Sunday, May 8, 2016

Zydeco Crossroads: A Tale Of Two Cities Blu-ray Review

In 1994, documentary filmmaker Robert Mugge released The Kingdom Of Zydeco, a film which delved into zydeco music, focusing on two of the music’s most popular artists. Now he has returned to the music of southwest Louisiana with Zydeco Crossroads: A Tale Of Two Cities, a movie which documents the journey of a Philadelphia radio host down to Lafayette to capture the music of the Creole culture.

The film begins at WXPN, where the station’s manager and assistant manager talk about their plan and desire to expose their audience in Philadelphia to other musical genres. The resulting project is Zydeco Crossroads, with the aim of bringing that music to Philadelphia through a series of concerts. And in addition to concerts, the station is involved in dance lessons and so on, in an effort to expose the people of Philadelphia to that culture. David Dye, host and producer of the radio program “World CafĂ©” travels to Lafayette to broadcast live performances from the home and heart of zydeco, to kick off the project.

This documentary features interviews with many zydeco musicians, including C.J. Chenier, Rosie Ledet, Sean Ardoin, Andre Thierry, Louis Michot, Corey Ledet, Buckwheat Zydeco, Nathan Williams, Chubby Carrier and Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. The interviews are conducted by David Dye. Sean Ardoin provides some interesting information on the music and its terms. And there are concert performances by C.J. Chenier And The Red Hot Louisiana Band, Rosie Ledet And The Zydeco Playboys, Creole United (they do a really sweet original song), Soul Creole, Sid Williams, Nathan And The Zydeco Cha Chas, Buckwheat Zydeco, Chubby Carrier and others. Vasti Jackson plays “Zydeco Crossroads” outside El Sid O’s, along with Chubby Carrier and Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. (some cool footage). As in The Kingdom Of Zydeco, these songs (for the most part) are presented in full, rather than in snippets – something I really appreciate. Also, this documentary actually identifies the songs and the songwriters on screen as each number starts.

This documentary explores the family aspect of zydeco music, as well as the connection between zydeco and the blues. David Dye also interviews Michael Tisserand, author of The Kingdom Of Zydeco (a book named after the earlier documentary). Another part of that interview, by the way, is included as a bonus feature on the Blu-ray of The Kingdom Of Zydeco. Sid Williams and Buckwheat Zydeco talk about starting El Sid O’s. And there are also several old still photos of zydeco musicians. The one this film lacks is a strong ending.

Bonus Material

This Blu-ray includes Rosie In The House Tonight, which is interview footage of Rosie Ledet mixed with concert footage of Rosie Ledet And The Zydeco Playboys at the Holy Saviour Social Club in Norristown, Pennsylvania (some of which is included in Zydeco Crossroads). This bonus feature is nearly an hour long.

Zydeco Crossroads: A Tale Of Two Cities was released on Blu-ray on April 8, 2016 through MVD Visual. On that same date The Kingdom Of Zydeco was released on Blu-ray, also through MVD Visual.

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