A hip shaking stroll down the backroads of American music with roots music icon Chris Strachwitz, founder of Arhoolie Records.
No Mouse Music!
The Legacy of Arhoolie Records (working title)
If you love Zydeco, Tex-Mex, Klezmer, Country Blues, Cajun, Bluegrass – well, just about any type of American roots music – you owe a debt to Chris Strachwitz, founder of Arhoolie Records.
Mr. Chris is a detective of sounds, an archaeologist of the deep American music, music with roots that strike straight into the country’s heartland, music that’s the antithesis of the corporate “mouse music” that dominates the mass-American ear. No Mouse Music! is a feature length documentary that is an intimate look at Mr. Chris and the musical world he lives in.
Strachwitz is the guiding force behind the legendary Arhoolie Records, producing albums that the Rolling Stones, and countless others, played the grooves right off of. Since 1960, Strachwitz has been recording the authentic pulses of the great American music. His label offers an unparalleled catelogue of blues, Cajun Hillbilly, Tex-Mex, New Orleans jazz and gospel. With tape-recorder in hand, Strachwitz recorded in fields and studios, roadhouses and churches, kitchens and back porches throughout America. Then he let it loose into the living rooms of middle America. This music enriched our lives, created new communities of musicians, and changed popular music forever. What did this German immigrant hear that most of America missed?
In No Mouse Music!, we go along with Strachwitz for a hip-shaking stroll from New Orleans to Texas, Cajun country to Appalachia and right into the very DNA of rock’n’roll. We come face to face with the creators of indigenous music, from the great Clifton Chenier to fiddler Michael Doucet, from Flaco Jiménez to the young Bluegrass group No Speed Limit, playing songs that are endemic to their place and circumstance, to dialect and class, to climate and landscape. This film is a cultural history with a soundtrack that bites and kicks and screams.
Even after 50 years, Arhoolie’s records remain alive, unruly and still so sharp that some songs can cut you right down to the soul. Strachwitz is over 80 and wants this film finished. We hope you will be a part of our project and help us bring "No Mouse Music!" to the public by the end of 2012.
How You Can Help
While it has taken several years and backing from many sources, shooting is complete and we are almost to a rough cut. We're coming to the Kickstarter community to raise money for 10 weeks of editing, which will take us from a rough cut to a fine cut. It's an exciting time to be a part of this project. Your contribution will make you privy to updates not available to the public. We'll be releasing clips and seeking your opinions on what works and what doesn't. You'll even be able to help us choose the final title for the film (No Mouse Music! is only temporary).
Other ways to help are to share the link with your friends, family, and every mailing list you are on. If you know someone who you think would be especially interested, please introduce the project to them. We will be happy to give you additional information to help you. Questions? Please write us at : firstname.lastname@example.org. And we'd love it if you would "friend" us on Facebook.
Prefer to write a check or to get a tax-deduction? Our non-profit sponsor, the San Francisco Film Society will be happy to help. Just make a check out to SFFS with the notation: "for No Mouse Music!" and mail it to us at PO Box 520383 Salt Lake City, UT 84152. We will make sure you get a tax donation letter for anything over $100. It's also possible to donate on their web site at: www.sffs.org/donate/donate-now.aspx?pid=90
More on Who's in the Film
No Mouse Music! is an insider's view of the people who make the music. We'll meet musicians like Stevie Barr, a young banjo player from the group No Speed Limit in Galax Virginia, and visit National Heritage Fellowship honoree Santiago Jiménez, Jr. in his home. We'll march through the streets of New Orleans, second-lining behind Kermit Ruffins and the Treme Brass Band. We'll see old footage of Flaco Jiménez teaching a young Ry Cooder how to play the accordion and visit performers long gone via never-before seen footage from Mr. Chris' archives. There will be people and music in this film that even the most dedicated Rootsy will not know. People like the amazing Miss Lollipop of the Treme in neighborhood in New Orleans (shown above singing with Michael Doucet).
Then there are great stories from people like Ry Cooder, Bonnie Raitt, Michael Doucet, Marc Savoy, Taj Mahal and Linda Ronstadt, among others.
Other featured musicians include: CJ Chenier, son of the King of Zydeco; intimate footage of Richard Thompson jamming with the Savoy Family; Laurie Lewis; the Sam Brothers zydeco band; Suzy and Eric Thompson; Del McCoury, and many more!
What the heck is "mouse music"?
It's been said, that "mouse music" is anything Chris Strachwitz doesn't like -- and if that's true we should be grateful that the man has such a diverse ear. According to some of our stars, "mouse music" is any music that is:
Wilson Savoy: Cheesy, with no soul.
Michael Doucet: Popular.
Laurie Lewis: White bread. Mash potatoes.
Joe Wilson: It doesn't come from anywhere.
Archie Green: Inauthentic.
Steve Earle: I have no idea...
The term is somewhat elusive.... You can come up with your own definition after seeing the film, but rest assured, non-mouse music rocks your soul and gets your feet hopping.
More about Chris & Maureen
Chris and Maureen met thirty years ago while working for world renowned documentarian Les Blank. Maureen was Blank's sound recordist and editor. Chris quickly became his producer, learning sound and editing from the masters. Some of the films they worked on are Burden of Dreams, Gap-Toothed Women, Marc and Ann, and J'ai Eté au Bal: The Cajun and Zydeco Music of Louisiana (with Strachwitz). They each have struck out on their own since those days. Maureen directed and produced Blossoms of Fire a feature documentary tribute to the Isthmus Zapotecs of southern Oaxaca, which has played around the world. She has also edited many documentaries for PBS. Chris produced and directed four independent documentaries including the prizewinning Down an Old Road and My Canyonlands. She has made numerous other films for non-profits on subjects as diverse as cowboy poetry, southwest archeology and recycling around the world. Chris and Maureen have come together for this project because of their love for the music and culture Chris Strachwitz brought out to the world –- and to share the vision of their friend and colleague. Plus who could resist dancing in the streets?
No, we are still searching for a good title for the film. We plan to have a "film naming" contest during this Kickstarter campaign. So if you have any suggestions, let us know.
You can donate via our non-profit sponser, by mailing a check made out to the San Francisco Film Society with the notation "for no mouse music!" to:
San Francisco Film Society
39 Mesa, Suite 110
San Francisco, CA 94129
It's also possible to donate on their web site at: www.sffs.org/donate/donate-now.aspx?pid=90 They will send you a tax deduction letter for anything over $100, but all donations are deductible.
When you press the facebook link at the top of the project, you are actually not connecting to the project facebook page. Please link to us here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/No-Mouse-Music-The-Legacy-of-Arhoolie-Records-working-title/214952701872776
pledged of $25,000 goal
seconds to go
May 4, 2012 - Jun 18, 2012 (45 days)
Pledge $5 or more
Be part of the NO MOUSE MUSIC! movement. Help stamp out "mouse music" by spreading the word about the film to your friends, family and community.Estimated delivery: Jun 2012
Pledge $10 or more
A big thank you and a listing on our backers page on Facebook. You'll also get e-mail updates after Kickstarter ends.Estimated delivery: Jul 2012
Pledge $25 or more
ALL THE ABOVE and a digital download of the finished film.Estimated delivery: Dec 2012
Pledge $35 or more
ALL THE ABOVE and a link to a secret scene!Estimated delivery: Jun 2012
Pledge $50 or more
ALL THE ABOVE plus a copy of "A New Orleans Visit: Before Katrina," which was recorded during the filming and features Michael & David Doucet, The Treme Brass Band, Sammy Rimington, Henry Grey, Sunpie Barnes and Miss Lollipop! AND another secret scene (2 total)Estimated delivery: Dec 2012
Pledge $75 or more
ALL THE ABOVE and choice of either a DVD of "I Hear What You See: The Old Time World of Kenny Hall" by Chris Simon, featuring old-time mandolin and fiddle player Kenny Hall OR a DVD of "Blossoms of Fire" by Maureen Gosling about the Zapotec people of Mexico.Estimated delivery: Jun 2012
Pledge $100 or more
ALL THE ABOVE and a DVD of the finished film, signed by the filmmakers.Estimated delivery: Dec 2012
Pledge $150 or more
ALL THE ABOVE and link to another secret scene (3 total) plus another CD of music recorded during the filming, "Sammy Rimington Visits New Orleans" Mr. Chris thinks Sammy channels New Orleans jazz great, George Lewis, so you know this recording has to be totally non-mousey!!Estimated delivery: Jul 2012
Pledge $250 or more
ALL THE ABOVE and links to 2 more secret scenes (5 total) and choice of a second DVD by Chris or Maureen!Estimated delivery: Oct 2012
Pledge $500 or more
ALL THE ABOVE along with a "thank you" credit in the film, a signed copy of the Grammy Award winning book and CD set, HEAR ME HOWLING: Blues, Ballads, and Beyond as recorded by the San Francisco Bay by Chris Strachwitz in the 1960s. and a DVD of J'ai ete au Bal: The Cajun & Zydeco Music of LouisianaEstimated delivery: Dec 2012
Pledge $1,000 or more
ALL THE ABOVE and a SIGNED & framed photo by CHRIS STRACHWITZ. Chris is a great photographer and the photos he's captured through the years of his musical adventures are priceless...Estimated delivery: Dec 2012
Pledge $2,500 or more
ALL THE ABOVE plus a credit reading "This film was made possible by the generous support of (YOUR NAME!)" and 2 tickets to the premiere and premiere party (travel costs not included).Estimated delivery: Dec 2012
Pledge $5,000 or more
ALL THE ABOVE plus dinner with CHRIS STRACHWITZ and the filmmakers in the Bay Area. (travel costs not included, but we promise it will be unforgetable)Estimated delivery: Dec 2012
Pledge $10,000 or more
ALL THE ABOVE and a private screening for you and your friends with the filmmakers. We'll come to you anywhere in the US.Estimated delivery: Jun 2013