A 2019 Year End Letter From Chris


Chris Strachwitz
Chris Strachwitz
photo © Mike Melnyk

December 19, 2019

Dear Friends,

It has been a busy year for the Arhoolie Foundation. We head into 2020 with lots of plans to continue documenting and celebrating all the fine music we love in common. I’d like to share with you some of what we have been up to this year, and a few of our plans for 2020. We would be grateful if you would consider making a last minute charitable donation to support our ongoing work.

On November 22, we held our Second Annual Arhoolie Awards and Benefit Concert at The Chapel in San Francisco, with performances from Elvin Bishop, the Cultural Heritage Choir, and the Sons of the Soul Revivers. It was an extraordinary night of music, and we were pleased to present Arhoolie Awards (‘Hoolies) to three exceptional recipients: Linda Tillery, Cedric Watson, and Ashkenaz Music & Dance Community Center. I was also happy to present Elvin Bishop with the 2019 Chris Strachwitz Legacy Award.

We have now uploaded all 34,000 78-rpm recordings in the Frontera Collection to our YouTube Channel, and we’ve started adding the 45s. Nearly 100 new recordings are added every day, so visit often! We have had over 5.32 million views and 6500 subscribers.

We are continuing to digitally preserve our archives, including rare field recordings, photographs, recorded interviews, posters and other treasures. We will be sharing a lot of this material through our newly designed website, as well as through public exhibits like this year’s The Blues According to Arhoolie at the Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis, TN.

Here are some of our goals for 2020:

  • Put on more live events showcasing roots music traditions
  • Complete the digital preservation of the Chris Strachwitz Photo Collection
  • Digitize 8000 more recordings from the Frontera Collection
  • Upload over 20,000 45-rpm recordings to our Frontera Collection YouTube Channel
  • Create a traveling exhibit on Mexican American life in California as documented on records
  • Launch an original podcast series featuring Arhoolie music and stories
  • Support tradition-based artists, educators, and organizations with the Arhoolie Awards

We are grateful to many of you who have generously supported us in the past and hope you can help us out again before the end of the year – remember we are an educational 501c(3) non-profit which makes your contribution tax-deductible!

Wishing you a cheerful and enjoyable holiday season,

Chris Strachwitz

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Comments (9)

Hello, (I also sent this message via email)
I am an Acadian-Canadian artist. I am writing to inquire about usage of Harry Choates’ Devil in the Bayou. In 2009, I created the videotape Downunder before visiting Australia. For the audio, I remixed a portion of the song Devil in the Bayou to work with the visuals of doing handstands under water. I posted a credit for the song on the video.

Here is the link to my vimeo page with the video.

While my work is not created under a non-profit, they do not normally generate financial return, but I am sometimes invited to present in schools and at galleries. I now have the opportunity to publish a book with references to 30 years of artist videos created by myself and my partner. The book will be presented through the Small Walker Press, Brock University, Saint Catherine’s, Ontario, Canada in April of this year.

If I am able to use the song and provide credit for the source, I will include the references and link to the video in the book. I have written before but did not hear back. I hope that you will be able to answer my inquiry.

– Valerie LeBlanc
Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

I’m so grateful for all your work! Your dedication is extraordinary. I know you worked with my grandfather, Bill Holford. I’m certain that he’d be so thrilled to see what you’re doing if he were still around! Keep on keepin’ on! ? ? ?

Please pass this letter to:
To Mr. Chris Strachwitz

Dear Mr. Strachwitz,
In retrospect I should have written to you long time ago. I’m 73 and very often I’m thinking about my life. It could be different but I’m happy my life tracks went this way. It was the blues road, exciting mysterious and very natural. There was a day in 1970 when I’ve got that parcel of gold. It was unbelievable. I was living in communist country, behind the iron curtain. A lot of things were unavailable to me. No blues records, no music books, no press. And suddenly you sent me those 25 vinyl albums of ARHOOLIE RECORDS recordings. I was in shock. For the occasion I had a special meeting and a conversation in special department. They asked me who sent me this, what kind of relation it is, what I want to do with those records, to sell them etc.
For me, that parcel was like a brand new start, like turning point. I was writing for Jazz monthly magazine and I had my radio shows in Radio Poznań. I still broadcast blues there. But the blues came to me at last in full dimension with those fantastic records. Thank you very much once again. And this was the moment I devoted my life to music and specially to the blues. I studied sound producing and then journalism. I spent a lot of time in the studio, recording local pop and rock artists. But I envied you always, all those live recordings of Mance Lipscomb, Lightning Hopkins, Fred McDowell, Earl Hooker. But I’m happy that you gave me the chance to discover roots music of America. I specially tried my best to popularize blues in radio, writing articles and books, interviewing artists like B.B.King or Koko Taylor. In 2012 my article Arhoolie Records Story published in Twój Blues Magazine was named in readers poll Article Of The year. Twenty years ago I had a pleasure to meet you in Cannes, France when you came to Europe for MIDEM. You invited me for lunch with your European distributors. Thank you for those two hours.
You know I’m discovering my country of Poland now. I specially love the region you were born, Lower Silesia ( we call it Dolny Ślask), with those lovely hills and woods. I wish one day I will find the Gross Richenau (now Bogaczów) and the places of your childhood.
Today is a very noble day. I wish you all the best for your birthday, good health and many magic moments with the music you love.
With constant admiration Ryszard Gloger

Saludos cordiales y mis mejores deseos para que permanezcan contribuyendo a difundir la buena música. Quiero saber si pueden ayudarme encontrando autor y cantante de un viejo bolero que tengo grabado en un cassette. Gracias

Thanks for your great work/s ! Many blessings during this challenging time…
JOY Of Music will always abound.

los quiero felicitar por esa gran obra, hay unas de sus canciones que me gustaria poderlas publicar en mi canal si no hay inconveniente. Gracias

Thanks for all the wonderful LPs I was so fortunate to come across back in the ’80s. I was just in time for the Great Record Sell Off. Sad that you don’t make them any more, although I noticed Rounder are making them again 🙂

please pass this to Cris

Please pass this to Chris. We are classmates from Cate, 1951
Hi Chris
Time is short. Wouldlove to visit for a few minutes.
Thanks Bill 805 550 1514