Loving, music-filled tribute to Chris Strachwitz, guiding force behind legendary roots music label Arhoolie Records. With Ry Cooder, Clifton Chenier, Richard Thompson, Flaco Jiménez and a new generation of roots musicians.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2013
Since 1960 Chris Strachwitz has been the guiding force behind legendary roots music label Arhoolie Records. Born a German count, Strachwitz fled to America after World War II at 16. His passion for ‘authentic’ American music led him to track down musicians in barrooms, backyards and dance halls – and record them. Blues, Cajun, wild hillbilly country, Tex-Mex and New Orleans R&B: it’s an astounding catalogue and, as this film makes joyously clear, he’s still finding plenty that gets him jumpin’. Filmmakers Chris Simon and Maureen Gosling were long-time collaborators with the late Les Blank, whose films with Strachwitz feature here. They follow their man from New Orleans to Appalachia, encountering Ry Cooder, Clifton Chenier, Michael Doucet, Flaco Jiménez and a host of other musicians you will want to hear again.
“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