Watch CBS News

Local all-star orchestra plays classic soundtracks for SF Sketchfest at Great American

While session veteran and keyboard/trumpet player Marc Capelle still occasionally sets backsides in motion as the leader of his all-star R&B revue Marc & the Casuals, the busy musician is finding more and more time taken up by another project far more ambitious project: the Red Room Orchestra.

The versatile player frequently performs with groups paying tribute to specific bands or songwriters, but his latest creative outlet has found Capelle and his collaborators recreating a remarkable range of material. The Red Room Orchestra was initially formed to pay tribute to the music featured in "Twin Peaks," the surreal television show by iconic director David Lynch that saw a revival with "Twin Peaks: The Return" on Showtime in 2019.

Roy Orbison - In dreams - from the movie Blue Velvet by A M on YouTube

Lynch's unique cinematic creations have always put music in the spotlight, from the singing Lady in the Radiator from the director's 1977 debut and the bizarre visage of Dean Stockwell lip synching to the Roy Orbison hit "In Dreams" in his Oscar-nominated breakthrough Blue Velvet through his use of both '50s and modern rock in Wild at Heart and Lost Highway during the '90s. Lynch made music a cornerstone of "Twin Peaks" and its 1992 cinematic prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, collaborating with his longtime composer Angelo Badalamenti on original songs like the hit "Mysteries of Love" sung by Julee Cruise -- who would release a full album of Lynch/Badalamenti tunes and appeared in both the series and film. Sadly, both Cruise and Badalamenti passed away in 2022.

RED ROOM ORCHESTRA - "Twin Peaks Theme/Laura Palmer's Theme" (Angelo Badalamenti covers) 7/28/17 by gridlifeTV on YouTube

In the summer of 2017 after an initial more stripped-down performance in the Chapel bar with a smaller ensemble, Capelle gathered a high-powered group of San Francisco musicians including Dirty Ghosts guitarist Allyson Baker, Persephone's Bees guitarist Tom Ayers, drummer Todd Roper (Chuck Prophet, Cake), percussionist Larry Mullins (aka Toby Dammit, who has played with Iggy Pop, the Residents, Swans and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds), singer Karina Denike (Dancehall Crashers, NOFX, the Cottontails), violinist/vocalist Dina Maccabee and saxophonist Tom Griesser (New Morty Show, Brass Monkey, the Cottontails) to play the music of "Twin Peaks" and more Lynch-related offerings at the music venue, taking the stage with an expanded group that was christened the Red Room Orchestra in front of a packed house for a transporting night of atmospheric music.

The positive reception of that show would lead the group to partner with SF Sketchfest in 2018 for the first time to perform soundtrack-related music at the Chapel. The first night -- scheduled to coincide with a tribute to "Twin Peaks" featuring cast members from the original show held at the Castro earlier in the day -- featured onstage appearances by many actors from the series including Sherilyn Fenn -- who helped judge and Audrey Horne dance contest -- and actual song performances by "Twin Peaks; The Return" star and local product Chrysta Bell (who brought down the house with her rendition of the Jimmy Scott song "Sycamore Trees" from the original series), James Marshall and Ray Wise, who stepped into his Leland Palmer character to sing "Mairzy Doats."

Red Room Orchestra: Music from Twin Peaks by Symphony Space on YouTube

Since then, the group has presented additional nights of music paying tribute to the creative musical curation of director Wes Anderson -- playing the songs used for his films RushmoreThe Royal Tenenbaums and more with a variety of special guests -- the soundtrack to the Cohen Brothers' cult favorite The Big Lebowski and the music from Paul Thomas Anderson's breakout film, the '70s porn industry period piece Boogie Nights. Last year for the 20th anniversary edition of SF Sketchfest, the ensemble paid tribute to the iconic punk film Repo Man with a bracing evening of hardcore classics that included appearances by director Alex Cox as well as major soundtrack contributor Tito Larriva and Circle Jerks bassist and cast member Zander Schloss.

This year, the band's engagement at the Great American Music Hall for SF Sketchfest will be spread over two weekends. On Friday, the group will perform the music from the 1987 comedy cult classic vampire flick, The Lost Boys. Filmed in Santa Cruz (which stood in as fictional beach town Santa Carla), the movie about a divorced mother and her two teenage sons moving to a coastal burg that turns out to be a oceanside haven of vampires features '80s fixtures the two Corys -- both Feldman and Haim -- and Kiefer Southerland as the leader of a teenage biker gang of bloodsuckers. Along with the late '80s pre-Hot Topic goth fashion sported by the young cast, the movie's soundtrack includes an array of period hitmakers like INXS, Foreigner vocalist Lou Gramm, Echo & the Bunnymen, and Eddie and the Tide. The beach concert scene with oiled-up muscled saxophonist Tim Cappello performing a cover of the Call's "I Still Believe" stands out an oft-referenced highlight.

The lost boys - I still believe scene by j mcG on YouTube

Cappello will perform the song this Friday, with additional appearances by fellow cast member Alex Winter (who played teen vampire gang member Marko, but is better known as Bill S. Preston Esq. from the Bill & Ted movie series), and guest vocalists Brad Brooks (the MC5), Chaki the Funk Wizard, iconic SF drag queen Peaches Christ, returning comedian/musician Dave Hill, Porchlight Storytelling co-founder Arline Klatte, Oxbow singer Eugene Robinson. DJ Omar Perez (Popscene, Leisure) warms up the crowd.

Harold and Maude • If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out • Cat Stevens by HD Film Tributes on YouTube

On Tuesday, Jan. 30, the RRO returns to the Great American to perform songs from the beloved 1971 Hal Ashby comedy Harold and Maude. The dark comedy about a death-obsessed teen played by Bud Cort who spends his time faking elaborate suicides and attending funerals until he befriends septuagenarian free spirit Maude (Ruth Gordon) who teaches him how to seize the day and enjoy life to the fullest. The movie was filmed at locations throughout San Francisco and features classic tunes of British folk-rock star Cat Stevens throughout. The Red Room Orchestra plays those songs along with other incidental music from the film with guests including SF comedian Margaret Cho, frequent guest vocalist Petra Haden, and comic/SF Sketchfest co-founder Janet Varney.

The group closes out its SF Sketchfest appearances on Wednesday, Jan. 31, with its annual salute to the music of "Twin Peaks," paying special tribute to none other than Special Agent Dale Cooper, Kyle McLachlan, who will appear in person. To honor Lynch's frequent leading man, the ensemble will present additional songs from his films for the director including Dune and Blue Velvet. The evening will also feature the actor in conversation as well as in several surreal interactions with fellow "Twin Peaks" cast member Carel Struycken (The Giant/The Fireman), who made a mesmerizing appearance at last year's "Twin Peaks" celebration. Other guests include Cho, Haden, Varney along with Porchlight Storytelling co-founder and writer/actress Beth Lisick.  

SF Sketchfest: The Red Room Orchestra plays the music of The Lost Boys
Friday, Jan. 18, 8 p.m. $28-$48
Great American Music Hall

SF Sketchfest: The Red Room Orchestra plays the music of Harold and Maude
Tuesday, Jan. 30, 8 p.m. $28-$48
Great American Music Hall

SF Sketchfest: The Red Room Orchestra plays the music of "Twin Peaks" and more
Wednesday, Jan. 31, 8 p.m. $55-$125
Great American Music Hall

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.