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DANCING TO NEW ORLEANS gives viewers a look at what makes Louisiana's rich musical heritage unique. Journeying from Shreveport through Baton Rouge to Acadiana and ending up in New Orleans, the film looks at how the people, culture and the land have nurtured Blues, Gospel, Cajun, Zydeco, Jazz and created sounds that have forever impacted music and music fans around the world. Featuring performances by Buckwheat Zydeco, Raymond Myles, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, BeauSoleil, Lionel Ferbos, C.J. Chenier, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, John Campbell, the Neville Brothers, Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas and more.
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Having just 90 minutes to cover the music of Louisiana in general and New Orleans in particular might not seem sufficient, but director Michael Murphy is up to the task in this entertaining documentary. The subject is huge: this is, after all, the birthplace of jazz, the spawning ground (with neighbor Mississippi) of the blues, the home of zydeco king Clifton Chenier, the Neville Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, and countless others, and the melting pot of African, European, and Caribbean cultures. But instead of focusing on the big names (Louis Armstrong gets only a perfunctory mention), the film spotlights (through interviews and live footage) lesser-known contemporary talents like blues guitarist John Campbell, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, songwriter-producer Allen Toussaint, a 12-year-old Cajun fiddler, and a 91-year-old Dixieland trumpeter. There's plenty of local color, what with sidebars about Louisiana's art, culture, and religion, but it's the infectious music that makes this one tasty gumbo. --Sam Graham
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