On Sunday, Jan. 23, surrounded by a block of empty bars, Pengilly's Saloon pulsated with a feverish energy. A steady stream of folk and blues poured past the "filming in progress" sign taped to the front door and the sound of excited whoops and claps filled the silent streets.
"There are more people in this bar than anywhere else on Sixth and Main," noted patron Ryan Hill.
Shooting the pilot episode for a new TV series titled John Doe, American Music, local company Wide Eye Productions packed the small bar with camera equipment, stage lights and wall-to-wall music fans. The show's premise is simple but genius: for each episode, the host--John Doe of the seminal Los Angeles punk band X--will travel to a new town, where he'll first interview and then rock out with a handful of local bands. Those musicians included local luminaries like Curtis Stigers, Bill Coffey, Jeremiah James, A.K.A. Belle (formerly Belle of Les Bois), Ned Evett, Hillfolk Noir and Joshua Tree.
"Not only do we see these musicians in their lives, interacting with John, but then we also get to see them play," explained Tom Hadzor, director of photography at Wide Eye.
There was a familial air to the evening as each act swapped in guest musicians from other bands on the bill. While many attendees were lured into Pengilly's by the line-up or the lime light, an equal number were there to catch a glimpse of the show's legendary host. "It was a little nerve-racking," said musician Catherine Merrick of A.K.A. Belle, describing performing in front of Doe. As it turns out, Merrick and Curtis Stigers were in a band that played X cover songs years ago. Though both musicians have gone on to achieve their own successes, Stigers' face belied an undeniable giddiness when Doe joined him on stage for a cover of Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make it Through the Night."
And that giddiness also spread into the crowd. While audience members were excited to participate in what could be a new hit TV show, they were also amped to see the Boise music scene finally get the attention it deserves.
"We have so much talent here and people don't really know that," said Merrick. "I really hope it helps put Boise on the map."