Saturday evening in Woodstock, a giant tour bus pulled into the Colony Cafe parking lot. Inside was Boyd Tinsley, violin player and founding member of the Dave Matthews Band. Why was he here? To attend the Rhinebeck screening of his feature “Faces in the Mirror.”
The film is Tinsley’s concept; he co-wrote and co-produced. But most importantly, he led the music, and the music means most of all in this film.
Seven or eight years ago, in the fall, Tinsley and a friend with Filament Productions were looking out from a terrace in Charlottesville, Va., home base for the Dave Matthews Band. Together, the two thought Charlottesville in the fall would be perfect for a movie.
Fast Forward to fall 2008. LeRoi Moore, saxophone player for the Dave Matthews Band, died in August from complications following an ATV accident. His death was completely unexpected and hit the band hard.
“It was really kind of a dark fall for me,” Tinsley said. “For me, in order to deal with that, I needed to put my focus into something creative.”
The film concept came to him, and suddenly, conversations were ongoing between Tinsley and his cast and crew. “Sometimes all the right people come together at the right time and the right place,” Tinsley said, “and it was just magical. Everything that we needed to happen, happened.”
What happened was a film relying more on music than story. For five days in Seattle, Tinsley and musicians recorded the tracks for “Faces in the Mirror.” He would finish the day’s recordings for Dave Matthews Band’s “Big Whiskey and the Groo-Grux King” at midnight, then move to another studio to record for his film.
“I was bringing stuff back and forth from each other, and (the spirit of) Roi was very present in both sessions,” Tinsley said. “It was like an inspiration. Because I knew he would be really proud of this and he would encourage me and push me on in this.”
“Faces in the Mirror” stars Ryan Orr as a grown man who returns home to bury his father, with whom he had always been at odds. Orr’s character takes a deep journey on the day of the funeral, with visions that guide him toward some sense of answer. Through all this plays the music Tinsley and his musicians (including Dave Matthews and band bassist Stefan Lessard) created. The music leads the film, per say. There’s very little dialogue (“He is an ACTOR,” Tinsley says about Orr) but striking imagery and bombastic, rhythmic string and percussion music that has a slight DMB flavor.
This isn’t the first time Tinsley has been associated with Woodstock. He opened the 1989 20-year Woodstock Music & Arts Fair in Woodstock (featuring Levon Helm and others), and a few years later, he and the Dave Matthews Band recorded their breakthrough mainstream success “Under the Table and Dreaming” at Bearsville Studios.
“It’s just such a chill place,” Tinsley. “And it had so much to do with the album. The album has sort of this bittersweet, haunting quality to it … and all that came from here. The energy and the vibe you hear, it came from here.”
During the recording the band even walked into the old Tinker Street Cafe and jammed on stage. Hard to do that today for the Dave Matthews Band, which is a global force.
“Faces in the Mirror” screened at 9 p.m. Saturday at Upstate Films Rhinebeck.