Band of Strangers

Release Date: November 15, 2023
Run Time: 10 Min, 48 Seconds
Format: 16:9 at 1080p
Director: Sean Ongley
Synopsis: A weekly improvisational music night in Philadelphia connects a diverse scene of musicians and inspires them to grow.

Deep in the northwest of Philadelphia, there is an old city neighborhood called Manayunk. What looks like an unassuming dive just off Main Street, couched under an elevated rail line, is actually a full-fledged entertainment venue, and every Wednesday night, local musicians congress there to improvise.

On April 12, 2023, more than two dozen different players came together, and Thru Media was there to capture the night. Word got out that we were shooting, so people came to crush. These performances form the backbeat for Band of Strangers.

Thirteen different people offer their perspective about what improvised music is, and what the jam is all about. These interviews are placed spaciously to make room for the music, and they connect a conversation between them, although nobody was aware of what the others were saying, there was a call and response that naturally came about in the editing process.

This documentary is less about the history and the narrative behind the night than it is an exhortation on the magic of improvisation, and the importance of open spaces.



Zak Achenbach, drums
Elby Basolis, bass, drums
Zachariah Henry Golden Bigelow, guitar
Ethan Cain, guitar, keyboard
Cheeseman, bass
Ryan Daugherty, drums
Ryan Doe, guitar
Tre Diggs, bass, percussion
Tom Halbiger, vocals
Crazy Horse, guitar
Connor Hunt, keyboard, guitar
Caleb Kaslik, bass
Joe LaPree, guitar
James Mellett, guitar, keys
Joseph Merril, guitar
Jewon Norman, vocals
Sean Ongley, drums
Tia Petra, vocals
Jody Salani, keyboard
Michael Straus, bass
Rob Tait, drums
Wolf Taylor, drums
Brian Ulrich, guitar
Lionell West, drums, bass
Chet Williams, saxophone


Zachariah Henry Golden Bigelow, jammer
Ethan Cain, host and jammer
Ryan Daugherty, host and jammer
Pat Durkin, former host, jammer
James Michael Mallette, jammer
Avery Mason, audience
Diana Meyers, jammer
Dylan Novak, jammer
Sean Ongley, jammer
Connor Patrick, jammer
Meghan Porrini, audience
Pete Wetzel, jammer
Chet Williams, jammer


Ethan Cain guitar technician
Ryan Daugherty drum technician
Giselle Hudson camera operator
Derek Jolley audio engineer, recordist
Sean Ongley videographer, editor
Jody Salani audio engineer


Jam 1: drums Lionell, bass Caleb, keyboard Connor H., guitar Joe M., guitar James, vocals Tia, percussion Elby

Jam 2: drums Ryan, bass Cheeseman, keyboard Cody, guitar Zachariah, guitar Ethan, saxophone Chet

Jam 3: drums Wolf Taylor, bass Lionell West, guitar Zach, guitar Crazy Horse

Jam 4: drums Rob, bass Michael, keyboard James, guitar Ryan Doe, guitar Crazy Horse, percussion Tre, vocals Jewon

Jam 5: drums Sean, bass Elby, keyboard Ethan, guitar Joe M., guitar Crazy Horse, saxophone Chet

Jam 6: drums Zak, bass Tre, guitar Joe L.,guitar Connor H., vocals Tom

Jam 7: drums Elby, bass Caleb, keyboard Jody, guitar Ethan, guitar Joe M., saxophone Chet

All performances were recorded on April 12, 2023. Interviews and all other video recorded between March and August.

Special thanks to Alec and the cooperation of The Grape Room staff, and to everyone who helped pull this together. You know who you are.

All Rights Reserved, Thru Media 2023