KCSB-FM Presents Morricone Youth Performs Live Re-Score of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
8:00 PM – 10:00 PM
On Tuesday, August 7, community-radio station 91.9 KCSB-FM hosts a special film presentation with NYC-band Morricone Youth performing an original live re-score of George A. Romero’s groundbreaking zombie-horror masterpiece Night of the Living Dead (1968).
This free outdoor music-and-cinema event at SBCAST (Santa Barbara Center for Art Science & Technology, at 513 Garden Street in downtown Santa Barbara) is being co-presented by UCSB’s Media Arts and Technology Program. Showtime is 8pm, doors at 7pm.
Marking its golden anniversary this year, George A. Romero’s independently-made, low-budge horror film from 1968, Night of the Living Dead, is widely recognized for its stunning technique, subtle political messages, and decades of creative influence (from World War Z and The Walking Dead to role-playing video games and “zombie walks,” and much more).
Local viewers are invited to (re)experience Night of the Living Dead for free with a new soundtrack performed live by the underground rock band Morricone Youth.
Due to an unfortunate clerical error in 1968, Night immediately slipped into the public domain, so it has been subject to numerous revisions (colorization, “bootleg” video releases, even animation, etc.). Morricone Youth’s reimagining of the film, however, is one of the boldest ever. This live re-score of Night of the Living Dead will be taking place outdoors in the courtyard of SBCAST, the Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology.
Presented by KCSB-FM 91.9, Santa Barbara’s only full-power FM community-radio station, this screening and live performance is being co-sponsored by UCSB Media Arts and Technology. The MAT Program has hosted a number of performances and other special events at SBCAST in the past. The gate opens at 7pm and showtime is 8pm. Again, this event is free and open to the public.
From New York City, Morricone Youth has been making a name for itself in the crowded field of movie music since 1999. Their mission? “Composing, re-interpreting, performing and recording only ‘music written for the moving image.’”
Their repertoire includes over 100 reinterpretations of film and television soundtracks and music production library recordings (many for CDs released on the Country Club Records label). The band performs with projections thematically dedicated to specific composers or film-music genres.
Name-checking both the legendary Italian film composer Ennio Morricone and post-punk rock band Sonic Youth, Morricone Youth’s music is as eclectic as those inspirations. They can shift from jazz, pop, and world-music influences to more contemporary retro sounds associated with 1970s prog, frenetic guitar rock, and “spooky analogue synths” appropriate to science-fiction and horror cinema.
Film fans might recognize the key influence of scores by filmmaker / composer John Carpenter and Italian prog-rockers Goblin — who contributed music to Romero’s 1979 zombie sequel, Dawn of the Dead.
Morricone Youth has re-scored numerous silent films and shorts, including Nosferatu, Battleship Potemkin, and Sunrise, but also more contemporary cult “midnight movies” such as Eraserhead, Fantastic Planet, and most recently George Miller’s 1979 dystopian hit Mad Max.
The group has recently mastered a number of these recorded works as part of a planned series of 15 vinyl and digital releases on Country Club Records. They have been heard in works on TV and in film releases and have composed original music for imaginary films as well.
Recognized internationally, Morricone Youth even performed a live re-score of Mad Max on Australia Day at the ambitious Sydney Festival earlier this year, and on another evening presented their Night re-score there. The band was also an opening-support act for Goblin’s 2017 North American tour.
Their upcoming California dates will take them to the Oceanside International Film Festival, the Casbah in San Diego, the Echoplex in Los Angeles, and the Alamo Drafthouse in San Francisco.
Morricone Youth’s current lineup includes founder, guitarist, DJ, and “soundtrack obsessive” Devon E. Levins, John Castro on bass and vocals, both Dan Kessler and Jefferson Rabb on synths and keyboards, Brian Kantor on drums, and vocalist Sami Stevens.
Band members present and past have been associated with such acts as Creedle, The Rugburns, Crash Worship, Palomar, Pretendo, Pain Teens, Yellowbirds, Fruit Bats, and Pronto, a group featuring Michael Jorgensen of Wilco (who himself has ties to this part of Southern California).
Levins also hosts a weekly soundtrack radio show, “Morricone Island,” on WFMU-FM in New York and New Jersey, a spinoff of a similar program heard on the now-defunct East Village Radio.
More on Night of the Living Dead: The screening takes on extra gravitas given our current political moment (especially in relation to Night’s anti-racist subtext), and added poignancy due to the death of visionary filmmaker George Romero last summer.
Romero’s original screenplay, co-written with John Russo, itself borrows from works such as Richard Matheson’s 1954 science-fiction / horror novel, I Am Legend, and Alfred Hitchcock’s animal-apocalypse tale, The Birds (1963). More broadly, Hitchcock’s technical flourishes can be seen as providing important inspiration for George A. Romero’s own film style.
Also of note, Night of the Living Dead was recently restored by the Museum of Modern Art, and it is likewise included in the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry. (Parental discretion is advised.)
More event logistics: The gate will open at 7pm and the event starts at 8pm. Since this is an outdoor screening at night, blankets and layers are encouraged. Limited on-site seating will be made available to viewers, but low-backed collapsible chairs are also recommended. SBCAST is at 513 Garden Street in downtown Santa Barbara.
No on-site parking will be available but there are plenty of spots in the vicinity on area streets and in nearby city-run parking lots #10 or 11. After 6pm, free parking is also available close by at the commuter lot on East Cota at Santa Barbara Street that is best known as the site for the Saturday Farmers’ Market each week.