Dennis McGee Interview

Dennis McGee speaks candidly with Chris Strachwitz about Cajun music, his relationship with Amédé Ardoin, and his early days as a musician. Six months after picking up a violin for the first time, Dennis was playing for the whole neighborhood. “All around they had boys my age, and they were dancing in the house, and they’d come and get me for me to go play for them. $1 on Saturday, $1 on Sunday. I make $2 a week. That would give me everything I need. In that time the money was not much like it is in this time. Bad, bad, bad business now.” – Dennis McGee

  • Dennis McGee Interview 00:00
Interviewee: Dennis McGee
Interviewers: Chris Strachwitz, with Michael Doucet
Date: mid-1980s
Language: English/Français (Cajun)

This is an interview originally recorded for research purposes. It is presented here in its raw state, unedited except to remove some irrelevant sections and blank spaces. All rights to the interview are reserved by the Arhoolie Foundation. Please do not use anything from this website without permission.

Some interviews contain potentially offensive language, including obscenities and ethnic or racial slurs. In the interest of making this material fully available to scholars and the public, we have chosen not to censor this material.

Statement on the passing of Chris Strachwitz

Arhoolie Records Founder
July 1, 1931 – May 5, 2023

We celebrate the life of our founder, friend, and great record man Chris Strachwitz. He died peacefully at home in Marin County, CA, surrounded in his last days by dear friends and family. Over his 91 years, Chris captured the music that represents the best “down home music” the world has to offer.

He was at the forefront of nearly all the roots revivals over the last 60 years including blues, zydeco, Cajun, Norteño and Tejano music. His drive to document traditional music helped introduce the nation to our diverse musical heritage. He had the foresight to save music that might have otherwise been lost to obscurity and played a role in strengthening cultural traditions through his records, films, and most recently the Arhoolie Foundation. He cared for those around him, fought for royalties and recognition for Arhoolie artists, and provided counsel to countless musicians, writers, film makers, and academics.

Plans for a public celebration of his life will be announced in the coming weeks. Today we’re thinking of all that Chris brought to our lives and the lives of the musicians and fans with whom he shared his passion.