Adam Machado Named Arhoolie Foundation Executive Director

The Arhoolie Foundation is pleased to introduce Adam Machado as its Executive Director. A longtime writer, editor, and producer with Arhoolie Records, Machado has served on the Arhoolie Foundation Board of Directors since 2009.

Adam Machado in front of Chris Strachwitz's Down Home Music Store in El Cerrito, CA
Adam Machado in front of Down Home Music Store in El Cerrito, CA. Photo by Haley Ausserer-Zelaya.

During his tenure at Arhoolie Records, Machado won a Grammy for his book Hear Me Howling! Blues, Ballads & Beyond, and co-wrote the Grammy-nominated They All Played for Us: Arhoolie Records 50th Anniversary Celebration with legendary Arhoolie Records founder Chris Strachwitz. He produced the albums Smoky Babe: Way Back in the Country Blues and Papa Lemon: New Orleans Ukulele Maestro & Tent Show Troubadour, shedding light on little-known artists with unique southern regional styles. Among his liner notes credits are the soundtrack to This Ain’t No Mouse Music; The Best of Mance Lipscomb; and Mississippi Records’ Fred McDowell: The Alan Lomax Recordings, which he co-wrote with Lomax Archive curator Nathan Salsburg.

Between 2005-2006, Machado digitized and catalogued the first iteration of the Harry Oster Collection of Field Recordings. More recently, he engaged in Foundation fundraising and strategic planning, and was instrumental in transitioning Arhoolie Records to its new home at Smithsonian Folkways.

For many years Machado worked closely with renowned labor historian Archie Green, and he is a Board Member for the Archie Green Fund for Labor Culture and History. A Massachusetts native, he received his Bachelor of Arts in English, Music, and Folklore from the University of Pennsylvania where he studied with prominent folklorist Roger Abrahams.

“What sets Adam apart is his years of experience with vernacular music and musicians,” says Board Member Laura Littlefield. “His personal dedication to and passion for the music, and its archival preservation and dissemination, is largely unmatched in our culture. It gives his work a depth you can’t get in someone outside this field.”

Board Member Mike Kappus adds, “Adam had proven himself to be the natural choice as executive director of the Arhoolie Foundation well in advance of his taking on the role with the unanimous support of the board. Adam possesses an in-depth understanding of the genres involved, and of the specific music and history of Arhoolie. All of this is aided by a close and priceless relationship with Chris Strachwitz for some years now. Combining this with Adam’s ability to objectively analyze challenges and projects, reach out and involve others and see the way forward, the future looks bright for the Arhoolie Foundation under his direction and I think the entire board shares that sentiment.”

In his new role as Executive Director, Machado plans to continue the Foundation’s critical digital preservation projects while expanding community and educational outreach, curating exhibits, developing public programming, and providing direct support to artists and others who are devoted to keeping vernacular music traditions alive.

He states, “Music made with traditional style or regional nuance is still very much happening  and in need of continued support. Personal pride, cultural belonging, historical perspective, neighborly kinship — not to mention good time spent  — are just a few of the rewards associated with performing or simply enjoying music rooted in community.

“We want to find new ways to help musicians, teachers, students, documentarians, scholars, and fans connect to the deep history of this varied and ever-evolving music. In that spirit, we will continue to share our collections as broadly as possible, taking special care to reach places where the music originated and still resonates today. Let’s take these historical treasures out of the archive and into the neighborhood.”

Littlefield notes: “Although Adam has worked closely with Chris Strachwitz for years, he understands that [the Arhoolie Foundation] isn’t just about Chris. He has a focus on paying forward what Chris built, keeping the work vibrant, alive, and engaged in the continued creation of vernacular music as well as its preservation.”


About the Arhoolie Foundation

The Arhoolie Foundation documents, preserves, presents, disseminates, and celebrates regional roots music and its makers. By our activities we seek to broaden public awareness of our diverse music history, support the vitality of living vernacular traditions, and help reinforce the value and sustainability of community-based cultures.


Comments (8)

Good luck, with your very important work, can’t wait to see what’s coming round the corner.

I wonder if I can order my Arhoolie CD from Smithsonian Folkways. Don’t really know how! Please enlighten me!

Thanks and Congratulations!

Alice Stuart

Working with David Seubert at UCSB Library Special Collections digitization projects.

Adam is exactly the right person for this very big and essential role. He understands in a way that few non-practitioners do, in the way that only Alan Lomax, Charlie Seeger and a handful of others have grasped the depth and breadth of our cultural mosaic. He’s a cultural warrior who will not fail to defend the embattled values we cherish. Hurray for Adam!! love, Barbara

Congratulations Adam!! Congratulations Arhoolie!! Adam is the perfect person for the job to build upon and expand the critical work of the Foundation and Chris Strachwitz.

Hey Adam, just wanted to contact you and let you know how proud I am of you and your professional and personal progress since we’ve last seen each other. Best always, Paul