“I always give Chris Strachwitz credit for creating, for me, the opportunity to hear accordion so I could love it.” –Taj Mahal
I watched a great documentary today. That Ain’t No Mouse Music, the story of Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records.
First, go to Netflix and watch this movie. Or buy it on Amazon. It is a gem, if you like music, like quirky stories, or just have eclectic taste.
Chris Strachwitz would have been a German aristocrat, managing a Polish castle, but his family had to flee his native Germany to escape the Russians at the end of World War 2. Chris ended up in the US, and soaked up parts of American culture others ignored. He began recording blues straight off the cotton fields and factories of Texas and Lousiana.
He founded the company Arhoolie Records. Arhoolie is a term for a “field holler,” the songs used by slaves and laborers in the South to coordinate the rhythm of their work and express themselves as they worked. Mack McCormick, a blues researcher who helped Chris find many of the artists he recorded in the South, suggested the name.
The film covers nearly every kind of music that does not get big play in “mainstream” music circles, starting with blues, then moving to zydeco, Mexican folk music, and Appalachian roots and bluegrass. Along the way, Chris shares stories of recording names like Lightnin’ Hopkins and Big Mama Thornton, and introduces you to enough new names in music to keep you in new music for a year.
Here is one of the bands I discovered from the video. Pine Leaf Boys are well known in Zydeco and Cajun music circles.
“I Got a Camel / Lulu Don’t Go to Bingo”
This Ain’t No Mouse Music was thoroughly enjoyable, and I plan on watching it a few more times. You can get the Soundtrack CD at Arhoolie Records. Take a look and let us know what you think!