The Grammy-winning band the Arcade Fire, which has strong local Maine connections, is releasing a full length documentary, “The Reflektor Tapes,” documenting the recording and 2014 tour of their Billboard number one album “Reflektor,” which made a stop in Bangor in August 2014. The movie, directed by Kahlil Joseph, will be shown U.S.-wide for one day only on Sept. 23, 2015, and locally that day at Reel Pizza Cinerama in Bar Harbor at 6 p.m. It’s the only Maine screening of the documentary.
That same day, Southwest Harbor resident Liza Rey Butler, mother of core Arcade Fire band members Win and Will Butler, and a highly regarded professional harpist, singer-songwriter and television performer, is planning to pre-release copies of her album of family lullabies recorded on MDI and in Montreal for her young grandsons. The album captures the lullaby music of her multi-generational professional musical family and her husband’s family from Mt. Desert Island.
Although not born in Maine, the Arcade Fire members have strong Mt. Desert Island ties. E. Farnham Butler, local yacht designer and boatyard owner, was the paternal grandfather of Arcade Fire founder, Win Butler and his brother Will. Farnham, who first came to MDI in 1911, became an avid sailor and, after graduating from Harvard, he bought a local boatyard during the depression. In 1938 he married Gladys Whitmore (Butler), a member of a long-time Southwest Harbor family who was actually raised in Hawaii. Her father, John had gone to Hawaii in 1902 to manage a pineapple plantation for James Dole, whose family summered in Southwest Harbor.
The Arcade Fire first came together and recorded on MDI in the summers of 2002, 2003 and 2004, prior to the release of their acclaimed first studio album “Funeral”. Win Butler, his wife Regine Chassange and his brother Will recorded their first EP as the Arcade Fire in their great-great-great-great grandfather’s barn in Southwest Harbor. All of the band ‘camped out’ on the family farm, which became the home of James Whitmore in 1837, some 20 years after he settled on the Island, and married a Stanley girl with roots on Cranberry Island. Almost all the band members at that time worked at summer jobs in Southwest Harbor at The Moorings, The Claremont, Sawyer’s Wine and Cheese Shop and at Little Notch bakery, and they played music late into the night.
Just before their first tour for “Funeral” in October 2004 the band recorded their first video (“Rebellion: Lies,” with millions of views on YouTube) on High Road in Southwest Harbor. The video ended in their great-great grandfather’s house on Bass Harbor Road and the Old Burying Ground on High Road. Local children, including current MDI High School soccer star Opal Curless who was about 6 years old at the time, were in that video. Arcade Fire opened that 2004 tour at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor on Halloween night. Within a year they were on the cover of Time magazine in Canada, they had recorded a Grammy-nominated song for the TV show “Six Feet Under”, performed with David Bowie at Fashion Rocks in NYC and were on the David Letterman show.
Fast forward ten years to 2015, and after winning the Album of the Year Grammy award in 2011 for their album “The Suburbs,” Arcade Fire produced another Billboard #1 album “Reflektor”. It was released in 2013 the band and extensively toured in Europe, North and South America, Australia and Japan. On that tour
they headlined large music festivals, like Glastonbury and Rock in Rio, and played large concerts in arenas, including three sold-out nights for nearly 20,000 each night at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, NY. The movie blends, in artistic ways, their song-writing, arranging and recording in diverse settings like Jamaica, Haiti and their home base, Montreal, Canada with later interviews and performances of those songs on tour.
The Butler brothers’ talent comes from their mother Liza Rey Butler and her family. Liza’s mother was a “King Sister,” a famous 1940’s Sister Act recently showcased in a PBS documentary. Luise was married to orchestra leader and guitarist Alvino Rey. Their album “Imagination” was nominated for a Grammy and they went on to create a weekly musical variety show on ABC TV. Liza performed on the show, often with her harp, but also as a young singer recorded on albums for big-name artists like Frank Sinatra, Doris Day and others. Liza, after graduate school, played in the CBS Orchestra for television shows and later was harpist for many of the well-known artists who performed in the Reno-Tahoe area in the 1970s and 80s.
As pre-teens Win and Will often performed with Liza’s musical group for school concerts when they lived in the Houston area, a time that was the inspiration for their album “The Suburbs”.
Presales of Liza’s new lullaby album, “Go to Sleep My Baby” at lizarey.com. The lullabies are traditional except for the first track, “Go to Sleep My Baby,” a family song, and “Nighty Night,” sung by the King Sisters to the troops on Armed Forces Radio during World War II. Liza will celebrating her boys’ musical success and will sell and sign her CDs at the Reel Pizza event on Sept. 23.