Do you remember the 2000 film "Snow Falling on Cedars"? Neither do I. The film did receive considerable critical acclaim and even picked up an Academy Award nomination. Did you know it has ties to Grand Junction?

"Snow Falling on Cedars" stars Ethan Hawke, Max von Sydow, and James Cromwell. According to Wikipedia, Film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film 3 1/2 out of 4 stars and wrote "Snow Falling on Cedars is a rich, multilayered film about a high school romance and a murder trial a decade later" and that it "reveals itself with the complexity of a novel, holding its themes up to the light so that first one and then another aspect can be seen.

The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography. It also won the Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Cinematography (Robert Richardson). It was given the same recognition by the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards and the Florida Film Critics Circle Awards.

So, what's Snow Falling on Cedar's tie to Grand Junction? It has to do with this scene.

The music playing on the phonograph, "Southland Strut," was written and arranged by Grand Junction's very own Clark Gault. Clark is the bandleader for Western Colorado's 16-piece Big Band, the Swing City Express.

Gault was commissioned to compose the music. The filmmakers wanted music that sounded exactly like something Benny Goodman would have recorded. Gault, a 1940s music enthusiast, is well-schooled in the musical styling of the 1940s and early 50s. How did he come up with the name "Southland Strut"?

It's called Southland Strut, but for the movie they called it Benny's Boogie.
Southland is a name for Los Angeles and the ballroom (The Palladium) where he first had a huge crowd in Hollywood (Los Angeles)... so I named it like a tune that might have been written for a premier at that ballroom. - Clark Gault

Clark Gault and the Swing City Express performed the tune last Sunday night at the special 1940's tribute concert at Warehouse 2565. Gault and the Swing City Express are currently at work on a 1940s album, a followup to their recently released "Clark Gault's Swing City Express - Jazz for Contemplation."

If you get the chance, take a moment to watch the movie Snow Falling on Cedars. It's an enjoyable, visually stunning film. You'll catch the scene featuring this music at the 1:18:38 mark.