Video exclusive: Devil Music scores Big Stakes

The Alloy Orchestra used to have the new-scores-for-silent-films racket sewn up around here, but over the past few years what was once a novelty has become a niche market, and one of the awesomest bands to jump into the genre has been Devil Music. Aside from being one of the most underrated art-punk trios in town, they also do shit like get their friends together into 30-piece orchestras and put on sold-out neo-classical shows, and then turn around and tour the country playing live to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Their latest film score is for Big Stakes, an obscure silent film that Devil Music's Jonah Rapino explains better than we can; they'll perform it tomorrow night at the Museum of Fine Arts. The show's also a DVD-release party, and (as promised in the fishwrap) we've got an exclusive clip.

"This is the DME's first performance Big Stakes in Boston, and possibly the first screening of the film in Boston ever," sez Jonah. "The screening of this rare Western also coincides with the release of a Big Stakes DVD with the DME’s original soundtrack. This is another first, being that this is the first modern score written for this silent western. When composing their score, the DME drew upon the traditional sounds of classic country and bluegrass, as well as folk music traditions of Mexico. And finally, this is probably the only time this film will get a screening and live musical performance in Boston, so we could call this a once in a lifetime experience?" Sure! "Big Stakes is a special film for many reasons. Made in 1922, it has a surprisingly liberal attitude towards race and gender. Also, the KKK features prominently in the picture as the bad guys. This is a stark contrast to the times, considering that only seven years earlier, legendary director D.W. Griffith released his landmark epic film Birth of a Nation (originally titled The Clansmen) which championed the origin and influence of the KKK. The cliffhanger scene at the end of Big Stakes closely mirrors the one from Birth of a Nation, with the KKK losing this time, and has been called by some critics a subtle criticism of

So not only does Big Stakes have action, romance, deadly lizards, Mexican jumping beans,
shoot-outs, horse chases, and every other cliché of American western; it also carries an
anti-racist message. For 1922, this is amazing!
The DME, formed in Boston in 1999, is comprised of Brendon Wood on guitar and synthesizer; Jonah Rapino on electric violin, synthesizer, harmonica, and percussion; and Tim Nylander on drums, and percussion. The DME has been on numerous tours playing soundtracks for silent film; performing in museums, theaters, performing arts centers, and college campuses. Their 2005 fall/Halloween tour took them all over the entire United States. Their performance of “Nosfeartu, a symphony of horror”, at the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline was almost a 600 seat sellout.
Brendon Wood, from Tiverton RI,\n has his Bachelors of Fine Arts in Music from the University of Mass. Jonah Rapino, from Toledo Ohio, received his Bachelors of Fine Arts in classical music performance from Boston University. Tim Nylander, from Portsmouth NH, received his Bachelors in Fine Arts from Harvard University.
In its short history, the DME has been a rock trio, and Eastern European folk band, a country band, a 40 piece modern orchestral ensemble, a house band for live theater, and a multi-member ensemble performing live soundtracks to silent films. They have brought their unique live soundtrack performance experience all over the country, playing movie theaters, performing arts centers, museums, and college campuses.",1] ); //--> D.W. Griffith's film and beliefs. So not only does Big Stakes have action, romance, deadly lizards, Mexican jumping beans, shoot-outs, horse chases, and every other cliché of American western; it also carries an anti-racist message. For 1922, this is amazing!"

Hear, hear. See, see:

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