LES BLANK

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— I became interested in Cajuns in the late 50s when I was a student in New Orleans and wandered Westward, deep into Bayou and prairie country, discovering a dance hall deep in the woods where no one spoke English and the waiters wore revolvers. The dancing was hot and the beer icy cold. Fifteen years later, I met musician Dewey Balfa and his brothers at the folk festival at University of Chicago and shared Louisiana moonshine with them in their dressing room. I said I really liked their music and would like to do a film with them. They invited me down and I went.

Once there, I met Marc Savoy, who is at the core of Spend It All and ended up in three other films of mine on Cajuns and Creoles of SW Louisiana. Now, nearly 40 years later, Mark and I are performing / presenting in the Ozarks at an annual film festival there in 2010. Most of the band will be his wife and children.

Elsewhere D.L. Menard aka the Cajun Hank Williams spices up J’ai Ete Au Bal with his songs and manufactures handmade rocking chairs. D.L. actually met Hank Williams and asked him how long he takes to write a song. Hank replied “about 20-30 minutes.” Astounded, D.L. sat down to write a song, and in 20 minutes came up with his big hit Through the Back Door.


Les Blank was born in Tampa, Florida. His first independent films comprised a series of intimate glimpses into the lives and music of passionate people living at the periphery of American society — a series that grew to include rural Louisiana’s French musicians and cooks. Since then, major retrospectives of Les Blank’s films have been mounted at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Cinematheque Francais in Paris and as part of a major retrospective of his work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, among others. In 1990 Les Blank received the American Film Institute’s Maya Deren Award for outstanding lifetime achievement as an independent filmmaker. In 2005 Criterion released a special edition of Les Blank’s extraordinary documentary BURDEN OF DREAMS — a unique look into the massively chaotic production of Werner Herzog’s epic FITZCARRALDO. The Criterion release includes the self-explanatory 20-minute short WERNER HERZOG EATS HIS SHOE.