This November will mark 10 years since the Tin Roof first opened its doors. It’s a music venue unlike any other in town. Probably because it’s so much more than just a music venue.
On any given night inside this neighborhood dive bar you could see live music, comedy, a celebrity look-alike contest, themed bingo, a chili cook-off or bar Olympics. “We are a unique venue in every way: the building, the artwork, the patrons, the staff. It's only fitting that the entertainment is as well,” says owner Erin Tyler.
That eclecticism will be on full display on Saturday, July 8 when the Comedy & Curls Tour rolls into the Tin Roof. It will be a night featuring stand-up comedy, a film screening, and — a rarity in today’s club culture — every patron heading home with a goody bag.
Atlanta-based Catherine Dee Holly and Fray Forde are the creative minds behind the Comedy & Curls Tour, in promotion of their new short film, "Good Hair." They are the co-writers, co-directors and co-stars of this little gem of a romantic-comedy.
A couple in real-life, Holly and Forde developed the plot for "Good Hair" based on a real-life incident. “That was our first fight,” says Forde. “I used all her conditioner and she got very livid. And then a couple weeks later I was like, ‘Yo, that’d be a really funny movie.’”
Yes, that’s actually the plot of the film. Khi (played by Forde) uses the last of his girlfriend Frankie’s (played by Holly) hair conditioner on the day she starts her new job, her dream job. And shenanigans ensue.
Forde and Holly began writing for the film last October. And they had to work fast, Holly says. “We gave ourselves a really strict deadline because all of our friends who work in the film industry have the week before Christmas off so we were like, ‘We’ve gotta make a movie the week before Christmas.’”
Working with a shoestring budget, they made it happen, of course with the help of many friends and colleagues, most notably their co-stars in the film, Dedrick Flynn and Sylvia Queener. Every week, the four of them would get together— Queener via Skype — and they would go over the script, workshop it, and Forde and Holly would come back next week with a new draft.
“Our process to filmmaking has kind of become, let the actors inform their own characters and inform the story,” says Forde. And Flynn and Queener did just that.
Since its debut in February, "Good Hair" already has been an official selection of six film festivals around the country and was just named a top 20 finalist at the world’s biggest comedy festival, Just For Laughs in Montreal. Voting begins July 7th and the winner gets a deal with the entertainment company Lionsgate. The prospect is exciting for Forde and Holly, especially considering they’ve already starting writing a feature-length film.
Forde and Holly arrived at filmmaking in very different ways, he with a background in standup comedy and she in theater. But their artistic visions were congruent. “Not only on a relationship, personal level did we just really relate to each other,” says Forde, “but on a filmmaking level we wanted to do the same thing from the get go. And we kind of lined up in our vision.”
Holly partially attributes her vision to an experience she had acting on “Workaholics” on Comedy Central. “It was the first time I was on a film set where everything wasn’t high pressure and angry and just miserable,” says Holly. “It was a bunch of dudes literally riffing on set and having fun. After that moment, I was like, ‘I really want to create things with people I love in a team that I can do that with.”
It appears she’s found her team in Atlanta. And of course, Forde is a big part of that.
Their roles on set perfectly complement each other: Holly working more with the actors and Forde with the cameras. “I think we couldn’t direct as well without each other,” says Forde, “because there are times when I would just rush through a scene because it looks pretty, and she’s like, ‘That performance isn’t right.’ But I’m the one who will say, ‘We need to push in. That doesn’t look right.’ So we balance out those sides of each other.”
As "Good Hair" makes its way through the festival circuit, Holly and Forde have developed the Comedy & Curls Tour to further promote the film. At the Tin Roof this Saturday, the tour continues.
The night will be hosted by Forde and feature four stand-up comedians, including local Jason Groce and the film’s co-star Dedrick Flynn. Then, following a short intermission, it will close with a screening of "Good Hair," which runs about 25 minutes. “It’s an ideal date night, but you can definitely come without a date,” says Holly. “It’s a very loose, very fun environment. We also have giveaways and everybody goes home with a goody bag. I think it’s a very unique show. Most people don’t combine those two aspects of live performance and video production.”
Home to the quirky
The Tin Roof knows all about unique shows, which is why this is such a perfect fit. “We aren't scared to try something new,” says Tyler. “If the night is a success, great! Let's do it again. If the event doesn't work, we shake it off or tweak it. We welcome creativity and I'm lucky that the staff, patrons, and entertainers are full of it.”
When the Tin Roof opened, Tyler hadn’t really considered making it a music venue. But they had the equipment and the space and the good fortune of opening right after two important local venues closed, Cumberland’s and The Map Room. “The booking e-mails started rolling in … and I think before we even realized it, we were a music venue,” says Tyler.
And over the years, the music has been as diverse as the events. “We branched out pretty quickly to all genres of music,” says Tyler. “If I thought they were talented, would bring a crowd, or a regular bar patron suggested the band, I would book them. I still operate that way.”
Tyler also loves to host charity events. Coming up on July 23 is the TV Theme Song Benefit where local musicians will be performing their favorite TV theme songs.
It’s this openness to diversity that has given the Tin Roof its own little niche in the Charleston community. It’s still a dive bar where you can come hang out and have a drink, but it’s also a place that caters to the artistic community, assuaging even the most unorthodox concepts. Says Tyler, “If you have an idea for an event that's quirky and you don't think there is a home for it, Tin Roof is that home.”