by Ken Korman
A native son of New Orleans and one of its finest singer-songwriters and storytellers, Paul Sanchez also has a rare knack for bringing people together under difficult circumstances. Director James Demaria’s 48-minute documentary The Key to Me chronicles Sanchez’s early life on the streets of the Irish Channel, along with the many phases of his career from his years as a member of Cowboy Mouth to his recent co-creation of a musical based on the book Nine Lives. The film finds its purpose in detailing Sanchez’s success at community-building among disparate musicians in post-Katrina New Orleans, and in the epic 20-year love story of Sanchez and his wife Shelly. There’s no question about the film’s low-budget origins — it may be the first documentary to feature multiple interviews conducted and shot on Skype. But that ragged authenticity fits the film’s subject like a comfortable old suit.
The Key to Me premieres in New Orleans on WYES-TV Channel 12 Saturday, May 3 at 9:00 p.m. A viewing and premiere party will take place at that time at Buffa’s Bar and Restaurant, 1001 Esplanade Avenue, followed by a Q&A with Paul Sanchez and James Demaria and a live performance by Sanchez. After the premiere, the film will be available for viewing at wyes.org for a limited time.