Phil Carreon


(This one is iconic)

My Grandpa Phil was on tour with his band, Phil Carreón and His Orchestra (there are many iterations of this band name, but I believe this was the one he was touring). They toured the southern half of the United States — through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and even further East. They traveled to Louisiana for a gig, and my Grandpa showed up with his band for sound check. Everything was going according to plan, until the owner of the club told my grandfather that they wouldn’t let one of his main trumpet players into the venue or play the show that night because he was Black.

My grandpa tried to reason with the club owner. He was always an ace at that. There were few people who, after a conversation with my grandpa, remained angry about a situation or at odds with him. He was excellent at winning people over — a master at de-escalation. He was charming, genuine, and friendly, and just one of those people everyone liked.

Except this time. The club owner resisted a tree’s worth of olive branches my grandpa extended to get his bandmate to play that night. For context, my grandfather built his band’s entire Latin Jazz sound around a hard-hitting big brass section. It was his signature. It’s what made his Orquesta and various other bands different from the rest. The absence of a trumpet player was a sucker punch to the face.

My grandpa huddled his band and told them the news. They were pissed and wanted to boycott the show, but my grandpa had a different plan in mind.

Their set time rolled around and the band took the stage like normal. As if nothing happened. As soon as the curtain rolled up, the band turned around and started performing the opening song with their backs to the crowd in protest of the racist club owner.

I’m not sure if they finished the set, but realistically, they didn’t. Realistically, the band probably had to book it out of there because, well…standing up to racism is hardly ever peaceful, especially as a young, proud Chicano in the ‘40s. But he believed in honor and protesting racism, especially for his friends. It’s stories like this that make him a legend.

Biography provided by: Mary Carreon- Granddaughter of Phil Carreon


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.