Off Beat: Punk band gives filmmaker a welcome alternative outlet




Beth Harrington

Vancouver filmmaker Beth Harrington


Beth Harrington

Filmmaker Beth Harrington is getting ready to hit the stage.

But this time, it won’t be to promote “The Winding Stream,” her new film about the legendary Carter and Cash families of country music.

Instead of delving into the roots of Johnny Cash’s music, the Vancouver documentarian will be rocking out with a band she recently joined, Spiricles.

“It’s kind of a punk band,” said Harrington, 57.

She’s been rehearsing with the group as a singer and rhythm guitar player for several months. Their first gig is at 9 p.m. Jan. 24 at The World Famous Kenton Club, 2025 N. Kilpatrick St., in Portland.

Al Paschke, also of Vancouver, and Sylvia Hackathorn are the band’s core writers and musicians. They did three albums with a Portland punk band, Unknown Soldiers, in the 1980s.

“It’s all original music,” Harrington said, so Spiricles won’t be covering “Folsom Prison Blues.”

Her own musical roots are in punk anyway.

“One reason I took on (the Carter-Cash documentary project) was to stretch myself intellectually,” Harrington said. “I was into punk, so the stretch for me is Carter-Cash music.

“Having said that, everybody in the band has an eclectic taste: perhaps a Cash song,” she mused.

In Cash’s early years, “People thought he was, in attitude, kind of a punk. Some of his later work was ‘alt’ and punk in flavor,” Harrington said.

“Never a Carter song” for Spiricles, however. “That’s a whole different world of music,” she said.

(Spiracles, spelled slightly differently, are respiratory openings in some animals).

Harrington said playing with the band has been a great break from her film, which has taken more than 10 years to finish.

“The Winding Stream” should be on the film festival circuit this spring.– Sue Vorenberg

Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.