Lit­tle-known band left big legacy

Lives changed by hard-rock­ing So­Cal band that saw B.C. as sec­ond home

The Province - - ENTERTAINMENT - DANA GEE dgee@post­ twit­

At first glance it might seem a bit weird that a doc­u­men­tary about a So­Cal rock/punk/rock­a­billy band is open­ing the Lan­g­ley In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val (Feb. 16-18).

How­ever, the Cadil­lac Tramps, the band at the cen­tre of the film Cadil­lac Tramps: Life on the Edge, are kind of homies through as­so­ci­a­tion as they toured the Cana­dian West Coast quite ex­ten­sively dur­ing 1991-00. In fact, in 1994 alone, The Tramps gigged in Van­cou­ver three times.

“Canada was al­ways re­ally good to them. It is al­most like their sec­ond home,” said Jamie Sims Coak­ley, the di­rec­tor of the doc­u­men­tary and the wife of Brian Coak­ley, one of the Tramps’ gui­tar play­ers. “We were re­ally ex­cited when Lan­g­ley asked for the film.”

The film is as en­er­getic and heart­felt as the band it­self was. I was lucky enough to see them live in the day. Leav­ing one of their shows you were both ex­hausted and com­pletely ex­hil­a­rated. This was a rau­cous happy place, where au­di­ence mem­bers were en­cour­aged to slam into each other, but also hug one an­other.

Cadil­lac Tramps: Life on the Edge is one of six films at this year’s Lan­g­ley In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val (LIFF). It’ll be screened Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. Af­ter the film, Jamie and Brian will be on-hand to talk about the band and the movie.

Led by the charis­matic and un­re­lent­ing front­man, the late Mike (Gabby) Gaborno, The Tramps en­ter­tained au­di­ences and put fear in the hearts of other mu­si­cians who might find them­selves hav­ing to fol­low the Or­ange County, Calif., out­fit on stage.

De­spite the huge shout-outs and rev­er­ence from mu­si­cians from bands like No Doubt, Pearl Jam and Ran­cid, The Tramps never made it big in the record-deal, arena-tour sort of way, in turn leav­ing their his­tory to be more leg­endary than lu­cra­tive.

“Even af­ter ev­ery­thing and even af­ter mak­ing the film, I can’t put my fin­ger on it. I still can’t say there is one de­fin­i­tive thing,” said Jamie Coak­ley, when asked about the band miss­ing the big record deals and MTV suc­cess.

Coak­ley be­gan the film­mak­ing process in 2013, when it be­came clear that Gaborno’s health be­gan to crash.

He even­tu­ally died in Jan­uary 2017 at age 51 from liver dis­ease. Gaborno dealt with ad­dic­tion and al­co­holism for stretches of time be­tween 1987 and 2001. How­ever, it should be noted that for the most part The Tramps were a sober gang that sup­ported each other.

“We met be­cause we all had a prob­lem. We met be­cause we were all seek­ing re­cov­ery,” says Brian in the film.

It’s that sober sit­u­a­tion that also in­spired Jamie to turn the cam­era on the group.

“Be­yond the celebri­ties or rock stars talk­ing about them, what re­ally blew me away were the fans were just like, ‘They changed my life,’ or, ‘They saved my life,’ ” said Coak­ley.

Coak­ley added that dur­ing film­ing of the movie that at least 100 peo­ple told her they got sober and re­mained sober due to the band.

“I thought, ‘Who cares if they got fa­mous or not?’ How many peo­ple can say they made art that af­fected peo­ple that deeply on that level. That you lit­er­ally gave peo­ple their lives back with your art,” said Coak­ley. “That’s amaz­ing. How cool is that?”

It’s re­ally cool when you con­sider the film will be part of a fes­ti­val that in turn helps young peo­ple make art, art that some day may also help peo­ple. The LIFF has to date raised close to $20,000 for film pro­grams in the Lan­g­ley sec­ondary-school sys­tem. This year they’re ex­pect­ing to add an­other 10 grand to the mix.

This year’s fes­ti­val lineup also in­cludes The TIFF and VIFF award-win­ning film, the drama Luk’Luk’l, from for­mer Lan­g­ley res­i­dent Wayne Wapeemukwa. The French film C’est la vie de­liv­ers the laughs. Round­ing out the fes­ti­val are the Hol­ly­wood movies Won­der and the Os­car-nom­i­nated and Golden Globe-win­ning Get Out. Won­der stars Lan­g­ley’s own 11-year-old Ja­cob Trem­blay, who’ll be on hand af­ter the film’s screen­ing on Feb. 18 todoaQ&A.

On Feb. 17, 18 short stu­dent films take cen­tre stage at the LIFF.

“They are al­ways very in­ter­est­ing. It shows what the next gen­er­a­tion is maybe go­ing to look like in film­mak­ing,” said Su­san Cairns of the Lan­g­ley School Dis­trict and the fes­ti­val’s pro­gram­mer. “They love it and they love hav­ing their films in the fes­ti­val. We make a big deal out of it.”

That big deal is the ad­ju­di­ca­tion and prizes, as well as a post-show­ing re­cep­tion.


The Cadil­lac Tramps are the sub­ject of a doc­u­men­tary about the hard-rock­ing and to­tally unique Cal­i­for­nia band.

Jamie Sims Coak­ley, wife of one of the band’s gui­tar play­ers, di­rected the new doc­u­men­tary about The Cadil­lac Tramps. The movie is part of the 2018 Lan­g­ley In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val.

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