[Caio Silva, Unsplash]

Bobby Charles Documentary to Screen at UNO

09:00 May 17, 2024
By: Fritz Esker

A Swamp Pop Legend

An often-overlooked Louisiana musical legend is the subject of the new documentary In a Good Place Now: The Life and Music of Bobby Charles.

The film, directed by local filmmaker David Dubos, will screen at the University of New Orleans Performing Arts Center on June 2 at 7 p.m. The screening is free and open to the public.

About Bobby Charles

Bobby Charles on a Porch Chair [Courtesy of David Dubos]

Charles was one the pioneers of "swamp pop." His compositions include Fats Domino's "Walkin' to New Orleans," Clarence "Frogman" Henry's "(I Don't Know Why) But I Do," and Bill Haley & the Comets' "See You Later, Alligator."

"As far as his legacy, for me and many others, Bobby would fall into that well-worn category of 'never got his just due.' He was a brilliant songwriter, unheralded except by other musicians and songwriters," Dubos said.

The Documentary

Dubos got the idea for the film while watching Martin Scorsese's documentary "The Last Waltz." That film revolves around the farewell concert of The Band. The concert featured luminaries like Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Dr. John, Neil Young, and more. Charles was the only performer on "The Last Waltz" CD that did not appear in the film (except during the finale performance).

Charles' omission from the movie sparked Dubos' curiosity.

"Solving this innocuous mystery then turned into me doing further research on Bobby and discovering that he led a pretty amazing life and had an equally interesting career. So I started contacting people who were closest to him," Dubos said.

Dubos started work on the film all the way back in 2015. One of his first interview subjects was Allen Toussaint, who Dubos spoke to just two months before the music legend's death.

During his research for the film, Dubos learned how Charles was a rock star who consciously avoided the spotlight. After "The Last Waltz," Charles moved to Abbeville and became a recluse.

"Doing a film about a recluse is, on the surface, crazy because you need B-roll and there was none of Bobby. I had to reach out worldwide to find even still photos of him during various periods of his life. There's no video of him performing, and there are very few stills," Dubos said.

Dubos is currently working on getting a distributor for the film for a theatrical and digital release. He also plans to submit it to film festivals, including the New Orleans Film Festival. He hopes it will introduce more viewers, especially younger ones, to Charles' music.

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