The Good, the Bad, and the Critic

Review: This Ain’t No Mouse Music!

This Ain’t No Mouse Music! (2013) is an intriguing documentary by co-directors Chris Simon and Maureen Gosling. Their subject is Chris Strachwitz, a now-elderly record label owner with a fierce passion for music, particularly blues and folk. The story begins in 1960, where Strachwitz meets legendary musician Lightnin’ Hopkins, and ends about half a century later.

The subject of this documentary, Strachwitz, is a charismatic man who tells entertaining stories about his life in music. He has unbridled energy: no word that comes out of his mouth is dull, and every sentence has great importance. His knowledge of music is impressive, his love for it contagious.

Like most passionate people, Strachwitz has a grumpy and anger-prone side to him: there are certain musical acts which he absolutely detests, but overall he is a great man with a big heart. I left the picture with a greater appreciation for all of the people involved in making Arhoolie Records a profitable company.

Though the film is limited due to lack of archival material, there are many still images that capture the various eras examined throughout the film. The background music also gives us a sense of what Strachwitz heard on a daily basis. The directors expose us to a massive library of work, which spans multiple eras and genres, ultimately giving the viewer a greater sense of culture and the various problems that have been present in America.

Overall the documentary is remarkable. We are given an impressive amount of detail regarding the growth of American music and Strachwitz does a wonderful job of emphasizing the importance of this art. This Ain’t No Mouse Music! will inspire you to drop the Bieber and get with the blues.


Check out more of Michael’s reviews at, and catch a screening of This Ain’t No Mouse Music! at Cinematheque (100 Arthur Street) on Friday, Feb. 14-16 at 7 p.m., as well as Feb. 19 and 20 at 7 p.m.