A Year-End Letter from Chris Strachwitz

Dear Friends of the Arhoolie Foundation,

In light of the horrific tragedies which have befallen so many fellow Californians as well as people around the world this year, you probably have already given hard-earned money to your favorite charities. But in case you still feel generous, I would like to tell you about a few of the wonderful things the Arhoolie Foundation has been accomplishing.

Our most recent event was a fundraiser called Bridging The Blues with the legendary Taj Mahal and rising star Fantastic Negrito held at Berkeley’s UC Theatre. We had a packed house with an amazingly enthusiastic audience, and gave out four inaugural Arhoolie Awards (we call them Hoolies!) to deserving individuals, organizations, and a journalist.

We have added thousands of songs from the Frontera Collection of Mexican and Mexican-American recordings as videos on our YouTube channel! Fans of this music can now listen to entire songs rather than brief clips. So far we have uploaded 16,000 complete selections, and we are adding ninety-nine more every day with a goal of sharing all 34,000 78rpm recordings in the Frontera Collection by June 2019.

We are continuing to digitally preserve our archives, not only of the Frontera Collection but also previously unheard recordings made by Dr. Harry Oster, and thousands of photographs and videos I shot over the years both at home in the Bay Area and on my song-catching travels in Louisiana, Texas, and beyond! We performed outreach in the community through events and speaking engagements, and assisted with the creation of the Arhoolie Records exhibit now open at SFO Museum.

With our new Executive Director Adam Machado at the helm, in the coming year we will continue to broaden our community outreach, curate and share our collections, and develop new ways to support musicians, teachers, students, documentarians and others devoted to vernacular music.

I’d love you to share this letter with your friends and acquaintances, especially if they enjoy real and tradition-based music. 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 contributions tax-deductible!

You can donate directly through PayPal, or by mail:
Arhoolie Foundation
10341 San Pablo Ave.
El Cerrito, CA 94530

Wishing you a cheerful and enjoyable holiday season,
Chris Strachwitz

Photo of Chris Strachwitz by Mike Melnyk
Photo of Mr. Chris by Mike Melnyk









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Comments (3)


I’m sure you will appreciate that I can’t donate, because I don’t have any damn money, and it’s because I’ve spent much of what little I did have on records that your company manufactured. On top of that, I have been so captivated by them that I have learned many of the songs off various ones and use them in my so-called act, which nets me tens of dollars.I promise, I’ll send som when I got some.

Thanks for your work, Chris! I will try to give if I can. I love the Blues…tortured my wife (German…lol) on our honeymoon with two straight nights at Legends in Chicago. I am in Schweinfurt, Germany…retired from the US Army in 2012. I met some of your family in Gotha a few years back…had a blast! It was a going away party for the Bundeswehr unit going to Afghanistan and we were invited to attend. Anyway, thanks for your lasting contributions to some fantastic music!

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.