Good Time Music Video

Quiana Parler, Ranky Tanky lead vocalist. 

"Good Time" Music Video  Marks First for Charleston Filmmaker

When Kevin Harrison got the nod to begin production on his first BIG BUDGET music video, he was both thrilled and honored to have been chosen for the project. Harrison has been involved in film and video production in the Charleston area for many years, beginning his career as the creative director for Production Design Associates (PDA) in 2007. In 2011, his wife (former channel 4 news anchor Cathy O’Hara) was fortunate to become an early hire with airbnb, which enabled their entire family the opportunity to move to Barcelona in 2012 and eventually to Dublin, Ireland in 2014. Harrison continued working with an American film studio while living abroad, but after 5 years they returned to Charleston. 

Harrison is probably best known for his work in documentary filmmaking. He produced and edited on several feature film projects, including editing the behind the scenes for different films starring such actors as Robert Deniro, John Cusak, Andie MacDowell and Louis Gossette Jr. In 2018 he was hired as the art director and editor on a feature documentary film about Prince and his early influences growing up on the north side of Minneapolis. The film is titled “Mr. Nelson: on the North Side,” and is due out later this year. He worked as the chief editor on a documentary film about the effects of music on the developing brain called “Find Your Groove.” This film includes Whoppi Goldburg, Kevin Bacon, Tony Bennett, Rosario Dawson, Nev Campbell and many others. Adding a music video to his growing list of credits seemed a natural and exciting next step.

“Producing a music video is certainly in my wheelhouse,” states Harrison. “As a painter and musician, music is an area of interest monumentally important to me.” It is the secret ingredient to any video that I edit.

But Harrison wasn’t leaving anything to chance. From the moment he got the go-ahead, he dove head-first into the project with his heart and soul. This one wasn’t just business…it was also personal. Three members of the band were good friends of his, and there was no way Harrison was going to let them down. They trusted me with their baby so it was my responsibility to live up to their expectations.

Ranky Tanky took the jazz scene by storm with the release of their eponymous debut album in October 2017. The album, produced by band member Quentin Baxter and released by Resilience Music Alliance, Inc., soon caught the attention of Terry Gross, host of NPR’s “Fresh Air,” the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues that features intimate conversations with today’s biggest luminaries. Following a profile on the show, the band’s album soared to #1 on the Billboard charts, as well as Spotify, iTunes and Amazon jazz charts.

All seasoned musicians – Quentin Baxter, drums and percussion; Kevin Hamilton, bass; Quiana Parler, lead vocalist; Clay Ross, guitar and vocals; and Charlton Singleton, trumpet and vocals – they had played together in various bands and combinations for many years. But the band that evolved into Ranky Tanky seemed different, with its new signature sound based in the GULLAH traditions deeply rooted in the fertile soil of South Carolina’s sea islands.

Listening to Ranky Tanky certainly reveals a special brand of jazz influenced by blues, folk, gospel, even reggae. But the description falls short without the celebratory musical sounds that rose out of the Gullah culture of enslaved West Africans. Today, the Gullah traditions can still be seen in the way they worship, the way they cook, the way they speak and especially in their music.

Charlton Singleton on trumpet.

Clay Ross takes the lead.

For Quentin Baxter and Charlton Singleton who grew up attending churches in the Gullah community, this genre of music was the first they heard, the first they learned to sing and play. It’s the music imbedded in their DNA, and lives just below the surface of their musical expressions. Now their ancestral music has emerged as the driving sound behind Ranky Tanky.

 

“In Gullah, ‘ranky tanky’ means ‘get funky’ or ‘work it,’” explains Baxter, a twice Grammy-nominated musician/producer who continues to tour with jazz vocalist, René Marie. “As the band developed, we cared enough to reach out and get a nod from the Gullah community…to let them know this was something we were doing. If your home doesn’t dig you why should anyone else?”  

 

That nod of approval from the Gullah culture quickly turned into a standing ovation from the jazz world. As the demand for Ranky Tanky grew, band members slowly began letting go of many of their other professional gigs to focus more of their collective energy on their latest musical endeavor.

As production of the band’s second album, “Good Time” reached critical mass, the band committed to making a music video featuring the album’s title track, “Good Time.” As it happened, Harrison began the process by reaching out to members of Charleston’s illustrative jazz community. As he began to get his head around the genuine affection the Charleston community had for their home-grown musical ambassadors, Harrison simply rode the organic wave of energy, as storyline and location ideas rolled in. “By the time we were ready to shoot the video, we didn’t need to have a casting call for extras,” states Harrison. “W hand-picked people to be extras in the video.“It was literally a reunion of people who had been friends of ours for years who came together to help us out,” adds Baxter. “It turned into a real celebration.” People were saying that normally someone has to die in order to get this many people to come together after so many years. 

In addition to writing the storyline for the video, Harrison served as both the director and editor of “Good Time.” He pulled in two trusted film-industry colleagues, Keith Bradshaw and David Keller, to man the cameras, with Doug Watters assisting. Rounding out the crew was Set Photographer Paul Cheney and production assistant Marguerite Chalmers.

Ranky Tanky fans including Mayor John Tecklenburg take over the floor during filming.

Behind the scenes with actress Alicia Brooks while filming the music video with members of Ranky Tanky (Kevin Hamilton - left, Quentin Baxter - right).

rankytanky-03.jpg

Camera wiz David Keller lines up his job/crane for the next take.

Director Kevin Harrison filming Clay Ross in front of The American Theater.

The seven-minute video captures the transformative spirit of Ranky Tanky’s music fusion. Cameo appearances by prominent members of Charleston’s jazz community – Benny Gardner, owner of the notorious Mr. b’s Private Club; Osei Chandler, who’s hosted a Reggae music show on public radio for 40 years...the longest running show on public radio. Dr. Karen Chandler who co-authored the book with the legendary Jack McCray titled “CHARLESTON JAZZ” and Gullah Queen Miss Caroline “JABULILAY” White. It was literally a Who’s Who of Charleston Jazz in attendance the night of the filming of the crowd scene.

 

Sermet Asalan, owner of several jazz clubs in Charleston throughout the years; and even Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, an accomplished jazz pianist – helped give the video shoot inside the old “A Touch of Class” jazz club, the authentic juke-joint feel the band was going for.

The video was released at a teaser prior to the July 12, 2019 release of Ranky Tanky’s sophomore album, “Good Time” which promptly earned the “Highest Ranking Debut” Award from Billboard’s Jazz Chart. At last look, “Good Time” ranked #2 on that chart just behind Michael Bublé’s “Love” album. Fans of Ranky Tanky can watch the video a dozen times straight and pick up different details each time. Clearly, Harrison’s fingerprints were all over every second of video, massaging it to masterful perfection.

Harrison has now turned his attention to the second in a series of three music videos Ranky Tanky plans to produce over the next 6 months. Stay tuned.

Harrison standing out front of the the gallery during one of his art openings back in 2013. 

Kevin chilling out at home in Barcelona, 2012.

Harrison putting the final touches on one of his paintings of an old style movie poster for the film Starring Robert DeNiro and John Cusack originally titled MOTEL (released under the title THE BAG MAN).

© 2019 Southeast Film Guide