The Whiskey Treaty to perform, screen documentary

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PITTSFIELD >> The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow will be dusting the trails from New York City to Albuquerque this spring, but this Friday, this music and film collaborative will be making a pit stop in their beloved Berkshires.

The short film (www.thewhiskeytreaty.com) has already garnered awards and acceptance into six film festivals, and will be screened at 7 p.m., followed by a live performance at Dottie's Coffee Lounge on North Street.

Resonating the universal appeal of Americana, rock and roots-folk music, the singer-songwriters involved in this collective represent the diaspora of the commonwealth, with a lean on Western Massachusetts: Pittsfield's own Billy Keane, former Pittsfield resident and Buckland native Tory Hanna, Boston's David Tanklefsky, and Brooklyn-dweller and Buckland/Charlemont native Greg Smith. Abe Loomis of Northampton and Conway also had a heavy hand in the lineup for live shows and also the 23-minute documentary film, directed by Tim Bradley of Rowe who resides in Newburyport.

Behind this band of brothers is Susie Hanna, the film's executive producer of Daisy Stone Studio, and convener of the 2012 Whiskey Treaty Festival of Western Mass. musicians, which was held a subsequent year at Greenfield's Arts Block.

Each of the Whiskey Treaty members performed in the festival with their respective bands or as solo projects. But the camaraderie forged among them during the festival gave rise to The Whiskey Treaty.

Susie Hanna and Bradley sensed the spark, so Bradley gathered some of his filmmaking friends and a cache of cameras — ranging from professional high-definition equipment to a Super 8 mm for vintage aesthetic — and prepared to follow them for four nights last July as they performed a series of live shows across the state. In between, each musician offers his own narrative and Bradley manages to curate a series of five music videos, seemingly shot organically against a primarily Western Massachusetts backdrop, and seamlessly stitched into the film.

"If you love original music by singer-songwriters then it's really something to see these guys play with each other, backing each other up. It offers a different perspective than just a band," Bradley said in a phone interview.

The 31-year-old quipped that he doesn't play music himself — "I live vicariously through them on stage" — and he only drinks whiskey "when Tory makes me."

Tory Hanna and Bradley's friendship dates back to Mohawk Trail Regional High School and Middle School, and both share a passion for artistic pursuits, with this one being a natural fit.

"The Treaty really just represents a shared experience, a shared desire to be bigger than yourself," Hanna says in the film.

The documentary itself taps into each man's search for freedom of expression and the creative process. The process pushes for the organic, from recording the original music outdoors in Hanna's driveway versus a studio to filming scenes while walking through the woods by the Becket Land Trust and Quarry, rambling by the Deerfield River and strumming on the porch of the Chester Railway Station.

"Especially if you're from Western Massachusetts, I think we come close to hitting the nail on head in embodying the spirit there. But even if you're from elsewhere, there's this sense of home, this sense of place the project speaks to," said Bradley. "You can learn a lot about your own backyard and see how the music and lyrics in this project really speak to that."

The filmmaker said it was Keane who suggested filming at Ashintully Gardens in Tyringham, a 120-acre Trustees of Reservations estate still studded with four majestic Doric columns, the remains of a Georgian-style mansion now overtaken by underbrush and wildflowers.

"It was great in a number of ways, from the very tangible aspect of being able to show my friends this spot ... which has got a comfortable feeling and is yet so visually stunning," Keane told The Eagle.

"The Berkshires pretty much feels like home to me now, but that wasn't the case when I first came here," said Keane, who originally hails from Mansfield, Conn., and arrived to the Berkshires about five years ago.

He's since nestled into the neighborhood just fine, and said he's eager to share both the film and live roadshow in Pittsfield on Friday.

"This is almost a homecoming. I hope people are able to enjoy [the project] and take pride in it," he said. "It's good music, we're having good time doing it, and we're proud of fact we're from around here. I think people can get down with that connectivity."

Contact reporter Jenn Smith at 413-496-6239.

About the band

Members: Tory Hanna, Billy Keane, Greg Smith and David Tanklefsky, featuring Abe Loomis

Film director: Tim Bradley

Executive producer: Susie Hanna

On the web: www.thewhiskeytreaty.com

Upcoming live shows in the region:

Friday, May 1: Movie and music at Dottie's Coffee Lounge, 444 North St., Pittsfield. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., show starts at 8. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 day of.

Saturday, May 9: Live show at the SIT Graduate Institute Year End Festival, Brattleboro, Vt.

Saturday, May 23: Live show at SummerSound Live Festival at Tanglewood, Lenox.

Film festival appearances:

• Bare Bones International Independent Film, Arts & Music Festival, April 10-19, Muskogee, Okla.

• SENE Film, Music & Arts Festival, April 20-25, Providence, R.I.

• Visionfest Film Festival, May 13-17, New York, N.Y.

• Hoboken International Film Festival, May 29 - June 4, Middletown, N.Y.

• Albuquerque Film & Music Experience, June 1-7, Albuquerque, N.M.

• World Music and Independent Film Festival, August 2015, Washington, D.C.


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