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Beware of Mr. Baker comes to UICA

A new rock documentary about Ginger Baker, the drummer who forever changed rock and roll, opens at the UICA Friday, Feb. 8.
An animated Mr. Baker in his heyday

An animated Mr. Baker in his heyday /Snag Films

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Showtimes for Beware of Mr. Baker

February 8 2013—February 14 2013

2/8 Friday – 3:00, 7:15 PM
2/9 Saturday – 7:15 PM
2/10 Sunday – 7:00 PM
2/11 Monday – Closed
2/12 Tuesday – 9:00 PM
2/13 Wednesday – 8:00 PM
2/14 Thursday – 9:15 PM

“Beware of Mr. Baker," Jay Bulger’s documentary about legendary rock drummer Ginger Baker opens, as one might expect, with shaky footage of Baker beating Bulger on the face with a cane. Baker then proceeds to rave at Bulger, insisting that Bulger refrain from interviewing anyone from Baker’s past for the film. The movie really takes off from there.

“Beware of Mr. Baker,” which opens at the UICA this Friday, follows Baker’s tumultuous journey as rock music’s premier drummer. Growing up in England in the 1940s, Baker’s initial exposure to music focused on big bands and jazz. The drums caught his attention, and using what he calls his God given gift of keeping time he quickly became one of the most unusual, skilled and influential drummers on the scene.

He soon met Phil Seamen, who was one of his original drumming idols. Seamen introduced him to an African style of drumming, from which point there was no turning back. Baker’s fascination and implementation of that drumming style stayed with him throughout his entire professional career, following him from project to project.

Seaman also introduced Baker to another fixation that would follow him for much of his professional life: heroine. Though Seaman insisted that Baker stay away from the stuff, the addiction apparently didn’t need much urging to take hold. Baker said heroine made him fearless. Bulger’s documentary takes us through each of Baker’s individual musical projects, from Cream with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, to Blind Faith to Ginger Baker’s Air Force, as well as solo projects and collaborations spanning three continents.

After marrying his first wife and having three kids Baker “decided to get straight.” It took him “another 19 years or so.” In 1970 he left the country to drive across the Sahara desert. This pilgrimage eventually landed him in Nigeria where he began collaborating with a local musician and activist named Fela Kuti. He hung around the African continent for six years, and his stint in Nigeria ended with him speeding out of Lagos in his Land Rover with a hail of gunfire at his back.

From here the film recounts his various revolving projects and wives, which took Baker from Italy to America to South Africa, where Baker was living with his fourth wife during the filming of the documentary.

The documentary as a whole transitions through Baker’s life at a lively pace and is littered with contributions from some of rock ‘n roll’s most renowned artists. Carlos Santana, The Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart, Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason and Johnny Rotten are among the dozens of musicians who burst out of the woodwork to sing Baker’s praises and claim his influence on their music.

The film is also broken up with stunning charcoal drawings and animation by David Bell and Joe Scarpulla. With such a compelling visual style, an undeniably all-star cast of contributors and interviews with Baker that consistently showcase his crotchety unpleasantness, “Beware of Mr. Baker” is nothing short of fascinating. It’s a superb documentary on arguably the most influential drummer in rock history.

“Beware of Mr. Baker” is set to open at the UICA Friday, Feb. 8 and will run through Thursday, Feb. 14.

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