SLIFF 2009 Spotlight | Old Dog, New Trick and The Pride of St. Louis

olddog-header.jpgA fascinating portrait of an often overlooked era in the musical history of the city.



Ask someone to define the local music scene in St. Louis and they’ll likely think it either kickstarted in the ‘90s during the rise of the Urge, Gravity Kills, and Pointessential compilations, or never existed outside of the ‘50s heyday of Chuck Berry, Miles Davis, and Ike Turner. But what’s often overlooked is the vibrant local scene of the 1970s, when the nascent KSHE-95 helped birth the AOR radio format and gave a home to a wide slew of St. Louis-based rock bands. A pair of new documentaries screening during this year’s St. Louis International Film Festival aims to change that oversight.

Promotional poster for Old Dog, New Trick by Ted May.Directed by Webster University film series director Mike Steinberg and St. Louis journalist (and former PLAYBACK:stl contributor) Thomas Crone, Old Dog, New Trick documents the life of Steve Scorfina, a founding member of the ‘70s St. Louis prog-rock band Pavlov’s Dog. The movie is part biography and part history of St. Louis music itself. From a guitar lesson that turned into a meeting with Turner to Scorfina’s high school band Mike & the Majestics with a young singer named Michael McDonald (yes, that Michael McDonald), from opening for successful regional bands like the Allman Brothers with his band Good Feeling to jetting to Champaign, Ill., to play lead guitar for the original lineup of a then unknown band called REO Speedwagon, Scorfina was a Zelig-like constant presence in the development of the local scene of the ‘60s and ‘70s. But it’s the story of Pavlov’s Dog, the band that almost "made it," that forms the heart of Scorfina’s story.

Steinberg and Crone pair archival photos with a current interview with Scorfina, following him as he sells antiques/junk at local flea markets and tries to reinvigorate the music career he gave up for his now-grown kids in the early ‘80s. There are also a few interesting field trips to the hollowed out remains of old St. Louis hot spots like Club Imperial, where Scorfina waxes nostalgic about seeing long forgotten acts like the Blues Magoos. It combines to form a fascinating portrait of an often overlooked era in the musical history of the city.

Also featured as part of this year’s festival is another, shorter Steinberg/Crone documentary, The Pride of St. Louis. This companion film tells the story of another 1970s St. Louis mainstay, Mama’s Pride, a band who, like Pavlov’s Dog, rode the support of KSHE-95 to local success but whom circumstances kept from ever hitting the big time. Mama’s Pride has also been the recipient of an unlikely second act, with the band (who reunited in 2004) playing a series of semi-annual concerts at the Pageant, including an upcoming charity show on December 5th.

Old Dog, New Trick and The Pride of St. Louis screen together on Friday, November 20th, at 7 PM at the Tivoli Theatre. The showing will be followed by a concert performance by both Scorfina and Mama’s Pride’s Danny Liston at the Duck Room at Blueberry Hill. Tickets for the screening and concert can either be bought separately or purchased together at a discounted price. For more information, visit | Jason Green

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