Graham Parker and the Rumour, from the Birchmere to the big screen’s “This Is 40”


View Photo Gallery: Oscar hopefuls, fan favorites and period pieces fill theaters as the year comes to a close. Critic Stephanie Merry shares the buzz on some of the films to know this season.

Graham Parker and the Rumour. (Kevin Mazur)

Rudd you’ve no doubt heard of; Parker, perhaps not, unless you’re a fan of the mid-chart ’70s English rock band Graham Parker and the Rumour, who perform a sold-out show at the Birchmere on Tuesday.

Parker parted ways from the Rumour after 1980’s “The Up Escalator,” which peaked at No. 11 on the U.K. charts. But the songwriter recorded more than a dozen solo albums over the next three decades, including an album of “theme songs for nonexistent TV shows” called “Imaginary Television” in 2010, a quirky project he announced on his blog, “The Thoughts of Chairman Parker.” He closed the post with the words “Judd Apatow, call me.” Then, as Geoffrey Himes wrote in the Nov. 23 Weekend section, a funny thing happened: Apatow actually called.

“He wanted to know if I could act,” Parker says by phone from his home in New York’s Hudson Valley. “I said, ‘That’s a terrible idea. Pop singers should never be actors, because they’re all terrible. But if anyone could do it, it would be me.’ I don’t know why I said that, but I was selling myself like a whore because I really wanted to do it. I could tell he still wasn’t sure, so I added, ‘And oh, by the way, I just re-formed the Rumour.’ That sealed it.”

Parker and the Rumour aren’t reuniting just to be in Apatow’s film. They’ve released an album, “Three Chords Good,” that’s nothing short of polemical, addressing the state of the world that has changed significantly since 1980.

In “This Is 40,” Rudd’s character runs an independent record label that reassembles the band. Parker told Himes: “The first thing I saw on the set was John Lithgow and Albert Brooks doing a scene with Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd, and my first thought was, ‘I should turn around and walk away, because these guys are experts.’”

Alex Baldinger is editor of the Going Out Guide blog, which covers food, drink, arts, music, events and other curiosities in the D.C. area. He is forever in search of a great sandwich.

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