NYC’s Sputnik plays James Dean event
Films, fine wine, movie stars and race cars—Are we in Hollywood? Cannes? Nope. Geyserville, where enthusiasts of James Dean are putting a new spin on celebrating the onscreen icon—literally.
Fans of the original rebel without a cause, are invited to celebrate the cinematic legacy of James Dean (and his love of Porsches) at the 1st Annual Drive to Eden Vintage Car Show at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville this Saturday.
Present at the event will be champion racer and Porsche Hall of Fame alum Lew Bracker, a friend of Dean’s and author of Jimmy & Me: A Personal Memoir Of A Great Friendship. Likewise, Sputnik the New York City-based band will perform from their recently released concept album inspired by the actor’s legacy.
“I would say he was kind of a creative muse to me when I was younger,” says Sputnik vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Genie Morrow. She first became aware of Dean thanks to a picture of the actor that roused her curiosity as a teen. She thought he looked cool and her mother affirmed that observation.
“I liked that he did his own thing and didn’t really follow the trends of the time, and he kind of forged his own way in Hollywood,” she says. “And I always just thought he was really innovative.”
Having become acquainted with Dean’s pal Bracker and pouring through his book, “…It sort of opened this whole portal back to James Dean again. And it’s just kind of a blur of creativity from there. I would say he’s very much, he’s influenced me a lot creatively.”
Morrow channeled the lauded method actor’s innovative approach while translating her inspiration into music. After meeting some of Dean’s friends and relatives at different events throughout the country.
“That was kind of floating around in my consciousness. And because we had more time, because we were shut in [due to the pandemic], I started just getting songs. Songs were coming through about Jimmy, about Jimmy and Lew racing cars, about Jimmy going back to his hometown in Fairmount, Indiana, and it was almost like a lot of dreams coming through music,” she recalls.
Working with her collaborators in Sputnik—Nigel Rawles (drums), Mic Rains (guitar), Pemberton Roach (bass), and Joe Drew (trumpet/keyboards)—the album began to coalesce. Word got out about the project and soon the band was invited to perform at an annual James Dean memorial in Fairmount.
“So I ended up singing in this church that James Dean went to on his memorial last September, and his cousin was in the front row,” Morrow recalls.
Since then, Sputnik has honed their James Dean-themed material at a variety of events, though Drive to Eden promises to be extra special as it kicks off a classic car cruise to Mendocino where portions of Dean’s star turn in East of Eden was shot. Music lovers will be happy to know that Sputnik will return to Dean’s orbit there and other venues to come.
The 1st Annual Drive To Eden Vintage Car Show begins at 10 am, Saturday, May 20 at Francis Ford Coppola Winery, 300 Via Archimedes, Geyserville.