Last week we ran across a fascinating video online, from a musician who assumes the nom de web of Stoney Lonesome. In real life, he is Andy Cartoun, a bluegrass banjo player and accidental filmmaker from the Northeast, who has developed a passion for creating self-produced videos with an old-timey look and feel.
This most recent project stars Andy on banjo with Dave Shaw on fiddle in a mock silent film, featuring an Edison cylinder phonograph recorder and the great old tune, Cricket On The Hearth. Stoney and crew used the Edison to record the music in the video.
Andy shared a few words about this film, starting with his training in the video arts.
“I have no background in film whatsoever. I just started making these things one day, maybe two years ago, and it kind of grew on me. As I would walk around the streets of New York City, where I spend a fair amount of time, it felt as though I was constantly watching a movie with all the activity and hustle bustle you see in a place like that. It was as though the movie screen was all around me as I made my way through the streets.
All these funny interactions between people and machines constantly in front of my eyes… I happen to love everything old fashioned – cars, buildings, music, gadgets, silent movies – so it dawned on me to have funny things happen in the old time setting.
I played music with a bunch of good friends in a very traditional bluegrass band called Big Apple’achia and the fiddle player, Pete, started calling me Stoney Lonesome. I think because I never smiled and was lonesome looking, and it kind of stuck as a stage name.
Little did Pete know, he created a monster!
My good friend and superfine musician, Dave Shaw, owns the Edison cylinder phonograph machine. He plays fiddle in the Cricket on the Hearth. He is also a superb banjo player, guitar player and singer, and has a never ending repertoire of the deepest of the deep catalog bluegrass and country music material. He studied the Edison machine carefully, found a guy in the UK that makes the wax cylinders, experimented with it a lot and has perfected the technology to the height of its 1915, state-of-the art levels!
I am blessed to have family and many good friends that are outstanding musicians and very creative people. In this short film, my good friend and fine musician, Robert Fraker, came to mind. Robert has played bluegrass and old-time music all his life, and in fact, plays Monroe style mandolin in a band with his wife Lillian on bass, and the above mentioned Dave Shaw on “five” called The Bear Bridge Band. Anyway, I was talking to Robert about my idea for this one, and it turns out he is a big fan of old time, silent movies ala Chaplan, Keaton etc. It turned out he was a mighty fine silent screen actor as well. His facial expressions and body movements were perfect.
He chose the name, Smedley DeRange (the ‘A’ is soft, according to Robert) and a silent screen movie star was born! I told Robert how great a job I thought he did, to which he responded graciously, ‘Yes, but I was born 90 years too late.’ And I must admit, in this age of smart phones, social networks, digital music, I often feel the same way. And THAT is lonesome!”
Many more examples of Cartoun’s work can be found on Vimeo.