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The show must go on

Seeley and Baldori’s documentary isn’t ready, but they’re still giving the film festival a boost

What was originally scheduled as a world premiere film screening and boogie-woogie piano performance by legendary Michigan musicians Bob Baldori and Bob Seeley will instead be a fund-raiser for the East Lansing Film Festival.

Baldori and Seeley, who have been performing together since 2006, had initially planned to debut their film “Boogie Stomp” at 8 p.m. Friday at Hannah Community Center, but slower than expected progress on the project has postponed its debut.

Instead, the duo will put on a show to raise money for the other films and filmmakers. This year’s ELFF kicks off Oct. 20 and runs through Oct. 28 at various locations.

“There have been issues with working on (‘Boogie Stomp’) full time,” Baldori said. “It’s spanned out over four years — two years longer than I wanted to.”

Performing also got in the way.

“We’ve toured Russia three times in the last year and a half,” Baldori said.

The duo was also selected to play the Heritage stage at the prestigious Chicago Jazz Festival, the 31-year-old festival that has hosted such luminaries as Kurt Elling, Charlie Haden and the Rebirth Brass Band.

“That’s impossible to get: That’s a juried (event). They have committees that pick the bands,” Baldori said .

Baldori has been known in the musical community since 1966 when his band The Woolies had a breakout national hit covering Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love.” He met Seeley at the Detroit Jazz Festival 30 years later.

Baldori recalled this first time he saw Seeley, a Detroit jazz legend, play live. “Seeley gets up (on the stage) and just kills me, and I said, ‘Who is this guy?’ “I was dumfounded because I grew up in Detroit and I’d never heard of him.”

Despite being unknown to Baldori, Seeley had been performing professionally since the late 1940s, backing some of the jazz world’s all-time greats, like Art Tatum and Sippie Wallace.

A short time after the festival, Seeley asked Baldori to sit in with him during a gig at Charlie’s Crab in Troy, where he had been playing “in relative obscurity” for 32 years. The act was a hit, according to Baldori — “the place went nuts” — and they decided to take the show on the road.

This upward trajectory of the band is what Baldori calls the “narrative” of “Boogie Stomp,” which they hope to debut soon. Baldori hopes to have the final print of “Boogie Stomp” completed in time for the 2011 East Lansing Film Festival.

Bob Baldori and Bob Seeley

8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1 Hannah Community Center, 819 Abbot Road, East Lansing $15-$40; $75 ticket includes post-concert afterglow (517) 351-6555 or email bgerhardt@spirit-records.com


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