Unique experience offered by the ‘Hot Club’

Paul Mehling, a lead guitarist for The Hot Club of San Francisco, said a group of traveling gypsy musicians in the 20th century would travel from town to town, earning income by displaying silent films where they could and playing music to accompany them.

The Hot Club of San Francisco attempted to recreate this type of show and give the audience a chance to visit the past.

“We don’t know for certain that this ever happened,” said Mehling, “but it’s totally possible.”

The event was called “Silent Surrealism” at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at The Theater in the Doudna Fine Arts Center. The band mainly focused on the genre of gypsy jazz, but also played classical as well. During the first half of the performance, the band played several gypsy jazz songs but for the second half the music accompanied four silent films.

Mehling said Django Reinhardt, a Romani gypsy guitarist and composer, developed this style of music.

Mehling and Evan Price, the band’s violinist, both grew up with a record collection with Reinhardt’s music.

“Some people just like (Reinhardt’s music) and some people just gravitate toward it,” said Mehling,”

The first two silent films, “It’s a Bird” and “Now You Tell One,” were both comedies by Charlie Bowers.

Both films focused on lying and featured some of the earliest uses of both animation and live action simultaneously.

The third film “The Fall of the House of Usher” by James Sibley Watson, is a horror film based off of the Edgar Allen Poe poem of the same name.

Mehling said the film pioneered several techniques that we now take for granted in movies.

Mehling also said the fourth film, “The Land Beyond the Sunset” by Edison Studios, did not fit into any one particular genre.

Before the show, there was a free lecture and question and answer session.

Seth Schroeder can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].