The 1987 documentary “Take Me Away,” which chronicled the life of the beloved Boston band Scruffy The Cat has been released on YouTube.
Shot in the Spring of 1987 by Harvard students Hugh Taylor, Eric Pulier, Sarah Durham, John Lindauer, William Chettle, Glenn MacDonald, Damien Bagdan, and Mary Berle, the film was part of a filmmaking class project. Bringing to mind a more ragged version of Athens/Inside Out, the film, which Taylor describes as, “…a cinema verite style documentary” offers a rare and unvarnished glimpse of the quotidian life of Scruffy’s members trying to juggle jobs they don’t love with being a band that they did.
The band members (Charlie Chesterman, Stephen Fredette, Stona Fitch, Mac Stanfield, and Randall Gibson), are philosophical about their chances about making it and realistic about the odds of not making it at all. At one point, Stephen Fredette addresses the prospect of selling-out: “I don’t think anyone would ever ask me to.”
Meanwhile, Mac Stanfield muses about heading back to college, declaring, “as soon as the band fizzles out…it’s got to at some point…it can’t go on forever.” He then adds: “We’re not the Rolling Stones.”
Scruffy The Cat had an undeniable synergy that’s captured in an unassuming and deeply appealing way: the music mattered and the friendships mattered.
Sadly, Scruffy the Cat never broke through in any seismic way, but they should have. A wicked blast of pop charm, roots rock and cowpunk bliss, they had fistfuls of great songs and were one of the best live bands on the planet. How they never became a household name is one of the great mysteries and cruelties of the music industry.
But maybe that didn’t matter. Maybe they were just a great band that some people knew about and some people are still finding out about today.
Midway through the film with a cigarette in one hand, Chesterman shyly confesses: “I’m happy to be like a janitor or something and play music at this point…”