Down to the music

Justin Brake
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Mark Bragg brings 'Down to the Dirt' soundtrack to CD

Illustration by Ken Simmons/The Telegram

"Down to the Dirt" is getting around.
The locally produced feature length film, based on the book of the same name by Newfoundland author Joel Thomas Hynes, has already made an appearance at the Toronto and Vancouver International Film Festivals, picked up a few awards at the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax, and will be screened at the St. John's International Women's Film Festival Oct. 14.
Mark Bragg hopes the film's soundtrack gains the same momentum.
The popular local folk-rock musician is responsible for the film's score and can now add the words "motion picture soundtrack" to his already impressive resume.
"It's gotta be a pretty specific type of film for someone like me to get the call," Bragg explains over a coffee at a downtown cafÉ. "Most movies have orchestral music."
"I had never done a score before. Justin (Simms) liked the records I had put out," he says of the director's request to have him make music for the film, "so I was invited to do the score and I jumped at it."
The CD features 17 predominantly new tracks by Bragg, including some instrumentals, but also includes some previously recorded songs and a few contributions by other local artists, like Blair Harvey and The Dregs, Lizband and Persona (a previous incarnation of The Novaks).
"It was a grueling attempt to write songs with lyrics that captured the feel of the scenes," says Bragg.
It didn't hurt that he had the expertise of Lorie Clark, an accomplished Newfoundland sound designer whose work on various local films has earned her a solid reputation on the island.
"I consulted her on the music and she was a mentor," says Bragg.
"Fire Sign," the soundtrack's opening song, possesses an oscillating haunting and destructive quality with Bragg singing "I wanna run, I wanna ride with the cowboys. I got a gun, I got a beef with the killjoys. Cause it's the right time, the right time to mess around."
"The Fighter", the last listed track on the album (there's an untitled "hidden" track at the end), is an anthem for Keith Kavanagh, the film's main character, played by Hynes himself. It also accompanies the end credits of the movie.
In between is an eclectic mix of songs from Bragg and his band, including "Two Weeks," Bragg's "best attempt at Hall and Oates," he jokes.
Blair Harvey and the Dregs' "Where Love Goes" is also a noteworthy number.
Needless to say, the music fits the film.
Bragg and his band held a CD release show at The Boat in Toronto after "Down to the Dirt" screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.
"There was good energy from people who had just seen the movie," he says.
Now they're getting ready to present the music to their hometown crowd.
Tonight, Bragg and his band will headline their St. John's CD release show at The Rock House. The Pathalogical Lovers - led by Jody Richardson, who played bad guy Francey O'Dea in the film - will open the show.
Showtime is 11 p.m. and admission is $10 or $20 with a CD.

Organizations: The Novaks, The Boat, The Rock House

Geographic location: Newfoundland, St. John's, Halifax Toronto

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