Anyone who frequented the Commodore Ballroom in the late 1970s knows of Doug and the Slugs. The so-called 'party band' made a name for themselves on the underground scene in Vancouver by hosting dances at various halls around town before breaking out with a few top 40 hits in the 80s.
Constantly skirting around the edges of blowing up but never quite making it, the group has achieved cult legend status among Canadians, Vancouverites especially in subsequent years and now, they are the subject of a feature documentary Doug and the Slugs and Me.
Filmmaker Teresa Alfeld grew up next door to frontman Doug Bennett in East Van in the 1990s and was best friends with his daughter during their school years. She was shocked to learn of Bennet's death in 2004 at age 52.
As an adult, Alfeld is re-connecting with the Bennet family, former Slugs, and famous fans—including Bob Geldof, Bif Naked, Steven Page, Ron Sexsmith, and Michael Williams—to track the band's journey to almost-fame.
The Slugs’ music videos and stage shows were wildly popular and their career trajectory was somewhat of a roller coaster with some suggesting that the odds were stacked against them. The documentary explores the behind-the-scenes drama and reveals, using the content found within Bennet's personal diaries, why things fell apart.
The documentary also gets personal for Alfeld as she starts to revisit her own memories of Bennet and his daughter and realizes that there was more going on next door than she could understand as a child and it gave her "a surprising sense of closure [she] never knew [she] needed."
"What was (in my mind) going to be a quick and dirty rock-doc soon blossomed into a four-year journey," says Alfeld in a director's note on the documentary's website. "What started as a simple profile of this unique band became very personal, very fast, and despite my reluctance, I had to stop fighting the fact that I needed to become a character and enter the story."
Following a special event screening at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema in Toronto, the documentary makes its broadcast premiere on October 9 on CBC Documentary Channel at 9 p.m.