'Spinal Tap' Players Folk Around With New Comedy

Actors who portrayed the heavy metal icons to transform into folk musicians for upcoming film.

With the stream of hilarious credits between them, no one would contest that Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer and Michael McKean are three funny folks. And soon they'll have the opportunity to show even those unfamiliar with their 1984 comedy classic, "This Is Spinal Tap," just how folkin' funny they really are.

The trio, along with actor/comedian Eugene Levy ("American Pie," "Best in Show"), are working on a new movie, according to Shearer's manager, that trades Tap's heavy duty rock and roll creations for something a little softer but no less weighted in tuneful affectation: folk music.

Guest and Levy, who last teamed for the dog-show mockumentary "Best in Show," are writing the screenplay, which focuses on three folk musicians who reunite at a Carnegie Hall performance to honor the passing of a legendary folk manager. The quartet is also working on new music for the as-yet-untitled film, which has yet to be scheduled for release.

A similar reformation occurred at the famed New York venue last year — except the manager-dying part — when satirical living folk legends the Folksmen (who scored a fringe semi-hit with "Old Joe's Place" in 1962), opened for the titanic Tap (see "Spinal Tap Turn Carnegie Hall Into A Hell Hole").

Prior to the concert, which took place June 4, Folksmen bassist Mark Shubb, who with guitarists Alan Barrows and Jerry Palter bear an uncanny resemblance to Shearer, Guest and McKean (only much older and more musically steeped in tradition), offered his optimistic views on a renewed interest in the timeless folk genre.

"Folk revival? You know I hate those words," he bemoaned. "They burn my ears because we've heard them so often. Folk music never goes away. It's always here, so you can't revive something that's always here. Now the question is will it have more commercial potential? And that's up to the lords of the industry, as far as I'm concerned, because the people are ready for it. A good song and a good heart ... By golly, you tell me that that doesn't find a home in the hearts of the people."