This Ain’t No Mouse Music!
The Story of Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records
Feature-length Documentary by Chris Simon and Maureen Gosling
“Smokin’ hot!” —Radio One, New Zealand
“One of the best music documentaries around…This film puts the heart and soul back into music and opens your mind to incredible artists you may never have heard of.” —The Film Reel, Toronto
Chris Strachwitz is a detective of sounds, an archaeologist of the deep American music, music with roots that strike straight into the country’s heartland. He is the guiding force behind the legendary Arhoolie Records, producing albums that the Rolling Stones and many others played the grooves right off of. Since 1960, Strachwitz has been recording the authentic pulses of the great American music, throbbing away in the backwoods of the nation. His label offers an unparalleled catalogue of blues, Cajun, wild Hillbilly country, Tex-Mex and New Orleans R&B. These diverse musical strands seem to have grown right out of the ground they are played on. With tape-recorder in hand, Strachwitz traveled to plantations and prisons, roadhouses and whorehouses, churches and bayou juke joints. He returned with recordings that would revolutionize the sound of popular music.
In This Ain’t No Mouse Music!, their vivid portrait of an obsessive sonic sleuth, filmmakers Chris Simon and Maureen Gosling take a hip-shaking stroll from New Orleans to Appalachia and right into very the DNA of rock’n’roll. In this beautifully shot film, we come face to face with the creators of indigenous music, from the great Clifton Chenier to fiddler Michael Doucet, from Flaco Jimenez to the Pine Leaf Boys, playing songs that are endemic to their place and circumstance, to dialect and class, to climate and landscape. Their music is now highly endangered by the merciless steamroller of pop culture, assimilation and commercialism, which makes Strachwitz’s desperate pursuit to track down every last artist all the more urgent. But these songs aren’t meant to be locked away in a Smithsonian vault to be decoded by folklorists and musical anthropologists. This film is a living cultural history with a soundtrack that bites and kicks and screams. Even 50 years later, Arhoolie’s records remain alive, unruly and still so sharp that some songs can cut you right down to the soul.
—Jeffrey St. Clair, Author Born Under a Bad Sky