I just got through watching the 2 most EXCELLENT DVD's to grace my collection. "J'ai ete au bal (I went to the dance)" and "Spend it all". Bought for $29 each at Savoy Music Center.
J'ai Ete Au Bal is like a video companion to the book Cajun Music: A Reflection Of A People by Ann Savoy. It chronicles the history of Cajun and Zydeco music from the 20s up until the late 80s. Many of the old-time artists were still alive in the video. Dennis McGee, Canray Fontenot, Marie Falcon, DL Menard, Nathan Abshire, Dewey Balfa, etc.. They weren't interviewed like "How many records did you sell". They were recorded going about their regular life, playing music, telling stories, hanging out, drinking beer, etc. This kind of filmmaking really adds life to the movie. There were lots of "highway" shots, as in, driving down some country highways, recording the scenery. This was done before Lousiana became one big trailer park (mobile homes all over the place), so what you see are old country homes and the cajuns that lived in them.
The filmmaking and audio production are nothing short of brilliant. The SOUND QUALITY of the old records sound WAY better than what I remember. Even the early Joe Falcon/Cleama Breaux songs popped right out of the speakers. Not CD quality but very clear and listenable. I was glued to the TV as soon as the first notes of Iry Lejeune's "J'ai ete au Bal" came out of the tv until the very end of the DVD.
Spend It All goes way back to 1970. I wasn't even born yet but I have experienced alot of the things that went on in the movie. Here we see Dewey and Nathan playing and telling jokes, cajuns fishing and cooking their catch right there at the campsite. The highlight of the film is the early footage of Marc Savoy. It's at his home in Eunice where he's having a "Boucherie", a hog killing. Plenty of beer drinking, french music playing, tooth pulling, and pig eating.
Both films are nothing but magical for me. It's like seeing into the past, the dances, the barbeques, the beer drinking, the music. Something that even this day, most of it is gone except for the few traditionalists who (like Marc & Ann Savoy) keep it alive.
If you don't have these movies, go to Savoy Music Center as fast as you can get there (watch for the construction on 190) and get these. The next films I'm going to get are Yum! Yum! Yum! and Everything But The Squeak.
I dont have "Spend It All" yet, but I did enjoy "J'Ete' Au Bal" and "Everything But the Squeak". I also might suggest "Lache Pas La Patate" and "Anything I Catch, The Louisiana Handfishing Story". Floyds has them if you cant find them at Savoy's, you can also find them on Ebay sometimes at good prices.
Brought back good memories and I now have a little footage of some family members and friends.
I guess "Spend It All" is next on my list, I was wondering how it was. These videos are medicine for the soul of those who now live elsewhere.
I'm gonna get Everything but the Squeek next Sat. I'm grateful that I've been to a Boucherie. It started early in the morning when the pig was shot to late at night when all the sausage and meat was being cooked. Somewhere I had video footage that I took but I think it's gone since Katrina passed. A relative had a copy of some of my grandpa's VHS and Super8 home movies. It's like watching a Les Blank movie. People drinking, dancing, eating. Oh yeah, that was the good times.
I didn't know Floyd's had a video section. Next time I'm in Ville Platte I'll check it out.
Some of my fondest memories growing up were of the boucheries. We didnt do any dancing that I remember, but man the food. Luckily most of the food that we had can still be bought in many stores there. Doesnt have the atomosphere though.
My grandmother used to make the rice dressing and put in a big bowl with one big spoon in it and set it on the big table where we were all cutting. Everyone just used the one spoon to grab a bite everynow and then.
Boucheries used to bring together my extended family that we usually only see for funerals now.
Like I said, I've only been to one but what a time. The only one that didn't have a good time was the pig. But, man, the sausage, the pork meat, the hogshead cheese, the "fess de cochon". Man that was some good.
Unfortunately, I was raised by strict Christian parents (no negative comments about Christianity, please) so I kinda had limited access to my grandpa's side of the family (which was part of the culture). I did miss alot of the barbeques and boucheries because my mom feared the "beer drinkin" and the "cussin" would corrupt me and the ones I did attend, my mom watched me like a hawk and wouldn't let me get to close to the crowd because I'd pick up a new bad habit or cuss word. Go to a dance hall, FORGET IT! "those people are all drunks. All they want to do is drink, sin, and cuss.", well, true, but not as horrible as my mom made them out to be. Now that most of those "good ol days" are gone, I miss them dearly. Yeah we have barbecues and get-togethers, but it ain't NUTHIN' like it used to be, not like you see in those videos.
By the way, just watched both films again today.