Featuring Mike Seeger, Elizabeth Cotten, Alice Gerard,Tommy Jarrell, Roscoe Holcomb, Sonny Terry, Denis McGee, Wallace "Cheese" Read, Canray Fontenot, Leopold Francois, Robert Jardell, Dewey Balfa, Marc Savoy, Jody Stecher and more
Homemade American Music
In visits with their friends and mentors, Mike Seeger and Alice Gerrard trace the origins of rural American music from traditional folk cultures in the southern United States and then demonstrate how traditional music is learned, played, adapted and performed by younger musicians from urban backgrounds. In addition to Mike and Alice, musicians include Tommy Jarrell, Roscoe Holcomb, Lily May Ledford, Elizabeth Cotten, Dewey Balfa, Marc Savoy, Tracy Schwarz, Hank Bradley, Jody Stecher, Irene Herrmann, Stefan Senders, Will Spires, Eric Thompson and Susie Rothfield.
(1980, 42 minutes)
Sonny Terry, Shoutin' the Blues
In a motel room in Oakland, California, blind blues harmonica great Sonny Terry tells a story about his start in show business and then plays an original solo in his own amazing style, created in over 50 years of playing.
(1969, 6 minutes)
Les Blues de Balfa
Through their festival appearances, concerts and recordings, the Balfa Brothers became the most renowned Cajun musicians and the first group to take their traditional music outside of southwest Louisiana. Tragically, just after this film was undertaken in 1979, brothers Rodney and Will were killed in a car crash. The surviving member of the group, Dewey Balfa, tells the history of his musical family and demonstrates the role of their musical tradition in his life, as he continues to spread Cajun music and culture in schools, music festivals and by playing with other musicians in local dance halls and clubs. In addition to the Balfa Brothers, musicians include Allie Young, Nathan Abshire, Tony Balfa, Rockin' Dopsie, Raymond Francois and the Cajun Playboys and Tracy Schwarz.
(1983, 27 minutes)
Filmed at homes in rural southwest Louisiana, this film presents six masters of traditional Cajun music : Denis McGee, Wallace "Cheese" Read, Canray Fontenot, Leopold Francois, Robert Jardell and Dewey Balfa, singing and playing traditional songs and tunes and talking about their music, their lives, their work and their environment. Representing a diversity of ethnic origins, ages and social classes, they all continue to speak in the French language as well as English.
(1983, 29 minutes)
Total Running Time: 104 minutes
Review: Talk about incentive to grab the video cam and hit the road in search of today's Americana masters. Thankfully, filmmaker Yasha Aginsky and his camera did exactly that many moons ago. They bounded down dirt lanes, knocked on screen doors, and, ultimately, rooted out some of the then-living roots of traditional music that spread from back-hills Appalachia to small-town Louisiana. Front parlors, kitchens, porches, yards, a schoolhouse auditorium, plus a club or two became stages for such legends as guitar wiz Elizabeth Cotten, Creole fiddler Canray Fontenot, "high lonesome" banjoist Roscoe Holcomb, zydeco accordionist Rockin' Dopsie, old-time fiddler Tommy Jarrell, and Cajun accordionist Nathan Abshire. Four American Roots Music Films lets them tell their stories and sing their songs -- from "John Brown's Dream" and "Poor Wayfaring Stranger" to "The Prison Bars" and "Lacassine Special." 1980'sHomemade American Music is a prototypical forerunner to Kenny Wayne Shepard's recent 10 Days Out, where young fogies -- here multi-instrumentalists Mike Seeger and Alice Gerrard -- play and sing and learn their way on a musical exchange with elder heroes.Sonny Terry: Shoutin' the Blues tracks down the blind harpist in a 1969 California motel room, where he comes perilously close to inhaling the harmonica during one of his whoopin'-and-a-hollerin' feats of musical hyperventilation. Lastly, both of 1983's Les Blues de Balfa and Cajun Visits ride around the Bayou State, with the former focussing on renown Cajun fiddler Dewey Balfa and his literal band of brothers, while the latter calls upon other old-school fiddlers Denis McGee and "Cheese" Read, as well as accordion squeezers Leopold Francois and Robert Jardell. A raw and real face-to-face with music's bedrock. - Blues Rag