For the past 10 years, Baltimore Living Archives Artist in Residence Lawrence Burney has been a lead journalist telling the usually hidden and untold stories highlighting Baltimore + the DMV’s most captivating music, visual arts, and the surrounding culture that informs both. This summer Lawrence curates a series of films that in one way or another, have helped him gain a better understanding of self. Whether they affirm personal experiences, help make more sense of family & communities that raised him, or altered the way he approaches his work, each is crucial to his growth as a man and a curatorial force. True Laurels Summer Films present an opportunity for Lawrence to share how he sees the world with the public.
A Band Called Death Synopsis
Before Bad Brains, the Sex Pistols or even the Ramones, there was a band called Death. Punk before punk existed, three teenage brothers in the early ’70s formed a band in their spare bedroom, began playing a few local gigs and even pressed a single in the hopes of getting signed. But this was the era of Motown and emerging disco. Record companies found Death’s music— and band name—too intimidating, and the group were never given a fair shot, disbanding before they even completed one album. Equal parts electrifying rockumentary and epic family love story, A Band Called Death chronicles the incredible fairy-tale journey of what happened almost three decades later, when a dusty 1974 demo tape made its way out of the attic and found an audience several generations younger. Playing music impossibly ahead of its time, Death is now being credited as the first black punk band (hell…the first punk band!), and are finally receiving their long overdue recognition as true rock pioneers.
“I saw this film in the early days of my music journalism career and it spoke to my dedication to document artists that were typically overlooked, under-considered, and casted off as not special. Death was a Black punk band in 1970s Detroit — the Motown soul/R&B capital of the world. There were attempts from potential record label suitors to make them more palatable to the masses, to which the band declined, even though it all but ensured that they’d never break out. And as decades passed, people who appreciated their true punk spirit started to find and appreciate their music. It’s the type of film that anyone who is unwavering in what they believe in artistically needs to see.” – Lawrence Burney
Baltimore Living Archives is a collective place keeping project that builds community and civic engagement, centered around the sharing of stories through film and media co-produced by The SNF Parkway Theatre and the Enoch Pratt Library. Baltimore Living Archives is an artist residency that invites Baltimoreans to craft and showcase media-based stories alongside two Baltimore artists with archiving practices, SHAN Wallace and Lawrence Burney. SHAN and Lawrence will develop their own work and work with the community, sharing skills and stories through a number of participatory programs. Members of the community will be invited to share their stories, explore and contextualize archives, and enjoy the findings of SHAN and Lawrence.
This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Anonymous Foundation. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.Learn More