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!