Synopsis by Mark Deming
Most fans of classic soul and funk don't spend much time listening to high school bands, but mention the Kashmere Stage Band and they'll sit up and take notice. In the 1970s, the jazz band at Houston, Texas' Kashmere High School was one of the best in the nation, and even scored regional hits with their recordings. Comprised of students from one of Houston's roughest neighborhoods, the Kashmere Stage Band was the brainchild of Conrad O. Johnson Sr., the school's band director who replaced the band's staid repertoire with a mix of lively jazz and funk tunes and current R&B favorites, and instilled a powerful work ethic in his students that turned the ensemble into an award winner. Johnson, known to his students as "Prof," transformed an otherwise ordinary band into something ground-breaking, and in the documentary Thunder Soul, filmmaker Mark Landsman offers a telling profile of Johnson and his band, featuring photos and footage of the band in their heyday as well as interviews from a recent reunion in which the Kashmere alumni paid tribute to Prof with their first concert in decades. Thunder Soul received its world premiere at the 2010 South by Southwest Film Festival.
band [music group], funk-music, jazz, teacher