Monday, March 26, 2012

Fiddles and Accordions

J'ai été au Bal/I Went to the Ball (1989) - Blank/Strachwitz
A comprehensive anthropological survey of Cajun and Zydeco in Southern Louisiana. Blank, a Southerner (born in Florida, schooled in Louisiana), dips right into the subject and the history of the celtic and West Indies infused, fiddles and accordions heavy, impossible-not-to-stomp-your-feet music. It features many of its pioneers and practitioners showing off their skills. I had very little idea of the Cajun culture, so the film is a great history lesson- the Acadians, the descendants of French settlers in Nova Scotia who got kicked out by the British, made the long journey down to Louisiana (French colony at the time) and mixed in with Creole blacks and Cajun was born. Zydeco, also accordion heavy dance hall music (with a rub board thrown in), was derived from beat heavy African music combined with blues. There are also a lot of similarities between Cajun and early Country music. Fascinating from beginning to end, with plenty of amazing, upbeat music, J'ai été au Bal is a lively, colorful documentary about music and its people. Highly recommended.

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