“Since many people think that records are very profitable, let me try to present to you some of the facts.” So wrote Chris Strachwitz in his lively introduction to Arhoolie Occasional Number 1, a remarkable behind-the-scenes guide to Arhoolie Records and the wider world of folk and blues music. Published in 1971, the short-lived Occasional was a music lover’s dream. Brimming with original articles by Chris and reprints from Rolling Stone, Broadside, Time, and a host of local papers, the 19-page publication is both an insider’s guide to the record business and a travelogue into the lives and music of Arhoolie’s signature artists. From Chris’s explainer “What’s Involved in Making Arhoolie LP’s” to colorful profiles of Mance Lipscomb and John Jackson, to a guide entitled “How to Hire Blues Artists,” the Occasional packed enough information in its pages to keep even the most diehard Arhoolie fan busy. Best of all might be Chris’s description of the “down-home” music he loved: “It’s the music you hear at beer joints, taverns, dance halls, picnics, weddings, fiestas, in homes, in churches, and wherever people gather naturally to worship life with all its joys and pains.”

In honor of Chris’s 91st birthday, we invite you to explore the newly digitized Arhoolie Occasional Number and all the wonderful stories inside it. 

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Statement on the passing of Chris Strachwitz

Arhoolie Records Founder
July 1, 1931 – May 5, 2023

We celebrate the life of our founder, friend, and great record man Chris Strachwitz. He died peacefully at home in Marin County, CA, surrounded in his last days by dear friends and family. Over his 91 years, Chris captured the music that represents the best “down home music” the world has to offer.

He was at the forefront of nearly all the roots revivals over the last 60 years including blues, zydeco, Cajun, Norteño and Tejano music. His drive to document traditional music helped introduce the nation to our diverse musical heritage. He had the foresight to save music that might have otherwise been lost to obscurity and played a role in strengthening cultural traditions through his records, films, and most recently the Arhoolie Foundation. He cared for those around him, fought for royalties and recognition for Arhoolie artists, and provided counsel to countless musicians, writers, film makers, and academics.

Plans for a public celebration of his life will be announced in the coming weeks. Today we’re thinking of all that Chris brought to our lives and the lives of the musicians and fans with whom he shared his passion.