My Life Is Great: The Stevie Stiletto Story: DVD/CD

May 04, 2010

The title is a bit of a misnomer. The DVD actually focuses more on the trials and tribulations of the band’s vocalist, Ray McKelvey than the actual band itself. Having stated that, perhaps a bit of background on Ray and the band are in order. Stevie Stiletto (And The Switchblades) were a “punk” band from Jacksonville, Florida that were active in some manner from the early 1980s to the 2000s. In hindsight, calling them a “punk” band musically may have been a stretch, but their DIY approach to their music, shows, and just about everything else was most definitely “punk.”

The DVD begins with interviews with Ray, his family, and childhood friends and quickly moves along to his musical endeavors. Nothing is very eventful until he and some acquaintances formed Stevie Stiletto And The Switchblades and began playing shows locally and regionally throughout the north Florida area and released several cassette-only EPs. As the band (and DVD) trudge along, they eventually release some vinyl, tour, replace members, and keep touring.

Then, the DVD returns to Ray’s story. Apparently, in the early days of his life (and the band), Ray was no stranger to drugs and alcohol. As the band toured and attempted to eke out a living as musicians, Ray’s intake increased and his behavior became more erratic. Mid-tour, he quits the band and heads back home to Jacksonville where, unfortunately, his taste for alcohol doesn’t diminish. He then forms a series of bands that ultimately became Stevie Stiletto (minus the Switchblades.) At this point, it’s revealed that Ray’s drinking had caused severe liver damage and he was given a terminal prognosis that he continues to defy to this day.

The DVD itself is a fair tribute to the man and the band, although it does tend to drag on; clocking in at about two hours. This could have been avoided with some tighter editing and greater diversity in the interviewees. The same people are interviewed repeatedly and it would have been nice to have some different perspectives offered. Likewise, the interviewees sometimes mention people and places that would not mean anything to you unless you knew Jacksonville. While I don’t think this DVD has much appeal outside of fans of the band, it’s a nice package that does give some perspective on a much-overlooked band and the then almost non-existent Jacksonville scene. As a bonus, you also get a CD retrospective of some of the band’s tunes that were in the documentary. Nicely done. –Garrett Barnwell (Geneva 13 Press, PO Box 13, Geneva, NY14456)