Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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ARHOOLIE

Roots label formed '60 by record collector Chris Strachwitz, the name from a field holler on a Library of Congress recording. Strachwitz (b 1 July '31, Gross Reichenau, Lower Silesia) had come to the USA '47; Paul Oliver had given Strachwitz a list of blues singers to track down; the excellent guitarist Mance Lipscombe had never recorded at all, and Arhoolie 1001 was his first album; Strachwitz also wanted to record one of his favourites, Lightnin' Hopkins, in his natural element: live in a beer joint. He bought in masters from other companies, such as Swingtime: Ralph Lauderdale had earlier sold Ray Charles to Atlantic; now he sold Joe Turner, Pete Johnson and Lowell Fulson to Arhoolie. Advised about the value of rights, Strachwitz recorded Country Joe (McDonald) and the Fish singing 'I Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die Rag', and took a copyright in lieu of a fee; the record sold at anti-war meetings, but Joe sang it at Woodstock during the setup for a band that was running late, it was included in the film and the soundtrack set and the publisher's royalties paid for the copyrights of Arhoolie's back catalogue as well as a distribution warehouse. When the Rolling Stones recorded Fred McDowell's 'You Got To Move' (on Sticky Fingers) '71 Strachwitz was able to give Fred a huge cheque, and Fred went on to record for Capitol and tour with Bonnie Raitt. Arhoolie has recorded regional musics such as Cajun, Norteno, Czech- Bohemian, Hawaiian and Ukrainian-American, and newer roots- oriented artists such as the Klezmorim and accordionist Flaco Jimenez (whose Arhoolie album Ay Te Dejo En San Antonio won a Grammy); and to reissue artists such as the Harlem Hamfats and Tiny Parham (1900--43, keyboardist and arranger). Spinoff Old Timey label pioneered compilations of classic Cajun and zydeco. Strachwitz turned love of the music not only into publishing (Tradition Music), but a retail store (Down Home Music, with a 78-swap in the parking lot the second Sunday of each month), Down Home Music Mail Order and Bayside Record Distributing.