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Preserving culture with music

Texas Bluesman Mance Lipscomb and Arhoolie Records founder Chris Strachwiz from the film "This Ain't No Mouse Music" by Chris Simon and Maureen Gosling

Good music can be uplifting, it can be healing, it can get you out of the house and on your feet, dancing. A new documentary film, “This Ain’t No Mouse Music,” tackles another side of music: how it can act like oral history, preserving unique cultures that could disappear.

The film chronicles Arhoolie Records founder Chris Strachwitz. The 83-year-old Bay Area resident has spent 50 years on a journey to record musicians playing music to their communities.

Strachwitz was born into a privileged German family. In the film, he talks about fleeing war in Europe and arriving in the US when he was 16 years old.

Strachwitz: “It was a different world. The music was so amazing. Almost every morning when I woke up I turned on the radio. I listened to the hillbilly music, I listened to the gospel music, I was considered a weirdo. To me it just spoke. I was a lonesome cat. I just felt there was so much soul.”

KALW’s Julie Caine spoke with the film’s co-director Maureen Gosling in our studios about this cultural history that makes you dance.

To hear the entire interview click on the audio player above.