June 5, 2018
Spinning Goat Productions
ATTN: Chris Mason
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New documentary about Pittsburgh musician Tom Moran premiering in July
(Pittsburgh, PA) – A newly completed documentary feature about long-time Pittsburgh musician, Tom Moran, will make its Pittsburgh premiere at Pittsburgh Filmmakers on July 7, 2018. The film, produced by Spinning Goat Productions, will be presented at the Documentary Salon program directed by Will Zavala.
The 1-hour independent, zero-budget documentary will take viewers on a journey through Moran’s various musical incarnations during his career, starting with his American rock & blues background and as early pioneer in the Pittsburgh punk scene in the early 1980’s as a member of The Dark and The Five, who were also based in Boston in the mid-1980’s. In the mid-1990’s, after returning to Pittsburgh from Boston, Moran and his wife, Stephanie Vargo, formed the bluegrass band The Deliberate Strangers, who during their 13-year career gained local and national recognition in the bluegrass and alt-country communities. They traveled and performed at various festivals and joined the 2004 Outlaw Writer’s Tour with (in)famous West Virginia authors Chuck Kinder and Lee Maynard.
In the the mid-2000’s, Tom’s focus traveled across the ocean to the Middle East. Already a virtuoso player and builder of guitars, mandolins and banjos – as well as more off-kilter instruments made from cigar boxes and shed deer antlers – Moran turned his attention to the oud, a Middle Eastern stringed instrument in the lute family. With help from internet friends in Algeria, Egypt, Turkey and Syria, Moran learned how to build and play the oud, learning Middle Eastern music theory from experts and by following the careers of celebrated oud players like Hamza El Din.
The idea for the documentary arose in 2013 when the film’s director, Chris Mason, was studying Middle Eastern, North African, and East European dance, and as a new filmmaker would practice her craft by recording dance presentations in which Moran took part as musical performer and accompanist. Mason was intrigued by Moran’s performances of non-Western music and fusion pieces in Pittsburgh, and the atmosphere he created when he took the stage – whether in music venues like Club Cafe or in the cushioned seats at Dobrá Tea in Squirrel Hill – and his unique journey from punk to bluegrass to world music.
Previously, from 2013-2016, Mason and Moran collaborated on several experimental video pieces for exhibition at Art All Night and in the Carnegie Museum of Art’s 2 Minute Film Festival. In 2014, after a somewhat improvised shoot on a sunny August afternoon outdoors at Homewood Cemetery, a 25-minute documentary was released online called Musicians in the Wild which featured interviews chronicling Moran’s musical journey and improvised guitar segments. After its release, they both agreed to expand on the documentary and include more performances, interviews, and artistic elements to create a more complete, if compact, overview of Moran’s musical past and present culminating in the 2018 documentary feature Improvising the Divine: the Music of Tom Moran.
Improvising the Divine: the Music of Tom Moran will debut at the Melwood Theater, 477 Melwood Ave, on July 7, 2018. Doors at 6:30 pm/Screening at 7 pm. The screening is free of charge and is followed by a live performance by Tom Moran on electric sitar, ending with an experimental video projection by Chris Mason. For more information, please visit www.spinninggoat.net.
Tom Moran has been playing stringed instruments since 1969. As a founding member of Pittsburgh’s punk rock scene, he was a member of The Dark and The Five, as well as alt-country pioneers, The Deliberate Strangers. Tom is also a luthier, building guitars, banjos, ouds, and other instruments. Tom currently concentrates his musical efforts composing and performing pieces inspired by his study of world music.
Chris Mason began her filmmaking career at Pittsburgh Filmmakers in the summer of 2012, and has independently directed and produced music documentaries, cultural profiles and experimental videos. She has a background in cultural anthropology, loves the “magic” produced when musicians create and perform, and music’s ability to bridge cultural and social barriers. She will study Visual Anthropology at Temple University starting in fall 2018.