In the early days of the first motion pictures, sound could not be captured on film. Audiences watching silent films were treated to live music accompanying a film. By the late 1920s, a sound system called the Vitaphone allowed the audience to watch a movie alongside a score played on phonograph records. Launch’s Tuesday night event at Bows & Arrows allowed us to travel back in time – back to the days of live music accompanying great films from the early 20th century, when silent films were in their heyday.

Going into this event, I had no idea what to expect. I don’t think I was alone in this sentiment. Nobody knew what was going to happen, what the bands would be playing, or if the movies would be any good. But each movie just kept getting better, and after each band began their set, the instruments being played evoked such excitement that the crowd hung on every note. They gasped when the drums banged, they laughed when the horns blared, and they sighed a collective sigh of relief when the last notes were played and the movie protagonist was delivered safe and sound at the end of the movie filled with so much drama. Then came the thunderous applause and the sense of amazement for the talented musicians who had just taken us on such a roller coaster ride of emotions.

The musicians participating in this event were Ross Hammond, DD Walker, and  Gentleman Surfer. The movies selected were The Fall of the House of Usher (1928), La Joie de Vivre (1934), His Marriage Vow (1925), The Tantalizing Fly (1919), and Neighbors (1920).

Launch continues at various Sacramento venues through Saturday, July 28. More information at

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Words and photos Lorraine Gonzalez

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