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?
- (45 days)