On Jan. 28, 2008, three guys got together to talk about guitars. While it happens every day all over the world, this meeting was different.
The three men were The Edge, Jimmy Page and Jack White, and that meeting was captured on film by "An Inconvenient Truth" director Davis Guggenheim. The resulting picture, "It Might Get Loud," arrives in Milwaukee this month.
Maybe one has to be a musician to appreciate this film, but I suspect not. Fans of these guitarists and their bands: U2, Led Zeppelin, The White Stripes and The Raconteurs will love the footage and "spending time" with their guitar heroes. They'll also appreciate the insights that this "Behind the Music"-style film provides.
We learn about their first guitars and how they got started in music and with their bands. We hear behind the scenes stories about recording landmark works like Led Zeppelin's fourth album.
We venture to important places in their histories: the country manor where that Zep record was created, the seaside cottage where U2 rehearsed "War" and the Dublin school where the band first met and took formative steps toward become a full-fledged outfit.
Best of all, we see some great rare footage. Young Jimmy Page -- having just learned the guitar -- performing a skiffle tune on English television. He looks about 12. The Edge seems only slightly older in a clip of U2 playing a previously unheard song.
When they talk philosophy, it's the most interesting. Page is the poster boy for self-indulgent '70s dinosaur rock that The Edge says his band was formed in reaction to.
The Edge makes no bones about his love for technology and the huge role effects units play in his sound, while White hammers home the idea that technology is his musical enemy.
Yet they all find common ground, not only in their common instrument, but in their influences -- both Page and White are blues disciples (and the latter is clearly a scion of Page and Robert Plant) -- and in their spirit.
White sums up that spirit when he says, "We're all doing the same thing: attempting to share something with another human being."
Their rapport is especially apparent in one of the film's most charming scenes: the three guitarists attempt to learn a song to perform together -- The Band's "The Weight" --and they struggle a bit with the chord changes and harmonies.
We also get to see them perform together on songs like U2's "I Will Follow," Led Zeppelin's version of "In My Time of Dying" and The White Stripes' "Dead Leave on the Dirty Ground."
Those scenes remind us of something else these musicians have in common. They are team players -- key players, certainly, on those teams -- whose best work was created in the context of collaboration and partnership with other musicians.
So, it should come as no surprise that they play well with each other. After all, they play well with others.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.