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A Tale of Two Houses: Unearthing Tucson’s Underground Music History with Chris Carlone

This week we’re going to speak with Chris Carlone. He’s a filmmaker bringing us the documentary “A Tale of Two Houses,” which highlights a special time in Tucson music history between the years of 1983 and 1989.

Today is July 9th, my name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to “Life Along the Streetcar”.

Each and every Sunday our focus is on Social, Cultural and Economic impacts in Tucson’s Urban Core and we shed light on hidden gems everyone should know about. From A Mountain to the U of A and all stops in between. You get the inside track- right here on 99.1 FM, streaming on DowntownRadio.org- we’re also available on your iPhone or Android using our very own Downtown Radio app. Reach us by email [email protected] — interact with us on Facebook at LifeAlongTheStreetcar and follow us on Twitter @StreetcarLife

Our intro music is by Ryanhood and we exit with music from Phantom Limbs, “Stigma.”

Transcript (Unedited)

Tom Heath

Good morning. It’s a beautiful Sunday in the old pueblo and you’re listening to K-T-D. Tucson. Thank you for spending a part of your brunch hour with us on your downtown Tucson community sponsored rock and roll radio station there.

Tom Heath

This week we’re going to speak with Chris Carlone. He’s a filmmaker bringing us the documentary “A Tale of Two Houses,” which highlights a special time in Tucson music history between the years of 1983 and 1989.

Tom Heath

Today is July 9, 2023. And my name is Tom Heath. You’re listening to life along the streetcar. Each and every Sunday are focused on social, cultural and economic impacts in Tucson’s urban core. And we shed light on hidden gems everyone should know about from a bound to the University of Arizona and all stops in between. You get the inside track right here on 99.1 FM [email protected]. Also available on your iPhone or Android with our very own downtown Radio Tucson app. And of course, on the show you can interact with us on Facebook and Instagram.

Tom Heath

We are life along the streetcar in those platforms. If you want information on our show, our book, past episodes, contact us. Even listen to old shows here. Head over to life along the streetcar.org. And you don’t always listen to that podcast.

Tom Heath

We’re going to jump right into our feature store today because that’s a great one. Not that we don’t always have great ones, but this is a great one. Chris Carlone, he’s a multitalented artist and he is a filmmaker who is documenting the history of two specific houses on speedway that were known for the music scene in the 1980s. It’s going to be released soon here at HoCo Fest, so we wanted to sit down with him and get the inside scoop. We are joined today by Chris Carlone and looking at his bio has done every type of art form imaginable. So it’s kind of interesting to see that you’re doing a documentary about another art form in music. But Chris, welcome to the show.

Chris Carlone

Well, thanks so much, Tom. It’s great to be here and I’m so excited to get to talk to you.

Tom Heath

Yeah, I love the concept and we’ll get into the documentary shortly. But I was looking at your bio, like getting prepped for this. And seriously, you’re a musician, you’re actor, you’re a photographer, you’re a dancer. I mean, good heavens. Like, if it’s art, you do it.

Chris Carlone

Yeah. I always wish that I was one of those people that was just like, I’m a drummer and that’s it. You just hone in on one thing and I would be really good at any of those things that I do, which whatever I get into, I get into heavily at this point in my life, actually. I’m really glad that I’ve done so many different things, but sometimes I think to myself, how would it just been easier to be just pick one to.

Tom Heath

Do something and then have to kind of figure out a routine and not all over the place. Yeah, I’m with you. Although the variety I’ve got to imagine the variety and the crossover, I’m sure each one of these sort of disciplines bleeds into the next one.

Chris Carlone

Right, exactly. Yeah. Like I was saying, now at this point in my life, I’m really glad that I’ve explored so many different things and put good time into lots of different art forms and exactly. Something like editing, it’s the type of art form that combines so many things and I think that having done so many things only really helps in telling a good story. Yeah, it’s great. I’m glad to be where I’m at right now with everything.

Tom Heath

And are you from Tucson originally or where did you hail from?

Chris Carlone

I moved around a lot growing up. I was born in Miami and then I lived in little town outside of New Orleans, and then I lived in Southern California and then when I was 16, I moved to Tucson in 1986 and I was here from 86 to 91. So I left when I was 21 years old for San Francisco. And I always stayed connected with Tucson, so I still have a ton of friends here that are artists and musicians and it always felt every time I’d come here for a visit, which I would regularly do, it always kind of felt like home and ended up moving back here during COVID a couple of years ago. My wife, her father lived here and when we met in Brooklyn, we both had that in common, that she had the Tucson connection, which was really random and cool. And then during COVID he lives on ten acres of land up in Oral Valley and was getting older and needed some help and offered us to live in the guest house and I was so ready to leave New York and so excited to come back to Tucson. So it’s been such an easy and great

Chris Carlone

transition and it’s been really interesting to see how the city has changed and how it’s grown and all the good and bad ways, but yeah, I feel Tucson has always been felt like home and it’s great to be back.

Tom Heath

Awesome. I know we’re glad to have you back. And then it’s interesting, then, that this documentary that you’re working on, a Tale of Two Houses, this is about well, we’ll dive into that for a moment. But you moved here in the 80s, so I moved here in the what I learned from the that the music scene in the Crazy, like, it had kind of mellowed out by the 90s, but there was a lot of really intense, and some of these bands are still around today, but there’s a lot of intense music happening in Tucson in the that’s like, right when you landed here. So I’m assuming you kind of got pulled into that.

Chris Carlone

Definitely. I mean, music was always something when I first moved here. It was really when I first started playing music, when I was like, 16. But since music has always been one of the most important things in my life, coming here from Southern California, I thought when I was 16, my immediate attitude was like, oh, my gosh, I can’t believe I was in the mecca of cool underground music. And now I have to move to this little desert town and this is awful. And I quickly found out that there is a thriving music scene here. And I just found my way in pretty quickly. And one of the ways I found into that scene was through these two houses. And I was just a kid in high school living on the East Side, but it was small enough that if you were if you were into underground music, that you could find each other in this sort of pre digital age. I quickly found out that Tucson was actually really cool, and I quickly made friends and found out that people here were just actually great. I was like, oh,

Chris Carlone

people are nice here compared to Orange County.

Tom Heath

I’ve heard that from a lot of people that lived in these large these cultural centers. They’re so excited to be in La. Or New York, where all the art is. But then when they move to Tucson, like, well, I found not only my niche, but people were nice to me, and I could collaborate and play, and I wasn’t shut out of things.

Chris Carlone

It was really exactly that was it? Yeah. I love that.

Tom Heath

So then tell us physically about these two houses and we’ll get into the documentary. We’re literally talking about two physical structures in which there’s a lot of apparently a lot of underground music happening here in Tucson in the so the houses.

Chris Carlone

Are both still there, and they’re on the corner of Speedway and Euclid. And they used to sit directly next to Tucson’s only late night fast food restaurant called Greasy Tony’s. And it’s really interesting because Greasy Tony’s had two locations at the time. One was in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and the other in Tucson, Arizona. Go figure. And so this little corner was not only one of the busiest corners in Tucson, street corners in all of Tucson, but you’ve got this sort of these two houses that became like sort of the epicenter of underground music. In Tucson, sitting next to the only late night restaurant right in the middle of the university area, which there’s just so much traffic and random people coming into greasy townies, hearing music, going over to the houses. And then you’ve got directly across the street, the Circle K, which kind of like was part of that core vortex.

Tom Heath

It’s hard to find a better location for this to happen. You’ve got all the essential food groups and necessities right there at your disposal.

Chris Carlone

That’s right, exactly. Yeah. So now being back here, what, 30 something years later, greasy tony’s is gone, taken up by giant student housing, which is just kind of mind blowing. And it really was sort of the inspiration for the film. Driving by, I knew that Greasy Tony’s was gone, but it kind of like having not seen it in so long, it was like, whoa, am I in Tucson? Just this wall of like literally I’ve got these great drone shots and it literally looks like this giant, gigantic wall of buildings that is just kind of creeping in. And it’s like, how can these two houses there’s actually three houses, but how can they be around for much longer? They look like they’re going to get swallowed up.

Tom Heath

Yeah, you look at just like the Google Maps of that and you can see the two houses because I looked them up. But you’re right, it definitely looks like that image of the city just sort of encroaching all around it. And at some point they’re probably just going to be gone.

Chris Carlone

Yeah, definitely.

Tom Heath

We’re talking with Chris Carlone. He’s a filmmaker. Among many other artistic talents, he is the brainchild between the documentary A Tale of Two Houses. It talks about this really interesting time in Tucson music history in the 1980s. And we’ll be back to finish up the second half of that interview in just a moment. But first of all, I want to remind you that you’re listening to life along the streetcar on downtown Radio 99.1 FM and streaming on downtownradio.org.

Tom Heath

If you are just joining us, our feature today is with a local artist and filmmaker named Chris Carlone. He is working on a documentary called A Tale of Two Houses and it tells the story of two properties on Speedway, right there in the corner of Euclid and Speedway that were known for their music scene in the 1980s, 1983 to 1989 is the time frame of this documentary. And we’re going to talk a little bit more with Chris now about how he really kind of pulled all this together, get this idea, you know what, I spent some good years there and this might be gone. So I want to document this history. Is that kind of how this starts?

Chris Carlone

Exactly, yeah. I was driving by and I was like, oh, there’s my old house. And I just have such fond, deep, dear feelings for these two houses. And then I get this idea and I think, well, I should just make a cool little 15 minutes documentary to throw up on YouTube as a thing to sort of give to the people who were there at the time. And it would mostly just be about David Forbes, the guy who kind of started it all. And he’s just a genius and an interesting person on his own that you could do a documentary about. But yeah, I just thought I’d do a little 15 minutes thing on YouTube. And the next thing I knew, I had interviewed like 40 people and I was like, oh my God, what am I doing? What have I done?

Tom Heath

You have a filmmaking background, so this isn’t just like something you just popped up and said, oh, I’m going to do this. I mean, you’re a photographer. You’ve done other films in a lot of different genres as well.

Chris Carlone

Yeah, I’ve done a couple of short films of my own and I’ve edited a few features that I was part of an editing team on. And I’ve done tons of trailers and I’ve done at least 100 music videos. That’s kind of my bread and butter because being a musician, that’s kind of what got me into editing to begin with, was making music videos for my own bands. And so, yeah, so music videos is sort of my specialty. But yeah, I’ve done a few short films and edited with it on a team, a few features. But this is something I’ve never really taken on something like this before. And it’s been, oh my gosh, such a ride. And yeah, there was about five months where I just completely put it down and was like, I can’t even look at this. I feel like it’s sort of the hero’s journey where you’re just like, you don’t want to see it in front of you. And you’re just like you have to go through all the stages of it, of being so inspired. And you jump in and then all of a sudden you’re like, wait, what have I done? And

Chris Carlone

how am I going to get to the end? So it’s been a great learning experience as an artist to see this thing through.

Tom Heath

Is there like a lot of footage? Because this was in the 80s, so I mean, there were camcorders and stuff. Are there video footages that you found or are you just doing interviews or how is this coming together?

Chris Carlone

That’s a great question. There is not a lot of footage. And there is enough though. But I of course wish there was so much more. So a big part of the story talks about community cable access, which is basically, you probably remember, it was like you could become a member of the Tucson community cable and they would basically you could take classes there. They would give you equipment to use and eventually they would give you your own show. And so there is a guy named Chris Wagner who had his own show and is really talented camera person and just really just was inspired to shoot some parties, some live parties at 818 Speedway, where there would basically be, like, five or six bands, and it would be a big party, and the whole thing would be like live on community cable. So luckily we’ve got these great footage that’s just really amazing of house parties at 818. And as far as the scene goes, I’ve got footage from three different people that were at TC. And so we’ve got some great stuff of

Chris Carlone

different bands from that time. But as far as the houses go, one of the houses, I’ve got lots of great footage and the other one, there is no footage. Amazing stories. But I employed some awesome Tucson illustrators to help tell the stories and give visuals and pictures and animations as well. Chris Holleman of the River Roses, who was a big part of the scene, his daughter is a really talented animator. So she’s doing some animation for the film as well.

Tom Heath

Interesting. Yeah, it’s a mix of media as well.

Chris Carlone

Exactly. There’s animations illustrations. There’s a lot of some really cool footage that hasn’t been seen before. And from Denise Webb, from Charles Alfred Brown and Chris Wagner, who are all part of TC. They’ve been really kind to donate the footage.

Tom Heath

And is your documentary is it out? Is it finished? Are you working on it? What’s the status?

Chris Carlone

It’s done. Well, it’s not completely done, but the edit of the film is done. It clocks in there. They’re an hour and 32 minutes. I’m really proud of that and excited because I was like, this is going to be like 4 hours or something. But no, it’s an hour and 32 minutes. So it’s a feature. And I’ve finished the edit. And now I’m sort of going back through it and making other little edits and showing it to a few people and getting their feedback and just waiting on some final animation stuff. And after effects work and just to sort of give it a little gloss over and add the finishing touches.

Tom Heath

When do you think we’ll be able to see it?

Chris Carlone

Well,

Chris Carlone

it’s going to be a part of the HoCo Fest. It’s going to premiere at HoCo Fest. And it will be at the Loft on Saturday, September 2 at 02:00.

Tom Heath

So it’s got a date and everything. So we’re not too far out from that.

Chris Carlone

Oh, yeah, it’s on. And also the next day it will be showing at the screening room on Congress Street. And I’m not exactly sure of the time. I want to say two, but that could be wrong.

Tom Heath

The screening room feel. I mean, I love the Loft, but the screening room feels really right for me for debut or for showing this film. It’s sort of got that sort of current grungy, underground feel.

Chris Carlone

Yeah, I’m very happy that it’s going to get a chance to be at both. My immediate dream was like, this has to be on the big screen at the Loft.

Tom Heath

Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Chris Carlone

Which it is because for me, the loft is a special place just from being a teenager and being a regular at the old loft when it was the new loft. Both of them are special locations. I mean, the location of the screening room used to be many different variations of underground punk clubs as well. So like you said, it’s also a perfect location as well. So I’m honored to really to have my film in both of both places.

Tom Heath

And how do people follow you? Do you have Instagram, Facebook or Website?

Chris Carlone

Yeah, I’ve got an Instagram. A Tale of Two Houses documentary is the instagram. And then there’s a Facebook page as well with the same name. And there’s a website now, which is very basic, but it’s got a place to if you’d like to donate to the film, it’s got a link to the GoFundMe there and there’s a bio and there’s like an updated video from me on where the project is at. And there’s a teaser trailer on there as well. So there’s three places you can find info about the movie.

Tom Heath

And we’ll of course link to all of those from our Facebook page on Life Along the Streetcar.

Chris Carlone

Oh, that’s wonderful. Thank you so much.

Tom Heath

And definitely going to be out to learn more about this documentary. Chris, thank you so much for joining us. It’s been Chris Carlone. He is the multi talented multifaceted artist creating a documentary called A Tale of Two Houses, which is covering a period of time in music history here in Tucson from in the mid eighty s to late eighty s. And man, I just love when someone grabs their passion and brings it together in a way that brings it to a generation like myself. I moved here in the missed everything that you’re showing, but I still feel the effects of it because some of those bands are still out there. So it’s going to be great to see how some of these people got their start here in Tucson.

Chris Carlone

I’m so glad. And that’s kind of what I’m hoping is for me, it’s kind of like a gift first and foremost to anybody who was a part of that scene at that time. And then after that, it would be really wonderful for Tucsonians that are interested to just kind of get a sense of that time in Tucson history, which I think seems really special to me now. And it will speak to others as well.

Tom Heath

It will speak to others that has spoken to me. That was Chris Carlone filmmaker bringing us a tale of two houses. I was on their Facebook page doing a little prep for the show, looking at their website and such. And there’s some fun footage back there from the day I think he talked about that, where he was able to kind of track it down from Chris Wagoner, who was doing that access television. I think it was called the electric window, but it’s fun to listen to some of these old bands and just see some really great 80s music. Well, my name is Tom Heath. You are listening to Lifelong Streetcar on downtown radio, 99.1 FM and [email protected].

Speaker 4

You’re listening to Ktdt, Tucson, Arizona, 99.1 FM, downtown radio. I’m Brother Mark, host of a show called Radio Club Crawl that airs every Tuesday at 03:00 P.m.. We try to focus on most of the bands that are coming through Tucson, and we give you a tasty taste of their music. You want to check out what’s happening around Tucson? Check out Radio Club crawl. Tuesdays, 03:00 P.m. Right here on Ktdt. Tucson, Arizona. 99.1 FM. Downtown radio.

Speaker 5

Thank you very much.

Chris Carlone

Enjoy your evening.

Speaker 5

Bye bye.

Tom Heath

Such a fitting show for rock and roll volunteer run radio station. I want to thank Chris Carlone for being with us here for episode number 255. Yeah, going to be fun to see that documentary roll out at Hocofest. And that whole lineup is being announced soon. If you wanted to learn more about HoCo Fest, you can head over to our website, Lifealongstreetcar.org. Just type in Hocofest in the search bar there you’ll hear our story with Matte. Matt is the one of the organizers of HoCo Fest, has really kind of taken this project on and we interviewed him last year for the first time talking about HoCo Fest. And so appropriate that we now have another story to tell about this impact of this event that happens annually here in Tucson, that is in September. So we’re a few months ahead. Wanted to make sure you had time to prepare for that. And we’ve got some really good shows coming up. I think we talked about this last week. We’ve got local news people that have independently gone out and created

Tom Heath

the luminaria to help us get accurate information about what’s happening in our city, mainly in the political structure. We also have folks from we have an interview with ayla from Borderlands, one of the few I believe female beer makers around. So that’ll be joining us here later in July as well. But again, a huge thanks to Chris Carlone. Check out their website, check out their Facebook page. We’ll link to all of that. You can head over to our Facebook page, Life Along the Streetcar, if you want more information. And while you’re there, hit us up or tag us in something you would like us to cover or share. Instagram, Facebook, great ways to connect us to the world or the story with Chris came through to us through our website. Someone had sent us a note there on the contact button and that you’ve got to talk to this guy putting on this documentary. And we said, okay, we will do that. We will do what we are told. It’s as simple as that sometimes. Hey, we’re going to leave you with music

Tom Heath

today from YouTube. This is some footage I believe from Chris Wagoner on the public access television show the Electric Window that he was doing. The band is called Phantom Limbs. The song is called Stigma. Hope you enjoy it. My name is Tom Heath. I hope you have a great week and tune in next Sunday for more life along the streetcar.

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