Thumpers by Jim Boston | Script Revolution


Seeking to break away from the mainstream, three teenage ragtime musicians in 1984 Sioux Falls, SD strive to establish their band's sound...and work to build an appreciative following.



Page Count: 



Age Rating:


It’s July 1, 1984...the Sunday before Independence Day.

And Sioux Falls, South Dakota homemaker BEVERLEY SCOTT wants to celebrate...specifically, the band her piano-playing daughter TOBEY leads: The Ragtime Ensemble of Sioux Falls, a highly-talented outfit that needs an audience.

So talkative Beverley pitches her oil-company-worker husband JOE BOB, a former country singer, the idea of throwing a party in the Scotts’ backyard to spotlight Tobey’s band. After all, the gigs will come for this 15-year-old natural “when people hear how good she is...and that’s all she needs.”

Two Sundays later, the party’s on...and when dogged-and-independent Tobey jams alongside confident drummer JODY BOOMSMA and banjo-playing worry wart LUCIANNA ANDREUCCI, the three girls draw raves from PARTYGOERS. But while the band doesn’t land any gigs off the outing, Tobey lands a teacher: JASON WILLIAMS, who gave up a promising career as a blues singer-pianist in Chicago to teach in Vermillion.

After hearing the ensemble play in the Andreuccis’ basement, friendly Jason becomes its chief mentor. He deduces that Tobey, Jody, and Lucianna want a loosely-scored, piano-yoked sound...and to get that rag-and-roll sound, the group needs to add a horn player and a bassist.

The bad news is: Peeling plaster from the kitchen forces the band to switch practice sessions from the Andreuccis’ basement to the Scotts’ garage...where the sound of music disturbs a picky next-door neighbor, plant pathologist WALTER MEIERHENRY.

To top it all off, the ragtimers’ open tryout in mid-August yields no newcomers. The band gains a nemesis, though, in music-store owner’s daughter K.D. SCHUERHOLZ...who tries to bribe her way into the ensemble after failing to become its bass player.

When the 1984-85 school year kicks in, bashful motormouth CASSY COUGHLIN-MUJICA approaches fellow Washington High School student Tobey about becoming the ragtime band’s trumpeter.

Cassy’s audition blows the trio away...but almost immediately, Tobey learns the newest bandmember, for all her musical genius, seems to have something to hide.

It’s like playing alongside a Hannah Montana prototype.

A month later, the Ragtime Ensemble of Sioux Falls lands the missing piece of the puzzle when tough-talking BETSEY HEMMINGSEN catches up to Tobey as the latter walks home from school. And just like that, Betsey more than shows she’s got what it takes to be the band’s bass player.

What’s more, this street-smart teen comes up with the solution that lets Walter do his thing and the ragtimers theirs: She and Beverley put mattresses on the walls of the Scotts’ garage.

The band’s first rehearsal in a soundproofed garage sees Betsey’s bass, inherited from her imprisoned brother ELLIS and taped together like Eddie Van Halen’s guitar, come apart. The quintet itself almost comes apart...but Cassy, whose theater-manager uncle got her hooked on movie treasures, rescues the group by selling her “Bambi” memorabilia and using the dough to buy Betsey a new bass.

In celebration, the Ragtime Ensemble of Sioux Falls renames itself Thumpers...after a character in “Bambi” and after one of ragtime’s prior names, “piano thumping.”

With a new name and an established sound, Tobey’s band sets out to find gigs...but the first one as Thumpers, held at Jolly Ike’s Pizza and Ice Cream Garden, goes kaput when the five girls find the fuses have been removed from the band’s amps.

Betsey coaxes a confession out of K.D. by making the spoiled, talentless troublemaker play the former’s bass...and sing...while Betsey records it all. And by forcing K.D. to hear herself on tape...loud...until K.D. can find a way to make it up to the ragtimers.

Solution: K.D. throws her own party.

Turns out she appreciates Thumpers’ music...even if HER TEENAGE GUESTS don’t. The shindig isn’t a total loss: Tobey and Co. gain a K.D. herself.

The gigs multiply for Thumpers...starting with a New Year’s Eve party at Schuerholz’s Music Center and culminating with a February 1985 concert at the South Dakota State Penitentiary, where the five ragtimers do “Happy Birthday to You” for Betsey’s first bass teacher, Ellis.

Ellis isn’t the only one in doubletakes at the jail: Cassy’s cover is blown when she sees her doctor dad DENNIS, who handles another inmate’s appendicitis.

With classical prodigy Cassy apparently grounded for sneaking off to play ragtime, Tobey tries to work with Dennis and with Cassy’s computer-programer mom WESLEY...whose own dad was a famous Dixieland trumpeter who “spent half his life on the road, the other half in bars.”

Tobey, Jody, Lucianna, and Betsey resign themselves to work as a quartet...but Cassy returns to the act after she and Wesley agree to some concessions, like an extra hour on the classics.

And the concessions suit Cassy’s bandmates just fine.

Submitted: June 21, 2021
Last Updated: May 3, 2022

Want to read this script? You must join the revolution first. Don't worry, it's free, easy, everyone's welcome, and you can start reading right away.

Jim Boston's picture

The Writer: Jim Boston

I first got interested in screenwriting as a college student in 1979 (Iowa State University); an additional impetus was the paperback version of the "American Graffiti" screenplay. From 1980 to 1994, I pursued screenwriting with a vengeance...but other things happened in my life. Since 2016, I've been back chasing the dream...and it's only because I inherited a Power Mac from one of the codirectors (Nick Holle) of a documentary I was in: "The Entertainers," about the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest and Festival. (Nick received the computer from the husband-and-wife couple who helped produce the film, Brent and Jackie Watkins.) The Power Mac has a copy of Final Draft 6... Go to bio

More Scripts From Jim

Pixie Dust
Two modern-day University of Minnesota-Twin Cities students start their own sorority in order to reach out to other female UMN-Twin Cities students tired of being marginalized.
Feature Comedy For sale 120pp
5 readers love this script
Got Any More Bullets, Sister?
Two siblings struggling as vendors in 1930 Cleveland seek to better their lives...but while one woman decides to enter music, her sister chooses a life of crime.
Feature Action, Comedy, Crime For sale 95pp
4 readers love this script
Tin Mine
Looking to get their musical careers out of a rut in 1939 New York City, a song plugger and a radio organist become composers.
Feature Comedy, Music For sale 104pp
3 readers love this script
Kitten on the Keys
In 1876, the death of her husband on a train trip out West forces a college-educated woman to strike out on her own at the next stop: Dodge City, KS.
Feature Comedy, Western For sale 106pp
2 readers love this script
Fine Tooth Comb
Inspired by a videotape, a teenager in 1994 Davenport, IA forms her own band with the hopes of playing at the local Dixieland jamboree, the Bix Beiderbecke Jazz Festival.
Feature Comedy, Family, Music For sale 112pp
2 readers love this script
Jingle Belles
Seeking to usher in the new breed of rock-and-roll hitmakers, a songwriter-manager-record producer and a record-store clerk unite to start their own music-publishing company in 1959 New York City.
Feature Comedy, Music For sale 114pp
1 reader loves this script
Gayle Strawberry and Her Soda Pop Music Makers
It's the summer of 1942, and a Los Angeles teenager starts her own swing band in the hopes of entering it in the first annual National Swing Contest.
Feature Comedy, Drama, Family, Music For sale 130pp
1 reader loves this script
The Nutcrackers
Pondering life after ballet and ex-dancer Vanessa Carlton's Grammy-nominated success, two star ballerinas in present-day Kansas City, MO seek to become blues musicians at a famous local bar and grill.
Feature Comedy, Music For sale 128pp
1 reader loves this script
Bleeding Gums
A math teacher at an all-girls' high school in present-day Omaha, NE seeks to fill a void in her school's activities by forming its first jazz band.
Feature Comedy, Music For sale 128pp
1 reader loves this script
Really Old School
Inspired by a piece of 1910s sheet music, a modern-day Omaha, NE teenager wants to honor and emulate the tune's author: Her newly-deceased great-grandmother, a ragtime-era composer-musician-bandleader-arranger.
Feature Comedy, Family, Music For sale 130pp
Yes, Indeed!
Tired of being out of showbiz, two child TV stars of the 1970s ride the late-1980s swing revival by forming their own big band in hopes of playing a respected Los Angeles jazz club.
Feature Comedy, Music For sale 119pp
Pipe Up!
An Arizona Cardinals cheerleader, a frustrated musician whose granddad was a famous local organist, seeks to save a landmark restaurant in contemporary Mesa, AZ from becoming the area's new Department of Homeland Security headquarters.
Feature Comedy, Sport For sale 127pp
Small Flyers
In 1946 Albuquerque, two preteen girls decide to take up flying...surprising their father, a World War 2 Army Air Corps pilot struggling to readjust to civilian life, where female aviators still aren't respected.
Feature Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Family For sale 122pp
Rivertown Rock!
It's Sunday, February 9, 1964...when the Beatles' appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" inspires a Sioux City, IA teenager to start her own rock group and show that girls can play the music, too.
Feature Comedy, Family, Music For sale 124pp
Shorthose and Flaxbeard
An inept comic magician playing Seattle in 1917 seeks to turn her career around by landing herself a partner...a beloved theater organist-piano teacher who's fascinated with vaudeville.
Feature Comedy For sale 117pp
Golden Oldies
Thanks to a phone call from a fellow former Iowa State University student, a librarian in modern-day Ames, IA looks to put her old rock band back together...and conquer a legendary local venue.
Feature Comedy, Drama, Music For sale 123pp
Seeking coveted hands-on instructional experience, and to convert prostitutes, a modern-day music-education student at California State University, Long Beach teaches melodies to the hookers working at a Los Angeles massage parlor.
Feature Comedy, Music For sale 119pp
Cynthia Harmon
A talented, inventive collegian in search of a vaudeville career in 1924 Detroit must square off against her adopting aunt...a jealous, cutthroat theatrical agent grooming her own three showbiz-minded daughters.
Feature Comedy, Family For sale 119pp