Club Foot Orchestra

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Club Foot Orchestra
Founded 1983
Location San Francisco, California

The Club Foot Orchestra is a music ensemble founded in 1983 by Richard Marriott. After a brief career playing dramatic, complex music in San Francisco clubs, they became known for their equally dramatic and complex scores for classic silent movies. The ensemble got their name from a performance art nightclub called the "Club Foot" which flourished in the Bayview district of San Francisco.[1] Marriott, who lived upstairs, formed a house band that came to be called the "Club Foot Orchestra".[2] Two albums released on Ralph Records document this period: Wild Beasts and Kidnapped.[3] The performers on these recordings included Snakefinger, Beth Custer, Eric Drew Feldman, Dave Barrett, Dick Deluxe Egner, Josh Ende, Arny Young, Julian Smedley, Dave Kopplin, and Opter Flame.

Marriott explained how they started writing for movies:

I became interested in doing something visually that further expressed the ideas behind the music; something that would help put the music in context. I considered projecting slides of experimental art on a screen behind us. Then a friend suggested, after catching our show: "The music is so cinematic, why don't you take outtakes of 1950s sitcoms and score them." I put it under my hat.

Later that night I saw a Lily Tomlin skit on Saturday Night Live. She was reading the Dow Jones averages of various art trends. She reported, "Pop art up 10... Op art up 20... Expressionism down 30." I turned the channel. And there was The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

The distorted sets and dreamlike atmosphere in the film were the qualities that I always envisioned accompanying our music. The subversive plot was drenched in the unconscious. I was obsessed to write for that film.[4]

The score was premiered at the 1987 Mill Valley Film Festival. After touring with Caligari, Marriott wrote a score for the 1922 Murnau horror classic Nosferatu. This proved equally successful with audiences and lead to an appearance at New Music America 1989 in New York. Portions of the "Nosferatu" score were contributed by Gino Robair, introducing a period of collaborative composition. New scores for the films Metropolis, Sherlock Jr., Pandora's Box and The Hands of Orlac were presented at art houses across America[5] and also at venues such as Lincoln Center and the Smithsonian Institution. In between these projects, they also scored and recorded 39 episodes of The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat a Saturday morning cartoon show on CBS. Some of the conductors, performers and composers of this period of the orchestra included Steed Cowart, Deirdre McClure, Sheldon Brown, Miles Boisen, Bob Lipton, Nik Phelps, Doug Morton, Kenny Wollesen, Elliot Kavee, Catherine Clune, Kaila Flexer, Jason Marsh, Matt Brubeck, Steve Kirk, and especially trumpet player Chris Grady. They have also scored music for other artists, such as choreographer Joe Goode's Maverick Strain performance installation.[6]

In 1999 a smaller version of the orchestra performed Legong: Dance of the Virgins with Gamelan Sekar Jaya on a score cowritten by Marriott and Made Subandi. Most recently the orchestra has performed at the World Financial Center and the Morgan Library, introducing new scores for Battleship Potemkin and Phantom of the Opera. They continue to perform live accompaniment to the silent movies they have scored.[7]


  • Metropolis (live recording), 1991, Heyday Records, San Francisco
  • Kidnapped, Wild Beasts & More, reissue 1995 (compilation CD), Rastascan
  • Sherlock Jr. & Felix 1995, Rastascan
  • Plays Nino Rota: Selections From la Dolce Vita, Amarcord, Nights of Cabiria, 8½, Rastascan
  • Nosferatu Live at the World Financial Center January 25, 2001
  • Caligari
  • Legong: Dance of the Virgins


  1. ^ "Jan-2013 Beth Custer interview on Outsight Radio Hours". Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  2. ^ "MetroActive Music | Club Foot Orchestra". Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  3. ^ "Rastascan Records | BRD 013". 2008-06-29. Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  4. ^ "Club Foot Orchestra". Club Foot Orchestra. Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  5. ^ Castro Theatre. ""Nosferatu": Classic Silent Film with Live Accompaniment by the Club Foot Orchestra". Goldstar. Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  6. ^ "CWF - Joe Goode". 2003-02-09. Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  7. ^ "Jan-2013 Beth Custer interview on Outsight Radio Hours". Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
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