“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.