Toadstool Shadow’s “Folk Songs of the American Wood Elf” hits the big screen

About 20 years ago, Ohio musician Chris Till saw a book piled up on the sidewalk. It was a children’s book and the cover depicted an anthropomorphic rabbit sheltering from the rain under a red mushroom. Until he saves the book – I am a rabbitIllustrated by Richard Scarry – From the Stack.

“This image of the rabbit under the Amanita muscaria mushroom, which is one of the shamanic mushrooms, I love this image,” Till recently said by phone from his home in Chillicothe, where he recently moved from living in Yellow Springs. . really peaceful – this little rabbit taking refuge – and it is this image that has germinated the [band] name Toadstool Shadow.

Scarry’s artwork also sparked the idea for Toadstool Shadow’s 2020 psych-pop album, Rainbow nights, which tells the story of a 7-year-old rabbit who stays dry under a giant mushroom. “When the rain stops and it gets dark, he jumps home alone into the rainbow night,” Till said. “There are seven songs – ‘Red Night’, ‘Orange Night’, ‘Yellow Night’, ‘Green Night’ and so on. “Elves playing music all night. Some of them are initially quite nice and funny, so it’s fun to see these fantastical creatures. But as the night progresses, it gets scary.

The trip set the tone for Toadstool Shadow, a self-proclaimed “elfcore” band that doubles as a concept art project based on the idea that groups of fairies and elves lurk in bushes and alleyways while around us. “A fairy tale opera was that French and German art form of the 1700s/1800s that’s sort of gone now, but they told serious stories through fairy tale characters,” said Till, a singer and multi-instrumentalist who last year hosted “New Elf City,” an imaginary music festival on the moon. “A theme running through it all is that there’s a hidden realm just outside of our common consciousness. .”

Continued:Move over, live streams: New Elf City is an imaginary music festival on the moon

The little rabbit returned home safe and sound at the end of Rainbow nights, but the story was not over. The second part of the fairy tale opera arrived last month with Toadstool’s album Shadow American Wood Elf Folk Songswho catches up with the rabbit years later, at 19.

“He’s an intense rabbit, a little troubled, because he always remembers what happened to him when he was little. He had this fantastic visionary experience, but he never really knew if it was real or an illusion or a dream,” Till said. “It was so deep for him, but it’s not something you can talk about fluently.”

Shadow Poisonous Mushroom

To resolve this tension, the Rabbit returns to the Rainbow Nights, only this time he brings a video camera to document the experience, capturing the fairies and elves on film. Till and his bandmates have also created videos to accompany these new songs, which serve as a taxonomy of fantastical creatures including unicorns, mermaids, pixies and more.

Eventually, Toadstool Shadow, with the help of lead videographer Eli Bowsman, completed a movie script and shot enough footage for a 40-minute film, “Folk Songs of the American Wood Elf,” to be screened at the Clintonville Studio Theater. 35 Saturday. , September 11, at 11:30 p.m. (The film features two actors from Columbus: Leo David Fernandez as a leprechaun and Mary Weilbacher as a mermaid.)

The late-night screening fits the mood of the film perfectly, said Till, who envisions the experience as reminiscent of 1970s midnight screenings of cheap B-movies. “It’s amateurish,” he said. “We were just figuring that out as we went along.”

Despite the fairy tale setting and fairy tale characters, the film is not for children. For one thing, this part of the story doesn’t end well. The rabbit brings his video documentation to a sympathetic but incompetent psychiatrist, who diagnoses the rabbit with schizophrenia and prescribes him psychoactive drugs.

“It’s about sanity and the nature of reality and what’s really going on in the world. Is there really magic? Is there really another dimension? Until said, “I personally believe there is another realm, another world adjacent to ours that we don’t notice.”

The Rabbit, however, is not doomed to a spell of psychoactive drugs and false diagnoses. His story is not over yet. Like all good mythic journeys, this epic Toadstool Shadow is a trilogy. part three, Journey to the Glass Mountaincomes next.

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