Posts Tagged ‘folk music’

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Frontera Collection Project Awarded NEH Grant

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded the Arhoolie Foundation a three-year $265,000 grant to continue our efforts to digitally preserve and create access to the Frontera Collection of Mexican and Mexican American Recordings. This generous award will allow us to digitize an additional 24,000 recordings, originally captured on 12,000 45-rpm discs, and deliver them to UCLA to be deposited in the digital library system and added to a searchable online database already available to the public.

The NEH has designated this grant a We The People project. We The People is an NEH program recognizing efforts to encourage and enhance the teaching, study, and understanding of American history, culture, and democratic principles. We are honored by the distinction, and excited by the possibilities this grant creates. Still, we remain in urgent need of support. $66,000 of the total award is matching, which means that in order to receive it we need to raise that same amount from non-federal sources. We welcome ideas as to how we can raise those matching funds, and of course, in the words of our late dear friend Archie Green: All donations gratefully received.

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Arhoolie in the news: “Corrido Heaven”

Here’s a bit from Lawrence Downes’ feature article, “In Los Angeles, Songs Without Borders,” from the Travel section of this Sunday’s New York Times (August 16, 2009):

“In clubs, bars, swap meets and concert halls, from car radios and ringing cellphones, you will hear corridos, old-time folk ballads in the banda and norteño styles. ‘Corridos are part of the literature of the common people,’ wrote Chris Strachwitz, who founded Arhoolie Records and has spent a lifetime collecting and studying traditional Mexican music.”

And this a little further down:

“For armchair travelers, Arhoolie Records ( has a vast corrido catalog. You can also explore the Frontera Collection ( to which Chris Strachwitz, the head of Arhoolie, donated tens of thousands of 78 and 45 r.p.m. records. The collection is being digitized and made available to the public online, which can put you in corrido heaven for years and years to come.”

Find the whole article, some musical example and a slideshow here:

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Mike Seeger: 8/17/1933 – 8/7/2009

Our good friend Mike Seeger passed away Friday evening August 9th. Through his love for traditional music, he spent his life educating us, inspiring us, entertaining us and sharing that love of the music. We will miss him.

When Mike went into hospice Chris Strachwitz, founder of Arhoolie Records and the Arhoolie Foundation, wrote Mike a letter. Here is an excerpt:

“You should be satisfied and proud of the fact that you have contributed immeasurably in your life time to the love for old time and traditional vernacular musics of all kinds and their continuing evolutions. Not only did you play and sing and bring these styles to thousands who not only enjoyed your personal versions but were moved to dig deeper into the various genres. But you also shared your ability to present the music to wider audiences by taking so many regional and isolated musicians under your wing, or as in the case of Libba Cotton, even bringing them out of the hidden shadows of just singing for themselves – and thus passing on the whole experience of hearing, meeting, and seeing so many other remarkable human beings as well as their often totally unique music and style.

You also created not only this incredible musical family but your very own as well – I really don’t see how you did it all? And then on top of that your strong voice at Newport and at the National Endowment for the Arts – as an activist and advocate for the real stuff – something so many of the big names in so called “folk music” never bothered with or never felt was even warranted. You and Archie (Green, noted folklorist who also recently passed away) have fought this battle brilliantly and successfully to the best of your ability. What more can a human do? On top of all that you somehow survived economically in this dog eat dog world and with your wonderful, relaxed and peaceful personality influenced more folks in the righteousness of your and our common cause.

Then there is the amazing documentary work you have done from interviewing record execs like Frank Walker to being “song catcher” – a phrase I shall always fondly ascribe to you – but even without the usual economic aspect which could conceivably help you gain financially – as I did and many others who were stuck as non musicians but trying to capture the music of the moment!”

Excerpted from a personal letter from Chris Strachwitz to Mike Seeger, used with Chris’ permission.

Here is a link to a well informed obituary:

Visit this superb photo memorial to Mike taken by wonderful photographer Mike Melnyk

To learn more about Mike Seeger, visit the website. Mike Seeger – Music from the True Vine.

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Mike Seeger in hospice.

Sad news: Mike Seeger, who has been battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma for a number of years, has now developed a new, unusually aggressive form of cancer, called multiple myeloma. About a week ago, he made the decision to discontinue treatment and is at home with his wife and family, receiving hospice care. Cards can be send to him care of his booking agency:

Folklore Productions
1671 Appian Way
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Squeeze Box Stories funding

The California Council for the Humanities awarded a $40,000 grant for the California Stories: California Documentary Project proposal “Squeezebox Stories.” This will fund a radio documentary by project directors Julie Caine and Marié Abe exploring the stories and rich traditions of the accordion in California’s diverse cultural landscape. “Squeezebox Stories is a sound-rich, narrative-driven public radio documentary that explores the social history, multicultural adaptation, and musical variation of this eclectic, loud, and portable people’s instrument.”