Late last year I contacted the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA to inquire about the possibility of a screening of The Blues Brothers. If you are unfamiliar with the Colonial, here’s some quick information:
The 658-seat Colonial Theatre is located in the heart of downtown Phoenixville, Pennsylvania at 227 Bridge Street. Opened in 1903, the Colonial is the last surviving of four theatres once existing in the borough and is the only theatre of its kind in Chester County. In its early days, the Colonial was home to live stage shows, vaudeville acts and musicals including appearances by Harry Houdini and Mary Pickford. Real movie buffs know that the Colonial was featured in the 1958 science fiction classic, The Blob, starring Steve McQueen and filmed in and around Phoenixville.
The theatre is owned and operated by the Association for the Colonial Theatre (ACT), a nonprofit corporation, which re-opened the theatre in 1999. The Colonial’s programming includes art and independent films seven nights a week, classic films, programs for young audiences, live concerts, and community events. ACT is committed to the full restoration of the Colonial as a cultural arts center.
The Colonial has a Cult Cinema series that I thought the Blues Brothers would fit right into. I’ve always wanted to see the film on “the big screen” and thought this would be a great opportunity. I emailed them to introduce myself and told them about the Bluesmobile. They seemed very excited about the notion and said they would fit it into their schedule as soon as they could. Fast forwarding a few months, they obtained an original 35mm print of the movie, and we were set for a Friday night showing.
I drove the Bluesmobile to Phoenixville a few hours before the show, driving down Bridge Street with some Peter Gunn blasting through the roof speaker, turning a lot of of heads. I parked it right across the street from the theatre and hung out to greet passers-by and fans of The Blues Brothers.
One of the guys working for You’ve Got Geek (they sponsored the screening) showed up in classic Blues Brothers attire and posed for some pics with the car.
All in all, there was a great turn-out for the showing, especially considering if ended well after midnight. The 35mm print was still in good shape even after 33 years. It was wonderful to see the movie I love so much on the silver screen, and I love knowing that there are still so many fans of this great film out there. I look forward to the next Bluesmobile adventure.
The West Chester Halloween parade was my first parade with the Bluesmobile, and my first outing with a “Jake” by my side. My friend Dan, who’s a huge fan of the Blues Brothers, was more than willing to take the role. Thousands came out to line the streets of West Chester, PA and tons of fans showed their support by shouting movie quotes and cheering on “Jake & Elwood.” We rolled down the streets blasting those wonderful tunes from the film, including Peter Gunn, Gimme Some Lovin’, Minnie the Moocher, and lots more.
This year I participated in the Paoli Blues Fest with my Bluesmobile. It was a 6-hour event that included live Blues bands, vendors, and lots of people. It was great exposure for the Bluesmobile. I had a lot of interesting conversations and was glad to see there are still sooo many Blues Brothers fans out there. Seeing the smiling faces is what it’s all about!
Chester County Life Magazine published an article on the Blues Fest in which I was mentioned. You can read about it here.
I also ran into the Philly Phanatic while I was there:
Dan Aykroyd has been busy lately promoting his line of vodka, Crystal Head. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to meet him and to maybe get him to sign my Bluesmobile. One day I noticed that he’d be in Harrisburg, PA at a bottle signing event. Harrisburg is only a 2 hour drive for me, so how could I not jump at this opportunity. I anxiously put the event on my calendar.
In the mean time, my friends out in Detroit who own an Ecto-1 were in the same boat, though their event would be in Canada, a 4-hour drive for them. They went one step further and got in contact with the Marketing people at Crystal Head to see if Dan would even be willing to sign their Ecto-1. They found out that, apparently, he LOVES doing this kind of thing, so things were looking up.
I drove the Bluesmobile out to Harrisburg on the day of the event, with a whole bunch of things for Dan to hopefully sign. When we arrived (I brought along a friend who’s also a huge Aykroyd fan) there was already a long line of people who were cheering and admiring the car. We parked and another Ecto-1 eventually parked next to me.
After a few hours of waiting in line, we finally made it into the liquor store where the signing was taking place.
Dan signed everything I brought: my Blues Brothers blu-ray, a headshot, a photo book, and two bottles of his vodka (at $50 a pop). When he saw the picture of my Bluesmobile on the cover of the photo book, his words were: “Wow, that’s a really nice one… it’s perfect!” I told him that I brought it with me and would love it if he would come see it and maybe sign the dash. He leaned in to me and whispered that if I waited until the event was over and drove it around back, when he came out he would sign it. I WAS SO EXCITED!!!
Fast forward a few more hours and it’s nighttime now. After waiting anxiously the door finally swung open and out came Dan and his posse. He posed for a quick photo, got in the car, signed the dash, and off he went.
Needless to say, I am so pleased that he was gracious enough to do this, and now I can say that Dan Aykroyd sat in and signed my Bluesmobile! A high point in my life, no doubt.