I’m Checking Out My Roots. Musical Roots, That Is!

Are you like me? Do you love documentaries the way I do? There’s nothing like a great documentary (Or as Bonaparte calls them “document-AIRzzz“) to give you a peek into the world of photography, food, other cultures—just about anything!

Documentaries bring out the nerd in me. They feed my appetite for curiosity downright nosiness!

So do you also love music the way I do? I need my daily dose of music—it’s my drug of choice! So many types of music—and so much history. Music is a pleasurable form of education!

roots 003

Doctor Atypical60 says a daily dose of music makes you happy!  I’m back to my dosage of Roots Music! This collection is great!

Yesterday I had the best of both worlds by watching a GREAT musical documentary “This Ain’t No Mouse Music”.


It’s on Netflix. Trust ME–if you get the chance you MUST watch this. If you love music you HAVE to watch this–it is EPIC greatness!

This Ain’t No Mouse Trailer –Check out Ry Cooder!

The film follows the search for the elusive Roots music and other indigenous music that add to the gumbo of our American music scene. This search is led by Chris Strachwitz, the founder of Arhoolie Records.

Blues Musician Mance Lipscomb and Chris Stratchwitz in 1968. Photo from LA Times

Chris Strachwitz with Mance Lipscomb in the early days. I got this photo from Texas Monthly.  I love the look on Strachwitz’s face–he’s beaming with happiness. I would be too if I had met Mance Lipscomb!

If it weren’t for Chris Strachwitz, there is a good possibility much of this music would go unnoticed and fade away into oblivion except for those who still play these jewels within their own regional locales.

Watching Strachwitz literally resurrect our roots musicians is a musical miracle.   Honestly, I don’t know if he discovered or “re” discovered many local musicians from the various regions of our country, but he sure did collect an awful lot of great ones.

This Aint no Mouse music Chris STrachwitz

James Brown may be the Godfather of Soul–but Chris Strachwitz is the “Godfather of American Roots” music!  I snapped this picture while watching the film!

Among them, Mance Lipscomb, a local South Texas blues singer who was an important part of this film. He, along with a young sharecropper, Yank Thornton, wrote a song, “Tom Moore’s Farm”, which Lipscomb recorded for Strachwitz. Lipscomb’s request was that the song not be played until after Lipscomb died. He was afraid of what Tom Moore would do—Moore had a huge plantation and wasn’t very kind to his workers. Years later another blues singer, Lightnin’ Hopkins recorded the song changing the name “Tom” to “Tim”. These recordings are an amazing piece of history—you can hear how badly people were treated through both men’s voices and through the song’s lyrics. The singing is pure and stripped down. True soul—which makes it all the more beautiful.

LIghtin' Hopkins and Clifton Chenier

Lightnin’ Hopkins and Clifton Chenier. What I wouldn’t give to have seen these two play some live music–I wouldn’t be able to sit down!

Forget the glitz and over produced country garbage that hits the top 40 charts these days. The old timey country music—the naked songs, stripped of the glamour, are the ones that can be very moving. These songs have feeling and heart. You can hear the pain and anguish and it goes directly through your skin and past your bones and rests in your soul. There is a sad and almost eerie quality to many of the songs—but they are just so wonderful to listen to that you are completely mesmerized and placed into a musical trance.

Clifton Chenier ad.

THIS is as glitzy as it gets!  No lasers, no fireworks on stage–just musicians and their instruments!

The film also includes a plethora of information about Arhoolie records, the record company Strachwitz created. Arhoolie is a collection of incredible CD’s—many that you can purchase online. Trust me—I already ordered a few. If you love Roots music, you will adore this record company!


I felt like a kid in a candy store when I went onto Arhoolie’s site. Oh. My. Godfather of American Roots Music. I cannot wait to order more music!  The link to their website is below. Go have a look-see–you’ll go nuts!

Arhoolie Records Goldmine of a Site!!!!

A bit of trivia here. Remember Woodstock? Remember Country Joe and The Fish’s song “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag”? Strachwitz was the first to record the song. And—after he gained publishing rights to the song, he later paid Country Joe for the song’s royalties!


WTF has happened to music with a social message? Where are the anti-war songs today? We need the hippie era back. We need bands like Country Joe!

The film also focuses on the different types of regional music like Mexican, Bluegrass, and the great music of Louisiana.

This aint no mouse music michael doucet

Michael Doucet of BeauSoleil was a good part of this documentary as well. I could listen to him all day too!

And this is where the film got me! It’s been years since I have been in Louisiana. New Orleans in particular. I still cook up a mean Gumbo—it’s become a family staple. I can whip up a fantastic crawfish etouffee and for dessert the best bangin’ pralines this side of the Mason Dixon line. And while I used to cook all those delights on a regular basis, the Cajun music would be playing in the background. And I would grab the kids and we would start dancing around the house! The music DID that to us!


MEAT!  The “Boucherie” in Cajun country is a perfect excuse for music, dance, drinking and eating.  Why did I never have reason to move down to Louisiana?  I’m coming back in my next life as La Jolie Brunette this way I can enjoy!

But—my Louisiana music had been “resting” on a shelf downstairs.

This aint no mouse music. Boucherie and music

Seriously–who does not want to be a part of THIS?  Get me a plane ticket and I’m gonna be a part of the band–I’ll sing my heart out!

It’s been a while since I dusted my Cajun cd’s off and played them. I’m listening Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys “Deux Valses A Wayne Perry” as I write this. Luckily and fatefully, watching this movie made me take those cd’s out and listen to them again!

Cajun/Creole music is a part of American Roots music, but those musical roots come from France—in particular, Brittany. The music of Brittany, Breton, comes from the Irish…and the roots branch out to parts unknown.

Brittany music

Bagad Lann Bihoue–Totally French and yet Celtic at the same time–and may I add this guy looks an awful lot like Wilson Savoy of “Pine Leaf Boys”!……

Trad Music class

…and the music of Brittany (Breton) stems from Irish Traditional Music, here John Wynne (Yes. He’s my cousin and a fine musician!) leads a master class!

Cajun runs the gamut—sad songs, happy songs, songs about heartbreak and love—it’s all there!

As painful as the blues are, Zydeco is happy and fun and carefree.


Boudin, a strong Hurricane drink and Buckwheat Zydeco is sure to make your spirits rise!!!

Regional Mexican Music—Tejano music. Simple and pure—and the Mexican accordion definitely has a different attitude than the Cajun accordion. This is music that influenced Tex-Mex musician Joe King Carasco and others. It’s great party music—but many of the songs were about being poor and were geared toward the laborers and working class!

This aint no mouse Mexican roots music

The regional Mexican music is beautiful–and had a great influence on many singers!

Another great thing about “This Ain’t No Mouse Music” was finding new roots musicians. Seeing and listening is learning!

No Mouse Music wall at Althooie records

No Mouse Music–just pure, raw, stripped down Roots music is what we need to listen to!

Pine Leaf Boys: Wilson Savoy, a member of this band is son of the famous Cajun musician Marc Savoy. It’s Cajun music with a bit of a youthful edge!


Pine Leaf Boys. Tell me the guy with the accordion, Wilson Savoy, doesn’t look like the guy above in the French military band playing Breton music!

Big Momma Thornton: definitely an influence on Elvis Aaron Presley. Her version of “Hound Dog” is bluesy and hits the heart.

Big Momma Thornton

Bit Momma Thornton had an even bigger voice! Check it out below:

No Speed Limit: Modern Bluegrass band that’s a throwback to old bluegrass. Amber Collins has a voice that could break glass—and I mean that in the best way ever!

No Speed Limit

This CD is on my list–I’m intrigued with Appalachian music thanks to “This Ain’t No Mouse Music”!

I also learned that the iconic Ry Cooder is alive and kickin’!!

cooder stratchwitz tower records better pic

Ry Cooder with Chris Strachwitz at the now defunct but  wonderful Tower Records.

My point is this. You like music? Ever wonder where certain sounds and genre’s come from? Ever wonder what started it all in our country?

Here’s how strong the power of music is–Pine Leaf Boys in Uzebekistan! Man–music can create world peace!

Great clip of Pine Leaf Boys in Uzebekistan!

Take a step back. Focus on where it all began and where it all came about.

You’ll thank me for it!

Oh..and yes. I DO like mouse music too. I enjoy the happy-go-lucky poppiness of Abba, KC and his band of sunshine, Laurent Voulzy and many others. It’s just that I have a special fondness and love of the obscure roots music that adds to our diverse and wonderful America!

Today–I end this with Mance Lipscomb’s “Tom Moore’s Farm”. Listen–and feel the anguish and blues! It’ll move you! XOXOXOXO!!  Seriously.

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
This entry was posted in Big Momma Thornton, Breton Music, Buckwheat Zydeco, Cajun Music, Chris Strachwitz, Clifton Chenier, Irish Traditional Music, John Wynne, Lightin' Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb, Mexican Music, Michael Doucet, Pine Leaf Boys and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to I’m Checking Out My Roots. Musical Roots, That Is!

  1. calensariel says:

    What a fascinating article! Er…Blog! SHOULD be an article in a magazine, however. I am partial to Celtic music. In 2005 we had the great pleasure of attending a cèilidh in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Thought I was in heaven! They were celebrating because Cape Breton had just gotten their own plaid registered.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Cheryl! Thanks! Ohhhh I am VERY partial to Celtic music as well. My daughter, Oona, was a champion Irish Dancer. I think over the years we’ve amassed every hornpipe, reel, jig and set piece ever recorded! But I also love the music from Cape Breton as well–it’s one of the reasons I want to travel to Novia Scotia–getting your own plaid is cause for a year-round celebration!! XOXOXO!!

  2. I love documentaries. And I love roots music and its modern indie/folk/Americana offshoot. I’ll have to check this out.

    A couple of years ago at the local art museum (which has a stage) I got to hear the Lost Bayou Ramblers, my first real exposure to Cajun music. I loved it and bought their album on the spot. They have some music in the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild, which is one of my favorite movies of all time — it’s surreal, funny, sad, and not at all mousified.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Bethany,
      You really should check this film out–it was just incredible and I will be watching again. And again. Lost Bayou Ramblers are a great group. I’m familiar with them through World Café and through “Beasts of the Southern Wild”–that movie was one damn great movie! I loved it as well! But back to the roots music. It’s nice to meet someone who is a fan of roots music. My daughter is going to a roots festival tomorrow–I raised my kids well! XOXOXOXO!! Let me know what you think of “This Ain’t No Mouse Music” after you check it out!

      • I’m lucky enough to live in the Triangle area of North Carolina, which has a crazy eclectic stew of music. Much of it is not exactly roots music, but heavily roots-influenced. (And then you have the Carolina Chocolate Drops, which is about as roots as you can get.) I feel a little guilty I haven’t spend more time investigating the local music scene.

  3. BunKaryudo says:

    Personally, I like Celtic music a lot (Irish, Scottish, Breton), Cajun and Bluegrass. I can’t claim to be any kind of expert, but they always get my feet tapping.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Bun–we definitely have our share of Celtic music in this house–with Oona’s dancing we have a ton of it! I love all those types of music–only issue is that I cannot keep still–its worse than the feet tapping-LOL! XOXOXO!!!

  4. gk says:

    Def going to check out the documentary, looks great! I was just thinking about how much I love music the other day, it makes me want to move. I was sitting in a park with my iPod blaring Blue Sky/Allman Bros and it made me so blissful.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi gk! You will love that documentary!!!! Hey–you just made me realize it’s been a while since I listening to “Eat a Peach”. I love the Allman Brothers–brings me back to a great place in time! Thanks!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  5. Chris Simon says:

    Thanks, Catherine, for loving our movie and the music so much! Love the photos and clips you used. Please like us on facebook and it really, really helps for folks to rate us on netflix, rotten tomatoes, imdb, iTunes, etc.
    All the best,
    Chris Simon

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Chris. I’m soooo happy that you liked the post! I’ll definitely take a stroll over to your facebook page and give you a strong “like”! I’m eagerly awaiting my order of records too! I cannot wait!! XOXOXOXO!!!

Leave a Reply