If you're missing live, steamy, funky, feel-good music festivals, you're gonna want to watch the good times rolling in this selection from our archives. Festival International de Louisiane is a five-day celebration of Francophonic music and culture that takes place each year in the heart of Cajun and Creole country - Lafayette, Louisiana. This year, it was celebrated virtually, but traditionally, it's a multi-stage event with 300,000 bandana-wearing, boot-stomping, skirt-swirling attendees enjoying crawfish etouffée and jambalaya while the washboards scritch-scratch and the accordions wail.



We were there with a crew of three cameras in the early days, 1989, which was just the third year of the festival.



The film mixes stage performances with field trips to visit some of the renown artists and musicians in the area. Highlights include:

- an interview with fiddler Dewey Balfa (shortly before his passing)

- a profile of DJ, musician and Zydeco music historian Herbert Wiltz

- a visit to a guitar store with Zydeco Force

- a porch-swing interview and performance with Michael Doucet of BeauSoleil and Steve Riley of the Mamou Playboys

- a studio tour with Cajun painter Francis Pavy

- a ride through the bayou and a visit to a crawfish factory

- an insider POV on a weekend-long Creole "trail ride"



From the Deep Grapevine is narrated by choreographer and actor Gregory Hines. The title comes from a quote by one of the members of Zydeco Force, "Honky tonk is how Elvis Presley started out. It's a certain way they dance, swinging, from the deep grapevine. I enjoy watching it and when my head get full, I try it myself."



The documentary features festival president, multi-media artist and activist, Tina Girouard, who delivers insight into the historical oppression suffered by those of both Cajun and Creole ancestry. She speculates that this shared history is what caused these peoples to remain isolated in the refuge of Lafayette Parrish, developing a shared culture and pride of place that has only recently been celebrated with outsiders. Tina is our guide throughout the documentary, just as she served as our guide throughout the filming, introducing us to the musicians visiting the festival from Vietnam, France, Martinique, Burundi and Senegal as well as her fellow artist friends closer to home.




There are additional performances by:

- Charmagne Neville Band

- Mose Alison

- Plastic Systems Band

- Burundi Ballet

- Sheryl Cormier and Cajun Sound

- Zydeco Rockers

- Les Freres Michot



In memory of the passing of Tina Girouard earlier this year, we've had the documentary digitally remastered and have posted it publicly to Youtube as a memorial to her talent and generosity. Turn up the volume and laissez les bon temp rouler!







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Updated: Jul 23, 2020

In December 1983, Thriller, the most expensive music video ever made at that time, debuted on MTV. The zombies dancing in the street with Michael Jackson were a hit, and Thriller also

became the best selling music video of its time.


Ibis was a band of six talented Black women from Brooklyn. Their Street Children video never played on MTV. The song was great. The musicians were terrific. MTV didn't support Black artists in those early days. In fact, Michael Jackson's Billie Jean was the first song ever played by a Black musician on MTV, also in 1983, two years after the channel launched.



But here's the thing. Street Children was released in the summer of 1983, BEFORE Thriller. This was one of A-Ray Productions' first projects. We made the music video with Ibis for NO BUDGET. Stylistically, it foreshadowed Thriller as a short story that takes place on urban streets, with choreographed backup dancers and actors setting the tone and dramatizing the lyrics. We had a blast filming it on location in our neighborhood in lower Manhattan. Parts of the video were shot on our rooftop on Chrystie Street. Not many people ever got to see it, and that's just a shame.



I like to think that if Ibis were together today, their music and their creativity would earn them the credit they deserved.


We've just dug some old 3/4" videotapes out of storage and had them digitally preserved by the conservationists at Standby.org. Happily, the Ibis video hadn't deteriorated beyond rescue. So never mind the glitches .... here's Street Children.




It's been so long, I can only remember some of the first names of the musicians. Carmen, and Sheri. And Konda Mason did the choreography. If anyone seeing this knows how to contact any of the Ibis band members, please put us in touch!




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Updated: Jul 19, 2020


Those of you who know me as the filmmaker behind Two Angry Moms and the author of Lunch Wars may wonder why you haven't heard from me in a while. Well, my kids grew up and my husband and I worked hard to put them through college. As a couple of documentary filmmakers, this was no mean feat. And then I decided I had to go back to school to get an MBA in Sustainability. I love learning.


We never stopped cooking for our family and friends though, and our passion for documenting and sharing what lies at the intersection of the culinary arts, food science and social justice has never abated. So a decade later, we are unveiling a new production: Cultured&Cured. It's a Youtube Channel (for now) with a growing list of video programs in two playlists: Asian Fermentation and The Quarantine Edition. Our goal is to be an accessible, trusted source for high-quality "living" food entertainment, instruction and recipes.


When I envisioned making the Cultured&Cured series, I was eager to learn from the experts about the science and art of making some well-known functional foods like lacto-fermented pickles, kimchi, beer, yogurt, kefir, kvass and sourdough bread. Even more fascinating though, are the unique flavor profiles and enhanced nutrition that chefs, researchers, cooks and scientists are developing using modern twists on traditional food alchemy techniques.


Watch the premiere of Koji Basics Part 1: That's a Fast Pickle


As a first subject, we asked our friend Chef Ken Fornataro to do a video on his work with Asian-style fermentation. He's been producing his own youtube videos for quite a while, and we wanted to distill his encyclopedic knowledge into broadcast-quality content with a narrative for newcomers as well as acolytes. I hosted, Alex filmed, and we had a blast learning about koji, natto, amasake, shio-koji, miso, and the incredibly delicious recipes he makes with these enzyme-activating living ingredients.


Watch the premiere of Koji Basics Part 2: Making Koji Rice with Chef Ken Fornataro

Instead of one video, we filmed an entire series (or Channel, or Playlist or whatever you want to call it) with Chef Ken. As both a Chef and a microbiologist, Ken explains how these Asian ferments interact with your microbiome to stimulate your senses, satisfy your appetite and restore good gut health. You can see what we've posted so far on the Cultured&Cured webpage, and more on our Youtube Channel, Cultured&Cured.


Watch the premiere of Foolproof Tomato Transplanting Secret with Host Amy Kalafa


Like most of the world this year, we are not traveling due to the pandemic. Instead, we're adding new videos weekly in our second series: Cultured&Cured - The Quarantine Edition. You can see how to harvest wild leeks and how to use them fresh in a tangy pasta recipe, or turn them into pesto and pickles. We're growing pears in bottles to make pear liquor in the fall. My husband Alex is making duck and pork prosciutto, and we've followed our friends Kate and David making amaro di nocino (green walnut bitters).


Watch the premiere of Curing and Caring for Cast Iron Pans with Chef Alex Gunuey


Once we can travel and film again on location, we'll feature more chefs, researchers, restaurateurs and local, small-batch producers in future episodes and series of Cultured&Cured.



Learn more about Cultured&Cured on our work-in-progress webpage.

Follow us on Instagram.

Watch our shows on Youtube and subscribe to our channel.

Read more blog posts.


We'd like to hear from you. What topics do you want to learn more about? Brewing? Baking?

Confit? Canning? Nixtamalization? Natto? Let us know!


Post your comments here, or contact amy@a-ray.tv.




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