The Arhoolie Records collection will be made available via the Smithsonian Folkways web site in October, 2016. Until then, you can find them here.

Chris Strachwitz moved to the United States from Germany in 1947 and fell in love with American roots music. His first love was New Orleans jazz, but radio broadcasts from Los Angeles and Baja California introduced him to hillbilly, rhythm & blues, gospel, Mexican norteño music and beyond. A major collector of 78s, Strachwitz travelled to Texas in 1959 to meet his idol Lightning Hopkins, and was lucky enough to hear him perform live in a small beer joint. Struck by the exchange between Lightning and his audience, and by the poetry of his improvised lyrics, Chris decided right then and there that someone had to capture this man's music live in one of those joints and put it on a record. The following year, Chris returned to Houston only to find Hopkins leaving for California, so he and Mack McCormick, his guide to all things Texas, ventured north out of the city to Navasota, where they encountered and recorded outstanding local songster Mance Lipscomb. A few months later, in November 1960, Arhoolie LP 1001 introduced Chris' new label and that small town Texas songster to the world. (An arhoolie is a field holler; the name was suggested by McCormick.) Over the next 55 years, Chris and Arhoolie Records put out over 350 albums. A passionate seeker of just the right music, Chris’s many recordings included Cajun, zydeco, norteño, bluegrass, gospel and blues. Regional forms like zydeco may have never had national exposure without Arhoolie. The Smithsonian acquired the Arhoolie label from Chris and his partner Tom Diamant in 2016 to assure that his recordings would survive and remain available to future generations.

A few recordings from Arhoolie Records.

  • Texas Songster by Mance Lipscomb Texas Songster Mance Lipscomb ARH00306 (1960/2000) Mance Lipscomb (1960) has been added to the Library of Congress 2013 National Recording Registry....

  • In Europe by Big Mama Thornton In Europe Big Mama Thornton ARHLP1028 (1966) Unlike the list of jazzy "Classic Blues Singers" headed by Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, the roster of down-home female blues singers is sadly very short...

  • I Wonder Where You Are Tonight by Del McCoury I Wonder Where You Are Tonight Del McCoury ARH09030 (1967/2002) The reigning king of bluegrass music's first recordings as a band leader. Del McCoury, who initially rose to fame as the singer in Bill Monroe's band...

  • Mercury Blues by K.C. Douglas Mercury Blues K.C. Douglas ARH00475 (1974/1998) A Mississippian whose country blues style helped form the postwar Oakland/West Coast blues scene....

  • Under A Green Oak Tree by Dewey Balfa, Marc Savoy & D.L. Menard Under A Green Oak Tree Dewey Balfa, Marc Savoy & D.L. Menard ARH00312 (1976/1989) The entire classic session from November 1976....

  • Bogalusa Boogie by Clifton Chenier Bogalusa Boogie Clifton Chenier ARH00347 (1976/1990) The GRAMMY Hall Of Fame was created to honor recordings of lasting qualitative or historical significance that are at least 25 years old....

  • El Sonido De San Antonio by Flaco Jiménez El Sonido De San Antonio Flaco Jiménez ARHLP3014 (1980) This LP best captures Jiménez' genius and the essence of the San Antonio sound....

  • Hot Chili Mama by Michael Doucet & Beausoleil Hot Chili Mama Michael Doucet & Beausoleil ARH05040 (1987) Like Los Lobos, Michael Doucet's Cajun rock and roll band, Beausoleil, has its roots deep in traditional music, but makes a very contemporary sound...

  • Gimme My Money Back by The Tremè Brass Band Gimme My Money Back The Tremè Brass Band ARH00417 (1995) The Tremè Brass Band plays the music of a people. The people in New Orleans who know how to celebrate life with a second line parade or mourn a person's death....

  • Reverend Louis Overstreet With His Sons and Congregation of St. Lukes Powerhouse Church of God in Christ With His Sons and Congregation of St. Lukes Powerhouse Church of God in Christ Reverend Louis Overstreet ARH00442 (1995) Born in 1947 near Lakeland, LA, Louis Overstreet began singing in gospel quartets at an early age....

  • Sweet Virginia by No Speed Limit Sweet Virginia No Speed Limit ARH00521 (2006) For an emerging traditionalist bluegrass band that represents the future of roots music, this quintet doesn't quite fit the mold, either....