Chris Strachwitz (1931-)

Chris Strachwitz is a music producer and the founder of Arhoolie Records. Strachwitz and his family came to the United States in 1947, living first in Reno, Nevada, and later in California. After graduating, he became a high school teacher, but spent most of his time off searching out music in clubs. In 1962 he left teaching to concentrate on Arhoolie Records, which has become a Grammy-winning record label that specializes in roots music.

Updated: May 06, 2015

Introduction

Chris Strachwitz (born July 1, 1931 in Gross Reichenau, Lower Silesia [then Germany, now Bogaczów, Poland]),[1] is a music producer and the founder of Arhoolie Records. Strachwitz and his family came to the United States in 1947, living first in Reno, Nevada, and later in California.[2] Strachwitz had been enthralled with American music since his teens, finding particular inspiration in the movie New Orleans,[3] featuring Kid Ory’s Creole Jazz Band, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and boogie-woogie pianist Meade Lux Lewis. Once he arrived in America, he immersed himself in regional genres that we now call “roots music”: blues, hillbilly, Cajun, Zydeco, Appalachian, New Orleans jazz, and Tejano.[4] During his college years at the University of California at Berkeley, he helped to promote jazz and blues musicians as entertainment on and off campus. After graduating, he became a high school teacher, but spent most of his time off searching out music in clubs. In 1962 he left teaching to concentrate on Arhoolie Records, which has become a Grammy-winning record label that specializes in roots music. Strachwitz’s passion drove him to disregard mainstream and popular music trends, along with the financial rewards they may have generated. The result, according to The New Yorker, is “the most voluminous archive of indigenous North American and Mexican music ever assembled.”[5]

Family and Ethnic Background

Chris Strachwitz was born as Christian Alexander Maria Graf Strachwitz von Groß-Zauche und Camminetz on July 1, 1931, in the village of Gross Reichenau in Lower Silesia. Gross Reichenau then belonged to Germany and after 1945 became Bogaczów, Poland. Chris’s parents were Alexander Maria Hubertus Hyacinthus, Graf Strachwitz von Groß-Zauche und Camminetz (1894-1962), and Friederike Frances Adelheid von Bredow (1906-2003).[6]

Although Chris Strachwitz’s mother Friederike was German, she had American heritage. Her grandfather was Francis Griffith Newlands (1848-1917), a U.S. senator from Nevada. In addition to his political career, Sen. Newlands was also heir to the Comstock silver mining fortune and was a founder of Chevy Chase, Maryland. One of Sen. Newlands’s daughters, Frances (1880-1907), married a German diplomat, Leopold Waldemar von Bredow (1875-1933). They eventually moved to Berlin and had a daughter Friederike, Chris Strachwitz’s mother. Chris’s parents would travel to the U.S. before the outbreak of World War II, and on one of those trips, Chris’s mother purchased records of American music. Years later, Chris still recalled these early recordings, including “Sonny Boy” (1928) by Al Jolson, and “I Want to Be Alone with Mary Brown” (1928), most likely by Stan Greening’s Lido Dance Orchestra according to Chris’s memories. Chris was fascinated with these recordings, and it sparked a passion that never left him.[7]

Chris’s paternal family came from a long line of prosperous farmers. His father was a count (Graf) in Lower Silesia, which makes Chris a count as well.[8] The family was forced from their Prussian homestead when the Soviet Army invaded Silesia in 1945. As owners of their own business, the Strachwitzes were considered capitalists, and thus were Soviet troop targets. The Strachwitz family fled their homestead as refugees and lived for two years with an uncle near Braunschweig in central Germany. There, young Chris was captivated by the American jazz and swing music that he heard on the Armed Forces Radio broadcasts.[9]

Two of Friederike’s great-aunts helped the family move to the United States. In 1947, Chris departed via Gothenburg, Sweden, and arrived in New York with his mother and five other Strachwitz children: Rosy, Frances, Barbara, Isabella, and Hubertus. Chris’s father emigrated to the U.S. in 1948. They lived for six months in Washington, D.C., and then moved to Reno, Nevada, where one of Friederike’s great-aunts lived. During the Nazi era, the U.S. authorities had seized Friederike’s American inheritance, so the Strachwitzes arrived in the United States penniless.[10] Chris did not speak English, and his impressions of America were limited to what he had read in German literature. On the train ride to Nevada, he fully expected to see Native Americans riding on horseback in the Plains.[11]

In 1947, Chris Strachwitz enrolled in the Cate School, a private boarding school in Carpinteria, California. It was there that he developed an appreciation for the regional and ethnic music that he heard on the radio. These included genres like hillbilly music, which had been brought to California during the Okie Dust Bowl migration. Strachwitz said of his time at the Cate School, “I always enjoyed visits with Mr. Martin, [an English teacher] who loved Jazz music. He would invite me to his room and we would listen to Jazz artists like Eddie Condon and Jelly Roll Morton.” Strachwitz says he even has fond memories of going to the dentist in nearby Santa Barbara, because the trip allowed him to spend a few minutes in a specialty jazz record store in the town. He was thrilled to find the store carried the obscure American Music Records label, with music from New Orleans artists like trumpeters Louis “Kid Shots” Madison (1899-1948) and Willie Gary “Bunk” Johnson (1889-1949).[12] With its proximity to Mexico, the Cate School was within range of Mexican radio station broadcasts. Strachwitz recalled that his favorite was Baja-based XERB, and at one point he even considered becoming a disc jockey for the station. Instead he began to experiment with his own recordings and aired them as broadcasts to fellow students. He graduated from Cate School in 1951 and enrolled in Pomona College in Claremont, California.[13]

At Pomona, his interest deepened in the genres of rhythm and blues (R&B) and New Orleans jazz through his friendship with fellow student Frank Demond (1933-), a musician who went on to perform with the well-known Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The two would drive several hours to hear jazz at a Los Angeles club called the Beverly Cavern, in particular to see George Lewis (1900-1968), a New Orleans ragtime clarinetist.[14] Demond also took Strachwitz to Sunday evening gospel events at St. Paul’s Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Strachwitz was often in a minority as a white attendee at many of the performances that interested him, surrounded either by mostly African American or Latino audiences. He longed to introduce his fellow white students to this roots genre of music.

Eventually, he found that he spent more time in the clubs than on his studies. With failing grades at Pomona, he transferred to the University of California at Berkeley in 1953.[15] At UC Berkeley, Strachwitz was first an engineering major, then a math major, and then a physics major before settling on a major in political science.[16] He joined the Big Game Committee, a university group that promoted team spirit for sports by hiring live bands to perform. He had no interest in football, but he had an ulterior motive: it allowed him to select a band to perform on campus. To scout out possible entertainment, he enlisted fellow committee members to join him at a San Francisco bar, the Hangover Club, where George Lewis’s band was a regular performer.[17] As a result Chris persuaded the group to hire this New Orleans jazz band to play a concert at the UC Berkeley Wheeler Auditorium, drawing a packed audience of enthusiastic college students.

To earn money while a student, Strachwitz became an early entrepreneur, purchasing and reselling records[18] to collectors around the world through the International Blues Record Club, which he started. He promoted his record sales through ads in a British publication called Vintage Jazz Mart, which is still around today.[19] He also began to experiment with making his own music recordings, taking a Wollensak recorder to some of the clubs in the area.[20] He was fascinated with the technology of recording live performances and with the art of “capturing something that would never be the same again.” Plus, he was captivated by the richness of American culture as expressed through music.[21]

Strachwitz became an American citizen and was eventually drafted into the U.S. Army in 1954 and stationed in Austria (Salzburg) and Germany.[22] He served for two years. He returned to UC Berkeley, graduated in 1958 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, and continued on to obtain his teaching credentials. In 1959 he began working as a teacher at Los Gatos High School (California), teaching German among other subjects. On the weekends, he would seek out local blues clubs.

In 1959 Strachwitz received a postcard from music historian Samuel Charters (1929-), who wrote the influential book The Country Blues (1959) and whom Chris had met in Berkeley. Charters told Strachwitz that he had found Lightnin’ Hopkins living in Houston, Texas. Strachwitz traveled to Houston that summer to meet and hear his idol. He recalled, “What [Lightnin’] did in those little beer joints was like sheer poetry that he made up on the spot.” [23] He later said, “Hopkins produced the most amazing and spontaneous music I had ever heard in my life. I knew I had to record it – live – in a beer joint! That’s when the idea of Arhoolie was born.”[24]

Business Development  

Admittedly, Strachwitz knew little about the recording industry. He recalled, “I had always thought that records were literally made in some huge factory where artists walked in one end like mice in a cheese plant, and out come the records on the other end. I had no idea how they were made.”[25] His role model for the business was an independent record producer called “Little” Jesse Jaxyson (1912-2005), who had a small recording business in the back of his radio and audio equipment repair shop in West Oakland, California.[26] Jaxyson would record artists who came in right off the street, producing the kind of rare recordings that appealed to Strachwitz. Bob Geddins (1931-1991) was another influential music producer and founder of the Oakland blues scene. Strachwitz looked up to Geddins for his business acumen with Big Town Recordings and a handful of other independent labels.

In 1960, Strachwitz was contacted by British blues scholar Paul Oliver (1927-). Oliver asked Strachwitz to conduct some research in advance of Oliver’s U.S. trip to produce a series of radio programs for the BBC. Strachwitz and Bob Pinson (1934-2003), a friend who shared an interest in Americana music and who wanted a ride to Dallas, set out on a trip to Texas with a list of artists Oliver was interested in. He and Pinson used old phone directories and word of mouth to try to locate the elusive artists.[27] Strachwitz was to eventually meet up with Paul Oliver and his wife Valerie in Memphis, Tennessee.

During that trip Strachwitz was able to record Black Ace, Melvin “Lil’ Son” Jackson and Mance Lipscomb[28] among others, setting up recording sessions in the performers’ own homes. Black Ace, born Babe Kyro Lemon Turner (1905-1972), was a blues guitarist who had made earlier recordings for Decca Records and had appeared in two films. Melvin “Lil’Son” Jackson (1915-1976) was a country bluesman who had recorded earlier for Gold Star Records and Imperial Records. After an automobile accident, Jackson had all but given up his music career when Strachwitz approached him to record. Mance Lipscomb (1895-1976) was a well-rounded local songster who later appeared at blues and folk festivals. All three of these musicians were Texans who made livings at side jobs during the day and performed at night. Strachwitz found Jackson working in an auto parts shop and Lipscomb on the highway cutting grass.

Strachwitz wanted the first Arhoolie pressing to be of his idol Lightnin’ Hopkins. But ironically, the artist was heading to California. So the first pressing was Mance Lipscomb’s Texas Sharecropper and Songster, made from that summer’s recordings. The initial Arhoolie LP (long-playing disc) pressing of 250 copies was made on November 3, 1960. The name for the record label was a twist on a rural word meaning “field holler” and was coined by Strachwitz’s friend Mack McCormick (1930-).[29]

With the initial discs received, Strachwitz and artist and designer Wayne Pope sat around his kitchen table gluing cover slicks onto black cardboard album jackets, in the fashion of the Folkways label packaging.[30] Strachwitz idolized the Folkways operation, and Arhoolie and Folkways Records shared a similar mission to preserve cultural music, although Folkways had a more grandiose vision “to document the entire world of sound.” Founded in 1948, Folkways eventually released over two thousand titles that included traditional and contemporary music, spoken word, and documentaries of individuals and events, becoming a significant influence within the music industry. Folkways' recording archives are now part of the Smithsonian Institution.[31]

Strachwitz hoped Arhoolie would capitalize on Folkways' burgeoning folk music movement at the time. Young people were looking for the more authentic, even rural, music forms from black and white performers, which Strachwitz was recording on his new Arhoolie record label. Mance Lipscomb was an African American down-home songster, and Strachwitz’s goal was to introduce a largely young, white folk music audience to Lipscomb and his roots genre of music. [32]

Strachwitz quit his job as a teacher in 1962, and he moved back to Berkeley, struggling to support himself on his record resale business and his new Arhoolie label. He recalled, “I was selling enough Arhoolie records here and there to eke out a living and enough profit to keep going and produce more recordings. Small distributors, both in the U.S. and in Europe, were beginning to help me sell albums via the retail trade.”[33] Also in 1962, Strachwitz founded his Old Timey label, mainly to reissue earlier country and Western releases from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. Since there was only regional interest in country music classics, the label had limited success.[34] 

Strachwitz released albums thoughtfully but steadily throughout the early 1960s, “due in no small part to [his] frugality, inventiveness, and shrewdness.” He was making only a marginal living, working as “producer, engineer, wholesaler, retailer and distributor.” [35]  He recalled, “I wasn’t making any money on it…I remember talking to Jack Holtzsman of Elektra [a mainstream folk label] at some folk festival, and he told me it took seven years to break even – I told him it took me a lot longer than that.”[36]

In addition to original recordings, he began reissuing other rare early records. In 1964, he launched his Blues Classics label for reissues of blues from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, mostly acquired through his own and Bob Pinson’s collections. That same year, Strachwitz recorded Zydeco music with Clifton Chenier (1925-1987), later considered by many to be the king of Zydeco. Strachwitz has also helped other Louisiana musicians gain recognition, including Michael Doucet (1951-) and his group BeauSoleil and the Savoy-Doucet Band. Strachwitz has done the same over the years for Tejano music, with recordings by accordionist Flaco Jiménez (1939-). This is in addition to blues guitarists like Mance Lipscomb and Lightnin’ Hopkins, as well as recordings of steel-guitar gospel.[37]

Most of the Arhoolie recordings resulted in small pressings, though, and at the end of the 1960s, Strachwitz was still struggling to maintain Arhoolie as a viable business. His most successful artist was Clifton Chenier, selling roughly five hundred records the first year and around one thousand the following years, but he didn’t ever have exclusive contracts with artists. He told them, “If somebody else comes along and offers you more money, go for it, but I wish you would let me know. Because if it’s RCA or Mercury I say go because they’ll make a lot of money and they’ll help me sell mine.”[38] And many of his early artists did go on and record with mainstream labels.

Admittedly, though, Strachwitz “never really looked at it as a business. I only recorded something because I liked it,”[39] although he did his best to be successful at what he enjoyed. In an unlikely turn of events, Strachwitz’s first real income came from the acquisition of copyrights to a song called “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die Rag” by Country Joe McDonald (later of Country Joe and the Fish). The song wasn’t released by Arhoolie. But when the song became one of the anthems at the famous Woodstock Festival in 1969, Strachwitz made money via 50 percent of the rights.[40]

The Arhoolie operation remained small by music industry standards. Strachwitz leased warehouse space in the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco for $15 a month, but by the early 1970s, Arhoolie had moved to its present location at 10341 San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito, California.[41] In 1976 he opened his Down Home Music Store, which is still in operation in El Cerrito. The store originally sold Arhoolie records, but in 1978, Strachwitz added a wholesale venture called Back Room Record Distributors, selling stock from other labels. Strachwitz later changed the name to Bay Side Record Distributors. He exported Arhoolie recordings globally and would import French re-releases of old American music. It would be his most profitable venture for a number of years. At the height of the record business, Strachwitz took home a personal salary of over $100,000, and his employees had benefits such as healthcare insurance and 401K retirement plans.[42]

Arhoolie also had a mail-order service, and by this time, Arhoolie was receiving a steady income from exports of roots music recordings to Europe and Japan. The company also found growth in its Tejano and Tex-Mex recordings. Arhoolie is particularly noted for its association with Flaco Jiménez as well as Lydia Mendoza (1916-2007), a Mexican American singer who was a 1982 National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellow.[43] Mendoza is considered the first queen of Tejano music, and recently had a U.S. postage stamp released with her image.[44]

In the 1970s Strachwitz formed another venture called Brazos Films with filmmaker Les Blank (1935-2013), specifically to capture the world of Tejano music. As Chris recalled of the venture, “I discovered people were filming blues and Jazz and country music all over the place. No one was doing anything about documenting this incredibly rich Mexican American border music. So I scraped together all of my savings at the time, and Les donated all of this equipment, and the two of us went around Texas on two different trips and finally came out with Chulas Fronteras [1976].[45] The film features Jiménez, Mendoza and a number of other Norteño musicians of the Mexican-American border. Brazos Films produced two other movies, Del Mero Corazon (1979), which showcases Tejano love songs; and J’ai ‘Ete’ Au Bal (1989), which focuses on Louisiana French Cajun and Creole music.

During the Bay Side Distributing era, Tower Records was 60 percent of the company’s business. But as New Age music gained in popularity (a genre Strachwitz has labeled as “watered down Yuppie drivel”),[46] he saw the handwriting on the wall and soon sold the distribution firm. However he maintained Arhoolie Records and its international distribution, as well as the Down Home Music Store.

For the past two decades, Strachwitz has spent his time re-editing the Arhoolie catalog and making CDs out of the original tapes. While he continues to seek out new music to record, he admits that it isn’t easy to find “music I really like and consider of special merit.”[47] He is well aware of the highly competitive nature of the industry and the changes that easily downloaded music has made to the economics of the business. He has written, “I have always been more interested in documenting fine authentic, down home music, instead of heavily promoting just one or two artists.”[48]

Status and Recognition

Chris Strachwitz has been said to be “the outsider who became the ultimate cultural insider.”[49] The music he heard welcomed him into unknown places, with unknown people. However, unlike some immigrants who arrive in the U.S. with nothing but the clothes on their backs, Strachwitz had an advantage. Although he had been a refugee when he left Europe, he came from prosperous ancestries. “I am still considered a count when I go back to see family [in Germany],” he has said.[50] And although he and his family arrived in the U.S. without their fortunes, he was part of an established family, with a great-grandfather who was a wealthy politician. This may have allowed him to assimilate more easily, and it afforded him entrée into a prestigious private boarding school and into college. Yet it wasn’t his formal education that drove his entrepreneurial spirit. It was his personal passion for Americana music.

He never gave up on that passion. He was known as El Fanatico, the man who wanted to “hear every song, know every story, bought every record he could get his hands on.” Over the years Strachwitz has received numerous recognitions for his work in the industry, particularly for the promotion of artists that otherwise wouldn’t have a voice.[51]

In 1993, Strachwitz was given a lifetime achievement award for his role in preserving the blues, and he has been recognized by the National Association of Independent Record Distributors and Manufacturers as well as Billboard.[52] He also founded the Arhoolie Foundation, which he established to “document, preserve, present and disseminate authentic traditional and regional vernacular music.”[53] The foundation has received Strachwitz’s personal music collection of over seventeen thousand Mexican-American 78 rpm discs, over twenty-five thousand 45 rpm discs, and over four thousand LP or 33 1/3 rpm albums spanning more than one hundred years. It is said to be the most comprehensive repository of Mexican vernacular music anywhere.[54] In 1995 the Foundation received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to digitize the Arhoolie Frontera Collection of vintage Mexican and Mexican American vernacular recordings. Initially, the project was sponsored by the Los Tigres del Norte Foundation who gave $500,000 to the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) to fund the project.[55] Strachwitz has said, “The foundation has been my main focus in the last 15 years since the whole record business has gone down the drain. But I’ve found this a wonderful thing to do in life and I hope that future generations will be gaining from what I have preserved and collected.”[56]

Arhoolie recordings have been recognized numerous times with Grammy Awards and nominations for its artists. These include blues and folk musician Elizabeth Cotton (1895-1987), who won the 1985 Grammy for “Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording.”[57] Accordionist Flaco Jiménez won a Grammy Award in 1986 for his Arhoolie recording, Ay Te Dejo en San Antonio y Más! In 2002, Elijah Wald won a Grammy for his liner notes on The Arhoolie Records 40th Anniversary Box: The Journey of Chris Strachwitz. The Arhoolie label was honored with two Grammy nominations for Hear Me Howling! Blues, Ballads & Beyond As Recorded By The San Francisco Bay. Adam Machado won in the category of Best Liner Notes. And in 2014, long-time Arhoolie artist, Zydeco accordionist Clifton Chenier, earned a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Additional recognition that Strachwitz has received throughout the years include the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Folk Alliance International (1997); inductee in the Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame (1999); a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (2000), and the Jack Emerson Lifetime Achievement Award for Executive by Americana Music Association (2013).[58]

In 2013, two filmmakers released a biographical documentary about Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie called “This Ain’t No Mouse Music!” Chris Simon and Maureen Gosling traveled in Strachwitz’s footsteps, tracking down some of Arhoolie’s early artists. It premiered at the SXSW Film Festival and has now been theatrically distributed. [59]

Also that year, The Arhoolie Foundation’s publication, Introduction and Guide to the Frontera Collection of Mexican and Mexican American Recordings won three awards at the 2013 International Latino Book Awards. The publication was recognized as First Place in Best History, First Place in Best Reference Book, and Second Place in Best Non-Fiction, Multi-Author.[60]

Conclusion

Chris Strachwitz has spent a lifetime pursuing the passion that he discovered as a teenage refugee listening to American music over Armed Forces airwaves. His particular curiosity in Americana music—from jazz and blues, to Zydeco and Cajun, to jug bands and Tejano, to Yiddish and Hawaiian—has produced opportunities for himself and for musicians. By struggling to build a business that had limited potential for riches, he has developed a richness beyond monetary wealth with his contributions to American culture. By all accounts, he has rescued genres that were on the verge of being lost.[61] He has said that developing a library of Americana music for generations to enjoy has been his singular goal. And perhaps it took someone with a fresh view of America to appreciate the extraordinary value in the country’s heritage. As Chris has stated, “Old records contain the culture of the people who made [them]. It gives me great pleasure to be able to share these sounds.”[62]

As of November 2014, Chris Strachwitz was living in Berkeley, California.

Notes

[1] William Addams Reitwiesner, “Ancestry of Chris Strachwitz,” (accessed October 31, 2014).

[2] María Herrara-Sobek, Celebrating Latino Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Cultural Traditions (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2012): 1050.

[3] For more on New Orleans, see “New Orleans (1947)," IMBD.com (accessed October 31, 2014).

[4] “El Cerrito-Based Arhoolie Records Gets Grammy Recognition of American Roots Music,” CBS SF Bay Area (February 12, 2012).

[5] Alec Wilkinson, “Good Howls,” The New Yorker (February 26, 2013) (accessed November 1, 2014).

[6] Reitwiesner, “Ancestry.”

[7] Adam Machado, Hear Me Howling! Blues, Ballads, and Beyond as Recorded by Chris Strachwitz in the 1960s (El Cerrito, CA: Arhoolie, 2010). Personal conversation between C. Strachwitz and Carla Garner (“the author”) on September 11, 2014.

[8] Wilkinson, “Good Howls.”

[9] Larry Beniecewicz, “Chris Strachwitz and the Arhoolie Story: Part 1: The Early Years.” Blues Art Journal, (1999).

[10] After a number of years and much legal work, Friederike’s American inheritance was returned, according to C. Strachwitz in a personal conversation with the author on September 11, 2014.

[11] “Alumni Spotlight – Chris Strachwitz ’51,” Cate School. And in a personal conversation between C. Strachwitz and the author on September 11, 2014.

[12] For more on Louis “Kid Shots” Madison, see Eugene Chadbourne, “Louis ‘Kid Shots’ Madison," AllMusic. For more on Bunk Johnson, see Scott Yanow, “Bunk Johnson,” AllMusic,  (both websites accessed October 31, 2014).

[13] Ibid.

[14] Personal conversation between C. Strachwitz and the author, September 11, 2014. For more on George Lewis, see Scott Yanow, “George Lewis,” AllMusic (accessed October 31, 2014).

[15] Steve Cushing, Pioneers of the Blues Revival (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2014), 324-326.

[16] Beniecewicz, Part I.

[17] Ibid.

[18] These were “78s” or flat disc records that played at a speed around 78 revolutions per minute. See Suzanne Mudge and D.J. Hoek, “Describing Jazz, Blues, and Popular 78 RPM Sound Recordings: Suggestions and Guidelines,” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 29.3 (2001): 21-48.

[19] Ted Fox, Into the Groove: The People Behind the Music, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986): 273.

[20] Larry Beniecewicz, “Chris Strachwitz and the Arhoolie Story: Part 2: In the Field.” Blues Art Journal, (1999).

[21] From a personal conversation between C. Strachwitz and the author, September 11, 2014.

[22] Beniecewicz, Part 1.

[23] Beniecewicz, Part 2.

[24] “Alumni Spotlight – Chris Strachwitz ’51,” Cate School.

[25] Fox, 259-260.

[26] Opal Louis Nations, “The Jaxyson Record Story: Blues and Gospel from Oakland’s Black Broadway,” Blues and Rhythm Magazine 216 (February 2007): 12-16.

[27] For Bob Pinson’s memories of Chris Strachwitz, see Marshall Wyatt, “’The Music Has Always Held Sway,’ An Interview with Bob Pinson,” The Old-Time Herald 6:4 (Summer 1998) (accessed November 11, 2014).

[28] For more on Black Ace, see Katherine Walters “Turner, Babe Kyro Lemon [Black Ace],” Handbook of Texas Online, published by the Texas State Historical Association. For more on Melvin Jackson, see Bill Dahl, “Melvin “Lil’ Son” Jackson,” AllMusic.com. For more on Mance Lipscomb, see John Minton, "Lipscomb, Mance," Handbook of Texas Online, published by the Texas State Historical Association (accessed October 31, 2014).

[29]About Us,” Arhoolie Records (accessed October 31, 2014). For more on Robert “Mack” McCormick, see Michael Hall, “Mack McCormick Still Has the Blues,” Texas Monthly (April 2002).

[30] Fox, 268.

[31]Folkways Records,” Smithsonian Folkways (accessed October 31, 2014).

[32] Chris Strachwitz, “About Us: The History of Arhoolie Records,” Arhoolie Records (accessed October 31, 2014).

[33] Ibid.

[34] Beniecewicz, Part 2.

[35] Beniecewicz, Part 2.

[36] Fox, 267-268.

[37] Greg Cahill, “For The Record: CD Box Set Spotlights Label Chief,” Metroactive (November 16, 2000). For more on Michael Doucet, see Mark A. Humphrey, “Michael Doucet,” AllMusic. For more on Flaco Jiménez, see Mark Deming, “Flaco Jiménez,” AllMusic (all websites accessed October 31, 2014).

[38] Fox, 268-271.

[39] Fox, 271.

[40] “About Us,” Arhoolie Records.

[41] Beniecewicz, Part 2.

[42] Personal conversation between C. Strachwitz and the author, September 11, 2014.

[43] For more on Flaco Jiménez, see American Roots Music, “Flaco Jiménez,” Public Broadcasting System. For more on Lydia Mendoza, see NPR Music, “Lydia Mendoza, Queen of Tejano,” National Public Radio (both websites accessed October 31, 2014).

[45] “Rag Radio 2013-03-15 – Arhoolie Records Founder Chris Strachwitz and Filmmakers Maureen Gosling & Chris Simon Rag Radio with Thorne Dryer,” Internet Archive.

[46] Larry Beniecewicz, “Chris Strachwitz and the Arhoolie Story: Part 3: Branching Out.” Blues Art Journal, (1999).

[47] Chris Strachwitz, “About Us: The History of Arhoolie Records,” Arhoolie Records (accessed October 31, 2014).

[48] Ibid.

[49] Chris Strachwitz et al., And They All Played For Us (El Cerrito, CA: Arhoolie, 2012).

[50] Wilkinson, “Good Howls.”

[51] Ibid.

[52] Ibid.

[53]About Us,” The Arhoolie Foundation (accessed October 31, 2014).

[54] Agustin Gurza, “In a Mexico Groove,” Los Angeles Times (February 1, 2005).

[56]Chris Strachwitz (Arhoolie) on Preserving Records,” National Recording Preservation Foundation (November 11, 2013) (accessed October 31, 2014).

[57] For more on Elizabeth Cotton, see “Elizabeth Cotton: master of American Folk Music,” Smithsonian Folkways (accessed October 31, 2014).

[58] To learn more see, “Lifetime Achievement Awards, FolkAlliance.org; “Hall of Fame,”; “NEA National Heritage Fellowships”; “Recipient Archive” (all websites accessed October 31, 2014).

[59] To learn more, see NoMouseMusic.com (accessed October 31, 2014).

[60] Kirk Whisler, “Latino Literacy Now’s International Latino Book Awards" (accessed October 31, 2014).

[61] Fox, 264.

[62]Chris Strachwitz (Arhoolie) on Preserving Records,” National Recording Preservation Foundation (November 11, 2013)  (accessed October 31, 2014).

 

Cite this Entry

APA Style

"Chris Strachwitz." (2017) In Immigrant Entrepreneurship, Retrieved February 28, 2017, from Immigrant Entrepreneurship: http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=225

Chicago Style

Garner, Carla and Benjamin Brady. "Chris Strachwitz." In Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 5, edited by R. Daniel Wadhwani. German Historical Institute. Last modified May 06, 2015. http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=225

MLA Style

"Chris Strachwitz," Immigrant Entrepreneurship, 2017, Immigrant Entrepreneurship. 28 Feb 2017 <http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=225>

Chris Strachwitz, founder and guiding spirit of Arhoolie records, at his Down Home Music store in Richmond, California on January 13, 2011

  • Texas Bluesman Mance Lipscomb with Chris Strachwitz, 1960
  • Record Producer Chris Strachwitz on location in New Orleans, n.d
  • Wilson Savoy and Jon Bertrand of the Cajun band The Pine Leaf Boys
  • Poster for the 1947 film <em>New Orleans</em>

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