El Cerrito: Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records are subject of new documentary to be screened at Mill Valley Festival

Above is a trailer for “This Ain’t No Mouse Music! The Story of Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records,” a new 92-documentary by Chris Simon and Maureen Gosling that will be screening twice next month as part of the 36th Mill Valley Film Festival.

Strachwitz founded Arhoolie Records just over 50 years ago and for the past 40 or so years it has been headquartered with his retail store Down Home Music on San Pablo in El Cerrito (the official street address, even though the building is actually within the Richmond city limits).

Here is the description of the documentary from the film festival website:

In English, Spanish and French with English subtitles. American folk in all its ragtag glory—from New Orleans Dixieland, hipslapping country and front-porch blues to Tex-Mex, Cajun and Deep-South R&B—provides the rollicking soundtrack to Maureen Gosling and Chris Simon’s downhome documentary about an unlikely yet endearing champion of regional music. Born a German count, Chris Strachwitz fled the advent of World War II as a teenager and immersed himself in his adopted country’s musical roots. With ever-alert ears and rudimentary recording equipment, Strachwitz has traversed the back roads and juke joints of the heartland for more than 50 years, tracking down homespun musical talent for his Arhoolie Records label—eschewer of the corporate pop Strachwitz gleefully dismisses as “mouse music.” “If not for people like Chris, this music would have fallen out of cultural history,” says Richard Thompson in this revelatory film, as musicians and fans of all stripes (including Ry Cooder, Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal) rejoice in his sonic obsessions.

Screenings are scheduled for Oct. 8 at the Sequoia 2 and Oct. 11 at the Rafael 1. There will also be a concert in conjunction with the Oct. 8 screening at the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley. “San Francisco Chronicle music journalist and author Joel Selvin will host a rollicking performance by Southern roots music masters Eric and Suzy Thompson, Mexican roots music revival pioneers Los Cenzontles and Cajun/Creole dance band Creole Belles, with more special guests to be announced.”

Chris Treadway