For more than 30 years, Western pop culture has fused music with visuals. From the debut of MTV to today's means of scoring a hit via YouTube, music and video are -- as the logo for the annual Chicago International Music & Movies festival says -- "inseparable."
Few events celebrate this fact of life more adeptly than Chicago's CIMMfest, which runs its fifth incarnation April 18-21 at venues throughout the city.
A heady mix of film screenings, concerts, panel discussions and more, CIMMfest has evolved into an entertaining but also intellectually rewarding event.
And if you're a Rolling Stones fan, this is really your year.
Part of the fifth CIMMfest includes CIMMpathy for the Stones, a film retrospective riding the bandwagon of the classic rock band's 50th anniversary hoopla. The 10 Stones-related screenings include "The Rolling Stones Charlie Is My Darling: Ireland 1965," the band's first professionally filmed concert; "I Got the Blues in Austin," featuring Mick Jagger's brother Chris on a Stones expedition with Chicago blues pianist Pinetop Perkins; the Chicago premiere of the documentary "Rolling Like a Stone," a 1965 home movie of the Stones at an after-party in Sweden; and, if you're not sick of seeing this during WTTW's pledge drives, "Muddy Waters & the Rolling Stones at the Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago '81."
Call it a good warm-up for the recently announced Stones shows this summer at Soldier Field.
The CIMMfest schedule -- see it all at cimmfest.org -- includes more than 100 films (including 11 world premieres) from 20 countries, plus nearly a couple dozen concerts and music events. Here are some highlights:
-- Musician, composer, arranger and Beach Boys spirit guide Van Dyke Parks is honored on opening night with Parks chatting, performing and showing some short documentaries about himself directed by his son, Richard (a CIMMfest award winner last year) (7 p.m. April 18 at Constellation, 3111 N. Western, $20-$25).
-- CIMMfest will present its lifetime achievement award to Chicago-born cinema legend Melvin Van Peebles (9:30 p.m. April 20 at Constellation, 3111 N. Western, $20-$25). There's plenty to honor: his landmark '60s films, his music, his plays, his novels. He's the ultimate mash-up artist. A few of Van Peebles' films will be screened during the festival, including "Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song" (6 p.m. April 20 at Logan Theater 3, 2646 N Milwaukee, $10). Also, don't miss "How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company and Enjoy It," a bad-ass documentary about Van Peebles by Chicago director Joe Angio (6 p.m. April 19 at Logan Theater 3, 2646 N Milwaukee, $10).
-- If you didn't get enough exclamation-pointed, industrial-music chat during 2011's Wax Trax! Retrospectacle, CIMMest's CIMMcon (the panels 'n' presentations part of the programming) includes "Wax Trax!: The Iconic Punk and Industrial Label's Soiree Musicale!" featuring memories and music from Julia Nash, daughter of Wax Trax! Records co-founder Jim Nash, musician Chris Connelly, Wax Trax! vets Ken Waagner and Sean Joyce, and Chicago Trax's Reid Hyams (2 p.m. April 21 at the Logan Theatre, 2646 N Milwaukee, free).
-- Following a panel on film composing, there's a positively funkadelic lineup featuring the Funky Meters (Art Neville & Co.) from New Orleans, San Diego's '70s-soul masters the Greyboy Allstars, plus Chicago's own JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound (8 p.m. April 19 at the Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee, $25).
-- Chicago DJ-producer Kid Color (Kyle Woods) can get pretty funky his own self, but his dance trax also stretch beyond the '70s into the more blippy, house-oriented '80s. Catch him this week for free! (9:30 p.m. April 19 at the Whistler, 2421 N. Milwaukee, free).
-- Power pop fans should indulge in "Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me," a documentary about the short-lived but deeply influential '70s band. The arc of their narrative, from formation to failure to renaissance, is covered. An unfinished reel of this was shown last year at SXSW, and what I saw was great (10 p.m. April 19 at Logan Theater 4, 2646 N Milwaukee, $10).
-- "Musicwood" is an interesting documentary about the sustainability of guitar-making. That wood that makes your music sound so earthy -- chopping it down to manufacture your guitar impacts the environment, native tribes and big logging business, all of which is explored by several instrument makers and musicians in this doc (6 p.m. April 20 at Logan Square Studio, 2341 N. Milwaukee, $10).
Of note: the new documentary "Born in Chicago," about the generation of affluent white kids (Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield, etc.) mentoring with the city's blues greats in the '60s, has disappeared from the CIMMfest schedule. No great loss.