. One wonders precisely why the editor allowed this to slide.)

The effect leaves one with a somewhat hollow feeling. It’s great to see so many musicians, working people at that, who were able to make a modest living at a uniquely exciting moment in American social and music history without ever becoming famous themselves—and apparently being grateful for same on camera—but the impact for the viewer is rather muted, despite the director’s attempts at levity of mood and bubblegum charm. There’s a magical element missing here, something that ultimately connects viewer to interviewed, and a sense of why precisely we should care about and like these people beyond their talents, which once again, we never are privileged enough to truly glimpse.

Available in DVD and via digital download.

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