Thursday, October 24, 2013

I just found  my ancient Blog again!
Some news will soon appear - especially about travels with the film "This Ain't No Mouse Music" at film festivals.  Also what are we working on here at Arhoolie Records. And if you live in the Bay Area and might have seen the film at the Mill Valley Film Festival or at the Rafael Theatre and you liked some of the music, come and visit us at the Down Home Music store at 10341 San Pablo Ave in El Cerrito where we are having a 20% OFF Sale on all USED goodies! CDs, LPs, 45s, 78s, books, etc. this week end October 26 and 27th! Open from 11 AM until 7 PM - don't miss it! I'll try and be in the store for some of the time - More propaganda soon! Mr. Chris

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


MOMCI at ASHKENAZ THIS Saturday at 9:00

If you have any room in your musical heart and ears for the best damn band in the land - in the Tamburitza tradition (that is string band music from Croatia and Serbia)- you owe it to yourself to come to Ashkenaz in Berkeley this Saturday to hear this remarkable family band - with the father leading his family which includes young Peter on prim - the lead instrument - and exchanging wild solos with his father and other members of his family band - uncle and other siblings - Peter is like a young David Grisman of the tamburitza scene!

They also appear Sunday in SF at the Croatian American Cultural Center - check out their link! Be there or be absolutely square! And don't come up to me and say you are sorry you missed it! Cheers - Chris

PS - this is dance music and there will be dance lessons - so have fun - but they also make fantastic listening - and Peter turns on the girls with his youthful charms and his incredible hot playing! I doubt if they will do many schmaltzy tunes - this will be hot music from start to finish! CS

Monday, December 12, 2011

Howdy Folks!

Hello - just to let you know I am still kicking and will get on with this blogging business mighty soon! Adam Machado is my guide to this wierd empire out in the ether - and we will soon post some videos and assorted other goodies - stay tuned and check back soon for progress, because Progress IS progress - isn't that right?? I'll send an Arhoolie CD of my or maybe your choice to the first 5 cats out there who can tell me where I heard that phrase!

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hello everyone:

If you attended any of our events around Arhoolie's 50th Anniversary you no doubt noticed my hobbling around with a cane! Well, I just got a brand new right hip here at the Stanford Medical Center, and thanks to Dr. Malone, his team, and his great expertise, it seems to be a rousing success. Although the recovery period is a bit long, I look forward to getting back to work and hearing some fine music very soon!

The three day Benefit for the Arhoolie Foundation was a huge success and resulted in the Foundation making over $55,000.00 plus additional donations coming in from various friends. I wish I could personally thank every one of you who helped in this amazing production, but at this stage I can only say: Thank you all from the bottom of my sometimes cranky but well meaning heart!

I am glad to have received this computer from my local "angel" Rob Robinett, who along with his incredible wife Sandy Miranda, invited me to have this operation down here on the Peninsula, and my man at Arhoolie, Tom Diamant, who put my e-mail file on it as well as other goodies! But it is very tedious for me to type this since I am neither a fast typer nor quite used to this keyboard!

I want to express special thanks to Ry Cooder whose many loyal fans filled the Freight & Salvage to capacity for the Friday show and I believe many more were turned away. But that special THANKS does not diminish my THANKS to all the other fantastic musicians and all the many helpers! I am just now starting to listen to the music from those three incredible days and hope to pick out my favorite performances for a CD package release in the hopefully not too distant future.

I also want to go ahead with the production of several other projects which have been on my mind for some time: The Chicano Experience will be a book with four CDs, including the texts and translations of all the corridos, along with lots of illustrations. Another project is the Legacy of Dr. Harry Oster - again probably a book with some of his writings, transcriptions of texts and translations (for the Cajun/Creole material), and four CDs of his finest recordings covering a wide variety of American regional music.

Since the Arhoolie Foundation is now in better financial health, I also plan to move forward on several AF projects:

1) Of course continuing the digitization of the 45s and rare cassettes in the Frontera Collection.

2) Installing a listening station for the Frontera Collection at the Down Home Music Store so that fans, students, and scholars of the music can come in and listen to the complete recordings free of charge.

3) Contacting (with your help!) all the schools in the Bay Area who have any interest in Chicano Studies to make them aware of the listening station and to invite their involvement in our efforts to preserve, document, share and celebrate this great music!

That's it for now - cheers from Chris

Friday, April 23, 2010

Some News & Such!

Have been too busy to squak lately - so here goes: Am off to Louisiana to visit friends and check out the celebration for Sammy Rimington during second week end of Jazz Fest - plus other good musical events. Jazz Fest is just getting out of hand and too many big stars! It ain't what it used to be - but then what is? Will be back in a week but then return to New Orleans for the ARSC (Association for Recorded Sound Collections) annual gathering there and will give a presentation that Saturday about song catching in sw Louisiana over the past 50 years!
I think this went out and was posted by mistake - anyway here goes some more:
Friend and folklorist Alan Govenar's new book LIGHTNIN' HOPKINS has just been released and you can get a copy in a few days at the Down Home Music Store! It's an excellent book with many good photos well printed on glossy in the center and a discography of his recordings. It's well researched and Alan interviewed a lot of folks still around who remember Poor Lightnin' - I gave him my two cents worth and Minnie Phillips really tells about her really amazing experiences with the man! It's the only book on Lightnin' and every blues freak ought to read it! Since Sam was such a prolific recording artist and for every label which came around looking for him, the emphasis is a bit heavy on the various sessions - but there is plenty of history, early life and getting to Houston and of course many folks talking about him and interviews - especially that with Les Blank early on was great! I was just a fan of his and never really pestered Lightning about all that background - but enjoyed hanging around with him and meeting Clifton Chenier and once recording the whole Hopkins family, traveling to Europe with him for Lippman & Rau's American Folk Blues Festival, the West Coast, and even Newport - although I missed the big fight there between Alan Lomax and Mr. Grossman who managed Bob Dylan who had plugged his guitar into an amp! My hangover that day was too horrible to get out of bed - but when the gang came back to the barracks - Willie Dixon and Howling Wolf and Lightning etc - all told me about the Big Fight - oh well, you can't be everywhere - especially when you had to get booze for Lightning and I got a bottle of peach brandy for myself! What a killer!
The Arhoolie Foundation has just been blessed to receive the good news from the NEH (National Endowment for the Humities) that we are getting over $ 200,000.00 under the "We the People" program which will allow us over the next three years to complete the digitization of the rest of the 45 rpm discs in the Frontera Collection of Mexican and Mexican American recordings which we have been working on for many years! Thanks to Adam Machado who wrote the grants and keeps in touch with the folks there and also thanks to our loyal digitizer, Antonio Cuellar who has listened to just about every one of these thousands of discs!!
Stay tuned cause Arhoolie will celebrate it's 50th Anniversary later this year - even though it seems to be the last round-up for the CD format! What a shame - the stupid inventors are never happy with anything that's really good - they always invent some new crap to keep the peons poor and begging for more to feed their addiction to the latest junk!!! But LPs and real records are making a come-back - even 78s are still the real thing but the collectors only want the rarest of the rarest - keep your turn tables folks, and don't waste your money on yet another stupid TV format or the latest Piss-pod! Enjoy Life while you can! Later - Chris

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Down Home Music Store

After serving roots music lovers since 1976 the Down Home Music Store was facing a critical financial situation at the end of last year. We have had a long and successful run as a retail shop specializing in all sorts of Down Home, Roots or vernacular musical genres and as an outlet for my Arhoolie Records, but times have been very hard for record shops everywhere. Two years ago the staff felt that we should open a second store on Berkeley's fashionable 4th Street shopping area in an attempt to reach out to a wider audience. Unfortunately this last ditch effort to make the store more visible and accessible made our financial situation worse. We were forced to close on 4th Street, but our San Pablo Avenue store remained open and inherited a large number of listening stations and wonderful CD racks which I hope our customers appreciate for the wide variety of music they can now freely view and listen to.

At the start of 2010 I personally took over ownership of the Down Home Music Store, but had to economize and cut the staff to three and the hours and days of operation to 11 AM to 7 PM from Thursdays through Sundays. Since I am fortunately the owner of the building and wanted the store to survive I am now trying to revitalize the place by having a lot of live, in-store events along with making it more and more a "collector's shop." We also started an eBay store where you will find our more collectable items, especially in the Mexican music field but soon also in other genres and including more and more items from my personal collection. Stay tuned also for Down Home's revitalized web site! We have always bought and sold used LPs, 45s, 78s, and other collectibles and we continue to do so. So, stop by and check out our revitalized stock of not only new and used CDs but older formats like LPs as well.

I also want to take this oportunity to let you know that the Arhoolie Foundation is a not for profit charitable organization which can accept donations of all kinds and give you in return a tax credit. If you have been wondering what to do with your old record collections (of CDs, LPs, 78s, or 45s) that the ARHOOLIE FOUNDATION would love to accept them as a donation, evaluate them fairly, and give you a generous tax deduction. The Arhoolie Foundation in turn could sell such collections at a reasonable price to the Down Home Music store - thus helping both the Foundation and the store! (Chris Strachwitz)

Monday, February 1, 2010

With the Magnolia Sisters at the GRAMMYs

Hello again: Ann Savoy called me and said she and the Magnolia Sisters are flying out to LA for the GRAMMYs because their Arhoolie CD "Stripped Down" had been nominated in the Cajun/Zydeco category and wouldn't I like to come down and join them if she could get me admitted to some of the pre-TV parties and gatherings on Saturday. That I could not refuse - as long as I did not have to put on a monkey suit and attend the TV show! So I flew to LA and rented wheels - because I had been informed that the various events on Saturday were to be at several venues and the ladies needed a chauffeur! At 10:30 we met at the Figueroa Hotel and luckily I had rented a van since there were not only the four Magnolias but also Joel Savoy and Lisa's boy friend and that made it a party of seven!

First stop was the Millenium Biltmore Hotel's Emerald Ballroom where at 11 AM a delightful lunch was presented for the 2010 GRAMMY nominees from Louisiana and their close friends by LED (Louisiana Economic Development) and the Louisiana office of the Lt. Governor. As we entered and sipped the champagne handed us at the door, we already heard the sounds of Cedric Watson (Ex Pineleaf Boy!) and his wonderful band, Et Bijou Creole . The food was fine served by a well known chef from Louisiana - I especially liked the sauce piquante - lots of green salad - the gumbo was already gone by the time I decided to eat! More great music by Harry Connick who was joined by a good rhythm section of bass and drums as well as a fine trumpeter, Shamarr Allen who I felt sang better than Mr. Connick and Trombone Shorty to do some great jamming. Also a fine female jazz/R&B singer - I think her name was Ledici - did some tasty scat singing.

In the afternoon we walked over to the GRAMMY Museum - which had a show of photos about Elvis Presley and also a nice small theatre where the Zydeco/Cajun nominees were to present an informal concert at 9 PM. They all did their sound checks after which we returned to the hotel which seemed to be a nice, comfortable, old fashioned place with no glitz but a large, high ceiling lobby with old tiles and a funky feel from the past!

Around 5 PM we drove over to the Wilshire Ebell Theatre where the GRAMMY folks hosted a spectacular Special Merit Awards Ceremony and Nominees Reception for all nominees and their partners - luckily Ann got me a ticket! All drinks and food were free and of incredible quality and quantity! As I was the chauffeur, I decided to only get one drink right at the start - and gave the out-in-the-patio bartender some directions to make a perfect margarita. He had excellent tequila and was not using syrupy mix but all fresh ingredients - all I had to ask for was more limes!! From there to the inside where I spotted a huge table with salads, asparagus, roasted potatoes, roast pork, beef, and lamb in superb gravies! I went for the incredible roast lamb - I think it was the best I have ever had with a superb gravy! (And I thought I was a good gravy maker!) Wenty for seconds in no time! Later I found out from Joel that there were other tables loaded with crabs, fish, lobsters, etc - and I am not sure what other foods! It was simply superb - very few expensive restaurants could top this! The amazing array of little pastries was also startling and every one delicious - I think I tried at least 8 different ones! I admit I became a hog for that food! There was also live music and nominees had their pictures taken - formally and with assorted well known artists!

Then back to the GRAMMY museum for the evening's concert. Here again we were confronted by delicious guacamole, fruits, chips, as well as mineral water, beer and wine. I asked the lady in charge of service who made all this food and she told me that all the GRAMMY food was prepared by Austrian chef Wolfgang Puck who is apparently quite famous and certainly had trained his minions to perfection!! The concert started with the Magnolia Sisters doing a fine short but varied set after lengthy intros from Mrs. Buckwheat who after all was the prime force behind the establishment of the Zydeco & Cajun category in the GRAMMY's ever lengthening list of categories and the official MC whose name I don't recall but who seemed to be very involved and dedicated to many of the lesser or more regional musical traditions. Zachary Richard and C.C.Adcock followed and finally Cedric Watson and his group put down some great zydeco and were joined by Trombone Shorty and trumpeter Shamarr Allen for the last number which turned into a great long jam mixture of Zydeco and New Orleans funk! An unforgettable afternoon - thanks Magnolia Sisters - I hope you win the next time!

PS I was curious as to who paid for all this fantastic food, and was told by the same nice lady who tended to us in the green room -- or maybe it was someone else who told me -- that all of the GRAMMY food extravaganzas were paid for by the TV show!