By Brittany Rotondo:
Exactly three years ago, I stumbled upon writing a piece on a Secret KIDD and an upcoming documentary: Kenn Kweder. Does the name ring hells bells? Now, 1,095 days later, we have John Hutelmyer’s directorial debut, “Adventures of a Secret Kidd: The Mass Hallucination of Kenn Kweder”.
The documentary which started out as a crowd funding effort, has raised over $25,000 and is now ready for it’s official SOLD OUT release March 25, at International House’s renown Ibrahim Theater.
It seems the enigmatic ziggy stardust has fatefully followed Kenn Kweder his entire folk rock career, and now we have proof. The Southwest Philadelphia native who exerts nothing but a profanity laced, ever perplexing nature, is assuredly confident about the forthcoming film. “When John Hutelmyer approached me about the Kweder documentary it seemed like the next logical step in my sprawling career. It seemed inevitable to me. Had to be. Hutelmyer is brilliant.“
For co-producer Rob Nicolaides, and first time Director John Hutelmyer, what began as a general intrigue and ten minute flick about the Kerouacian singer songwriter, turned into a piece of what I’m sure will be a treasured commodity of the times and how they are a changin’.
“I was looking for some new music to expand my tastes and going through [my dad’s] CD collection, I came across Kenn’s Kwederology set and remembered this was a guy that my dad had told some pretty crazy stories about.”, says Hutelmyer.
Some of those vaudevillian stories like pissing off Patti Smith, littering City Hall with his own face, gyrating as Elvis and vodka fueled taxi cab rides, led to a moniker which forever cemented Kweder on Philadelphia’s stage: The Mayor of South Street. (You can even decode Steve Powers’ latest mural which includes Philadelphia favorites, Kurt Vile, Pure Hell and Kenn himself, underneath the Market-Frankford Line on 2nd Street, for evidence.)
“Those titles ‘Mayor of South Street’ and ‘Messiah”, explains Kweder, “came about from living a very exaggerated lifestyle in the 1970’s and into the 90’s! Defying gravity and proving insurance companies wrong!” Just dare the self described Folkie.
Decades later though, he still hits the pavement, 6 nights a week, to play for the multigenerational audiences that applaud his crooked genius. “I think the reason I have a following is because I have a good sense of contemporary and semi existentialist humor when I’m on stage. Nothing is better than singing along to a performer who can simultaneously point out the utter absurdity of life and make you laugh. That’s my job!“ A job he’s done quite exceptionally. Even David Fricke of Rolling Stone Magazine thinks so, once dubbing Kweder as “A madcap take on 60’s Dylan with a garage punk.”
Hutelmyer describes filming with Kenn as thoughtful and deliberate. “Most of our shooting involved showing up to gigs and filming performances. To be honest, before I started the film, there was a part of me that didn’t even want to do a sit down interview with Kenn. I almost wanted every time Kenn spoke to be coming straight from the mic, from the banter he gives off in-between songs. We did deviate away from this, but went out of the way to show Kenn playing. I really want to stress how much of his life takes place in these bars.”
A pioneer, a poet, a pirate and pyro. Kenn Kweder is deservingly front and center in this altruistic take on the life of The Mayor of South Street.
In Kenn’s own words, “I think the film is spot on about dedicating one’s life to being a performer. Funny, sad, deep, light, and a must see if one is deranged enough to enter SHOWBIZ! If you’re a painting on canvas, the desire is the artist. Not the painting.”
*Fret not, City Dwellers. Even though the movie premiere is SOLD OUT, you can still catch the Friday afternoon Matinee (March 25th 3:30PM) for “Adventures of a Secret Kidd: The Mass Hallucination of Kenn Kweder”! Tickets available here: