Mill Creek couple profile women in roots music

  • Wed Feb 12th, 2014 6:32pm
  • Life

By Gale Fiege Herald Writer

It’s ready to roll.

After years of traveling the country to film women who play the blues, Dyann and Rick Arthur, of Mill Creek, plan to premiere their freshly updated and remastered documentary movie “Americana Women: Roots Musicians — Women’s Tales &Tunes.”

The showing, plus live music, begins at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15 at Ballard’s Salmon Bay Eagles Club, 5216 20th Ave. NW, Seattle. Tickets are $10 and are available online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/541950 or at the door. A DVD of the movie will be available for sale.

The event, sponsored by the Washington Blues Society, benefits the continuing efforts by the Arthurs and their nonprofit MusicBox Project to document women who have attracted less attention than their male counterparts, but who have established their places in the history of American music.

During the past three years, the Arthurs, who are themselves musicians, traveled from New England to the Deep South and back to the West Coast interviewing these women, ages 18 to 93, and recording their music.

“We want to save them from obscurity,” Dyann Arthur said.

The MusicBox Project collection already is catalogued in the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

The women musicians in the film are experts in Appalachian folk music, the blues, bluegrass, old-time country music, gospel, jazz, Cajun, American Indian music, klezmer, maritime folk music and zydeco. It’s what the Arthurs call traditional “A to Z roots music.”

In Breaux Bridge, La., for example, the Arthurs followed bassist Yvette Landry to her bar gigs with an all-woman Cajun band. Landry, who can trace her family many generations back to French settlers in Canada who later moved to the South, said playing music is her life.

The Arthurs unpacked their guitars in Arkansas when 93-year-old fiddler Violet Hensley invited them to join her as she and her family played the old favorite, “Turkey in the Straw.”

It’s been a wonderful retirement project for the Arthurs, who also plan to perform at the event with the band The Shed Players.

For more information about the MusicBox Project, go online to www.musicboxproject.org

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.