August 23, 2015
CLUB FOOT ORCHESTRA
plays BUSTER KEATON at
The Club Foot Orchestra is a music ensemble founded in 1983 by Richard Marriott.
After a brief career playing dramatic, complex music in San Francisco clubs, they became known for their equally dramatic and complex scores for classic silent movies.
The ensemble got their name from a performance art nightclub called the "Club Foot" which flourished in the Dogpatch district of San Francisco.
Marriott, who lived upstairs, formed a house band that came to be called the "Club Foot Orchestra".
Two albums released on Ralph Records document this period: Wild Beasts and Kidnapped.
The performers on these recordings included Snakefinger, Beth Custer, Eric Drew Feldman, Dave Barrett, Dick Deluxe Egner, Josh Ende, Arny Young,
Julian Smedley, Dave Kopplin, Raoul Brody and Opter Flame.
Marriott explains how they started writing for movies:
I became interested in doing something visually that further expressed the ideas behind the music; something that would help put the music in context.
I considered projecting slides of experimental art on a screen behind us.
Then a friend suggested, after catching our show: "The music is so cinematic, why don't you take outtakes of 1950s sitcoms and score them."
I put it under my hat. Later that night I saw a Lily Tomlin skit on Saturday Night Live. She was reading the Dow Jones averages of various art trends.
She reported, "Pop art up 10... Op art up 20... Expressionism down 30." I turned the channel. And there was The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
The distorted sets and dreamlike atmosphere in the film were the qualities that I always envisioned accompanying our music. The subversive plot was drenched in the unconscious. I was obsessed to write for that film.
The score was premiered at the 1987 Mill Valley Film Festival. After touring with Caligari, Marriott wrote a score for the 1922 Murnau horror classic Nosferatu.
This proved equally successful with audiences and lead to an appearance at New Music America 1989 in New York. Portions of the "Nosferatu" score were contributed by Gino Robair,
introducing a period of collaborative composition. New scores for the films Metropolis, Sherlock Jr., Pandora's Box and The Hands of Orlac were presented at art houses across
America and also at venues such as Lincoln Center and the Smithsonian Institution. In between these projects, they also scored and recorded 39 episodes
of "The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat" a Saturday morning cartoon show on CBS. Some of the excellent conductors, performers and composers of this period of the orchestra included
Steed Cowart, Deirdre McClure, Sheldon Brown, Miles Boisen, Bob Lipton, Nik Phelps, Doug Morton, Kenny Wollesen, Elliot Kavee, Catherine Clune, Kaila Flexor, Jason Marsh,
Matt Brubeck, Steve Kirk, Chris Grady, Cornelius Boots, Pamela Z, and Alisa Rose.
In 1999 a smaller version of the orchestra performed Legong: Dance of the Virgins with Gamelan Sekar Jaya on a score cowritten by Marriott and Made Subandi.
Most recently the orchestra has performed at the World Financial Center, the Morgan Library, and The Silent Movie Theater (LA), introducing new scores for Battleship Potemkin,
Phantom of the Opera, Steamboat Bill, The Golem, and The Godless Girl and revised scores for Caligari and Metropolis.
They continue to perform and innovate new approaches to film scoring.
The Orchestra premiered a brand new score to the 148 minute restored Metropolis at the
San Francisco Jazz Festival on April 14, 2013. The lineup included pianist
Kymry Esainko and Todd Sickafoose on Contrabass.
On July 20, 2013 they will join forces with Gamelan Sekar Jaya at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and perform their acclaimed score to
Legong Dance of the Virgins.
On September 21, 2013 they will appear at the De Young Musuem, San Francisco in a show entitled "La Dolce Vita and Beyond" featuring Pamela Z