Amalgamated Mediaworks LLC

Chicago, IL

It's In the Blood: Leo Abshire & the Cajun Tradition


Leo Abshire may be the best musician most people have never heard of. He was a world-class musician and instrument maker who played for royalty, presidents, and at the Olympic Games in Atlanta. However, outside of Cajun music circles, he was relatively unknown, at least in the United States. He worked on the Louisiana and Texas oilrigs and factories until his retirement in 1995. But for decades, he was a living embodiment of the traditions of Cajun culture, and made it his life's work to pass those traditions on to a new generation of musicians. 

Leo Abshire played his music because he had to, because it was a part of who he was and where he came from. He was a hard working, humble man who didn't look or act the part of a great musician, but as Prof. Barry Ancelet points out, 'When he picked up a fiddle, he was transformed.' Cajun music fans know Leo Abshire from his early playing with Joe Bonsall, his later work with D.L. Menard and Eddie LeJeune, and from his world-famous Mardi Gras jam sessions.

'It's In the Blood' tells the story of Mr. Abshire’s music, and places it within a broader context of what it means to be part of the long and unique Cajun tradition. The documentary features music by Leo Abshire and the Olde Tymer's Cajun Band, and interviews with Cajun musical legends Doug Kershaw, D.L. Menard, and Steve Riley.

Screenings & awards

2007 Wisconsin Film Festival, Madison, WI

2007 Hardacre Film Festival, Tipton, IA

2007 Atlantic Film Festival, Halifax, Nova Scotia

2007 Ozone Film Festival, Covington, LA

2008 Rainier Film Festival, Ashford, WA

2008 ReelHeART International Film Festival, Toronto

2008 Landlocked Film Festival, Iowa City, IA

2009 Chicago International Movies & Music Festival

2009 New Jersey International Film Festival

2010 Talking Pictures Film Festival, Evanston, IL