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Spindrift: Ghost of the West, film and music rolls into town

Spindrift: Ghost of the West, film preview and concert

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On August 3 at the Star Theater in Portland, featuring the first screening of the 21-day ghost town tour filmed and documented in 2012, the Los Angeles-based western band, Spindrift, showcased a full-feature run of Spindrift: Ghost of the West. The showing was also part of the seventh annual 2014 Columbia Gorge Film Festival. But the evening was more than just a film debut, it was a double-feature, as the band followed with a signature 13-song set of boot-kickin’, psychedelic western cinematic rock.

Spindrift: Ghost of the West, film & concert at the Star Theater, Portland OR
Spindrift: Ghost of the West, film & concert at the Star Theater, Portland OR
Photo: Pat Herrera

Bandleader Kirpatrick Thomas introduced the film prior to screening and announced the film had not been trimmed to the estimated 60-plus minute finished feature but the audience was being shown the full 88-minutes. The film was an artistic adventure that lassoed the scenic and history beauty of the Southwest. With dazzling, glowing sunsets, wind-blown dusty deserts, and many ghost town relics that have been left to rust and fade away into barren desert landscapes.

The film captured scenic landmarks documenting the history of the West – the general store, saloon, blacksmith, church, and graveyards that dot the arid desert regions. Parts of the film were set-perfect backdrops for Spindrift music videos, while others captured the silent beauty of the open plains, canyons and arroyos, and picturesque barren landscapes.

Not until Kirpatrick discussed the filming process in a question and answer session after the film were you sure that the reenactors that showed up during a concert in Tombstone were set extras or the real deal. Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday were in full outfits to lend authenticity to this tour stop.

It will be challenging to choose the images and scenes for the final cut, but Spindrift’s music will certainly set the tone to the ghost town adventure and surrealistic view of the West, past and present.

Act II, Spindrift galloped into a rousing 50-minute set of their brand psychedelic western cinematic rock, starting the night with Red Reflection, from the film Dark Mountain. Playing from a darkened stage, old western movie clips, scenic desert panoramas, and edits from Spindrift: Ghost of the West were project on the band landing on a screen at the back of the stage, adding an ample dose of surrealism to the songs, most of which were from the film's soundtrack.

Alternating between vocal and instrumental tracks, Thomas was joined by bandmates Henry Evans on bass and baritone guitar, Parisian Thomas Bellier on guitar and vocals, and James Acton drums and autoharp. As they stoked the locomotive iron horse and charged their way into Hellbound, the band bolted into the rock-billy romp of Gunfighter. One of the musical highlights came next with the flamenco-infused The Matador and the Fuzz, providing visions of dancing senoritas with castanets. Even Thomas commented how much fun they have playing it.

After venturing into some additional instrumentals, including the Speak to the Wind and The New West, Spindrift returned to the Ghost of the West soundtrack featuring Navajo Trail, the Sons of the Pioneers' classic Cool Water, and the surrealistic vision Native American journey of Buffalo Dream.

Kirpatrick and company finished the evening in a flourish playing a rowdy western metalesque medley of The Ballad of Paladin, Ghost Riders in the Sky, and Indian Run. It was a fitting finish to the psycho-surrealistic, retrospective journey into the West, past and into the present.

Opening the evening was a presentation of Dark Mountain, and independent movie about the Lost Dutchman Mine in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona, which Spindrift also contributed the song Red Reflection to its soundtrack.

Until Spindrift moseys its way back to Portland, you’ll need to keep an eye for the theatrical release of Spindrift: Ghost of the West, or catch a listen to the soundtrack as you watch the tumbleweeds blow by.