Menu

Chris Strachwitz Interviewed by Roy Trumbull on KBRG

Chris Strachwitz has been many things – songcatcher, music publisher, author, filmmaker, but he is first and foremost a Record Man. Take a listen to a newly unearthed interview with Chris in 1964 as he describes capturing the indelible songs on those early Arhoolie records, upcoming releases, and what it takes to start a record company.

00:00
00:00
  • Chris Strachwitz Interviewed by Roy Trumbell on KBRG, 1964 00:00
Interviewee: Chris Strachwitz
Interviewer: Roy Trumbull
Date: 1964
Location: KBRG
Language: English

This is an interview originally recorded for research purposes. It is presented here in its raw state, unedited except to remove some irrelevant sections and blank spaces. All rights to the interview are reserved by the Arhoolie Foundation. Please do not use anything from this website without permission. info@arhoolie.org

Chris Strachwitz Interview Transcript:

Roy Trumbull:

[Music.] That is Mance Lipscomb, who opens tonight’s program, which we have entitled Arhoolie Records, and for rather good reason, that record is Arhoolie Record Number 1, and in the studio with us is Chris Strachwitz, who is the father of this record company, the originator. And Chris, the other day on the telephone, I asked you what Arhoolie meant, and would you repeat your answer?

Chris Strachwitz:

Well, as far as I can tell, it appears on a Library of Congress recording and I actually saw it once, but I don’t recall the exact way it was put there, but it appears that the Mr. Lomax, I think it was Alan Lomax in the early ’30s, recorded a fellow in Mississippi and upon asking him what does he call that thing? This guy apparently replied, “Well, that’s an arhoolie.” And so on the record, I believe it gives a title in parentheses, it says, ‘an arhoolie’, and in the notes it says that means a cornfield holler.

Roy Trumbull:

And now why did you decide to use it as the title for a record company?

Chris Strachwitz:

Well, when I started I mentioned a number of names that I thought of and this friend of mine, Mack McCormick in Houston, he suddenly came up with this. He said, “Have you heard of Arhoolie?” I said, “Ar- what?” He said, “Yeah, Arhoolie.” I said, “My goodness, that’s a strange name.” But anyway, I asked Paul Oliver later that same summer and he said, yes, he did hear of it and he thought it was kind of an appropriate name for a label. But at first I say, I was kind of horrified by it, but then I felt it’s kind of a unique name. It’s kind of intriguing and so it kind of stuck. I figured once people hear it, they’ll never forget it.

Roy Trumbull:

So, it’s been Arhoolie ever since. But of course, the thing that initially brought me in contact with you, which was by letter a year or so ago, is when I picked up a copy of the Mance Lipscomb recording that we just heard a cut from. And I was extremely impressed by the packaging and liner notes, I had never seen anything quite so beautiful. I think that probably still, as far as your albums are concerned, the Mance Lipscomb has never quite been equaled in the liner note department.

Chris Strachwitz:

I think that’s very true. I think Mack McCormick is as far as I’m concerned, the most outstanding authority should I say, or a person who can write about the music that he has dealt with. I think there are awful lot of people who perhaps know as much as he does, certainly I think Mr. Lomax does, but I don’t think anybody has achieved the feeling that Mack McCormick can put into his notes. And he has written a couple of others for me, he did the notes for the Unexpurgated Folk Songs of Men, which I don’t think that you could play over the air, but anyway, it’s also I think an excellent thing. And he’s done an article about that same subject in this magazine that’s coming out, this American Folk Music Occasional, which will be out by Christmas.

Roy Trumbull:

Well now, these are other operations that you’re involved in. I think we may as well when we get started here, before we go into all of the many records that you’ve released, let’s explore some of the other things you’re involved in, Chris. Aside from Arhoolie Records, you have a publication, I don’t know if it’s a media publication that I receive occasionally that lists various and sundry records that are available. And you have this American Folk Music Occasional, which has been talked about now for a year or so.

Chris Strachwitz:

It’s been very, very hard.

Roy Trumbull:

What’s the story on these two operations?

Chris Strachwitz:

Well, you see, it kind of all came up together. I taught high school for a while and that’s when I first put out my label, I was a high school teacher, but it seemed that more and more things piled up that people wanted to hear these artists and of course the artists wanted to be heard. So, it kind of was inevitable that I got into managing or let’s say booking of artists. And it really started when Barry Olivier asked Mance Lipscomb to not the first Berkeley Folk Festival, I forgot which one it was some years ago. And then last year at Monterey, Jimmy Lyons asked me to bring Reverend Overstreet and Mance Lipscomb. So, I got into promoting these artists and that really is all encompassing job. If you look at it, you don’t just sit down and try to find out who can hire them, but you also have to write articles about them and make their records available to people, to as many people as you can. And this is very difficult for a small company, because most distributors simply aren’t interested in a small selling line like mine. So, I’ve attempted to do it by mail order, that is make collectors around the world aware of the fact that these records exist. Not only mine, but there are a number of other labels like Origin Records and Piedmont Records and Delmar [later Delmark] Records and Folk-Lyric Records. Yeah. I think you probably know quite a few of them, I think you’ve played some of them.

Roy Trumbull:

Where do you draw your mailing list from, for this mailer you send out?

Chris Strachwitz:

Well, it’s basically from people who write in to me, who’ve heard by word of mouth, I guess, from others that the strange little company exists someplace out there in this box 5073 in Berkeley. Also, ever since the first record came out, I’ve had very good reviews in the Saturday Review and in DownBeat and Sing Out!, various other publications, The Little Sandy Review. And I guess people who’ve read that have written in. And I started out also with some strong, real old time collectors of 78s whose names I got out of some English publications. There are some collectors magazines over there. And so I started out with a kind of a list of collectors of real archaic 78s.

Roy Trumbull:

Well, now, have you had the craze for old time music and most of your life, or is this something-

Chris Strachwitz:

I guess ever since I came to this country in ’47, I came from Germany where I was born and raised. Well, even there I guess I always liked down home music, I like to call it. I used to enjoy it.

Roy Trumbull:

Now, what about your adventures into the publishing game with The American Folk Music Occasional, how did that happen?

Chris Strachwitz:

Well, actually it happened this way, that one day a friend of mine in Germany who I had corresponded with and who I knew had a printing establishment, his father anyway did, he wrote to me saying whether I had any kind of discographies that I wanted to publish. Discography is kind of a list of records or artists, what records they’ve made. And I said, “Well, I don’t have that, but how about doing a magazine?” Because for many, many years, I’d always felt very strongly that DownBeat does a good job covering jazz and Sing Out! kind of covers nicely the New York, New Folk scene, the protesting people. And there are a number of others, but there was really no magazine that in my opinion really covered the whole scene of what I called American folk music. And that’s, in my opinion, includes everything from hillbilly, and gospel, and early jazz, and well even contemporary jazz, to Texas Mexican music, and polka bands, and Lord knows what you know. I really felt there was a need for this to cover it all and I hope that there is an audience that’s willing to read about all these different types of music. Of course, the first issue will be very strongly on blues because that’s my specialty and well, hillbilly music, too. But I do hope that it will eventually cover all these other fields. It’s very hard to find good writers in those areas because they’re either very academic, or they’re very fan-like things. And it’s very hard to find people who really can put across what this music means to say- for example, Texas Mexicans, this current, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard that stuff, this accordion music with very strong bass tones backing it up. But anyway, I think all that stuff is just great and I think people around the world should know that it exists. This is really how I kind of look at it.

Roy Trumbull:

What is the composition of your first issue going be?

Chris Strachwitz:

Well, it has a great article by Mack McCormick is called “The damn Tinkers.” It’s all about how folklorists, who call themselves scientists or anyway, scholars, have really censored everything that they’ve ever collected. Because a huge part of our folklore is this unexpurgated material. And he, I think, gives a darn good argument as to why this is rather foolish.

Roy Trumbull:

Of course, this goes all the way back to Bobby Burns.

Chris Strachwitz:

Well, anyway, I think more people should think about this. And then it has pictorial of current blues singers, has a nice article… Well, on Mance Lipscomb, we reprinted the notes to the first album, because I feel that those deserve the broadest possible exposure. Well, I don’t really know if I have time to go into all of it. It has some articles on hillbilly music on how, for example, Carson Robison back in the ’20s created ballads just by the fact that they were selling. And he was told, come on, make some more. And it’s really quite amazing that’s a reprint out of an old I think Collier’s magazine, I found that. And gosh, I really can’t think of everything that’s in there right now, but I’d be happy to send anybody who’s interested a list of content.

Roy Trumbull:

When will the issue come out?

Chris Strachwitz:

Well, it’s going to come out I guess next month, but I’ll be in Europe. So, I’ll get it out by early part of November.

Roy Trumbull:

Early part of November.

Chris Strachwitz:

Middle part of November, it’ll be mailed out to everybody who’s ordered one, and I’ll try to get it out to the stores.

Roy Trumbull:

How often will you publish this? The title Occasional is…

Chris Strachwitz:

Yeah, this was Vera-Mae Fredrickson’s great idea, Mrs. Fredrickson, Dave’s wife and I think it’s a real good idea. As much as I wanted a publication that doesn’t have to come out every month or every two months, but rather whenever I feel that we have enough material to make a good issue, you see, and this is what I hope for. As soon as we get enough material to do the next one, fine, we’ll do it. And this fellow in Germany has been very nice about it. He’s footing the bill until we sell them. This of course was the big hurdle was the financial one. I mean, in order to put out something like that on my own, I would’ve needed something like $5,000.

Roy Trumbull:

What will the size of the publication be?

Chris Strachwitz:

It’s about 150 pages and-

Roy Trumbull:

Cram packed with…

Chris Strachwitz:

Yeah, it really is cram packed. I know it has kind of a stiff price on it, but I think it’s worthwhile.

Roy Trumbull:

So what is the price on it?

Chris Strachwitz:

On it’s $3, but I’d say it’s the only way we can make it.

Roy Trumbull:

Well, at two cents a page I don’t think you can go wrong. That’s a pretty good price considering you’re paying for a substantial magazine with really solid information. Yes. You’re not paying for a Dear Abby column or anything.

Chris Strachwitz:

That’s right. And this is something else that I plan to always make sure that it’s always material of lasting interest, that isn’t just current and then it’s out of date. It’s something that will always be of interest.

Roy Trumbull:

Well, Chris, moving back over to Arhoolie Records, I have a great big stack here sitting on the desk. Would you pick out number two and we’ll proceed from there?

Chris Strachwitz:

Well, number two is really one of my very favorite records. It’s Big Joe Williams, who I’m sure some of you have heard of, he was out here on the coast when I had a chance to make this record. He was unfortunately in some trouble out here in Oakland. Well, I can’t go into the details of that. He’s a very rough guy, he just hasn’t lived in this Lily-white society and has seen his troubles and turmoil. I think it’s one of the most emotional recordings I ever made. He had just gotten out of the Santa Rita prison, in Santa Rita and was supposed to come up to a hearing I guess the next week. But he disappeared shortly after I made these records. He called me one night and just said, “Hey, Mr. Chris.” And he said, “I want to make some records.” And I said, well, great because I’ve been looking for you for years. I’d never known where he was. And so he came down to Los Gatos, I was living down there at the time and he made those records that night. He plays a nine string guitar. He has the treble strings doubled, and the bass strings are single, and he plays them almost like these bass players with a mariachi band. Guys that pluck that bass string, well he does the same thing. If you want to put one on, I don’t know that. I don’t know. I don’t know which one to pick, since we got presidential things coming up, why don’t you put on “President Roosevelt”?

Roy Trumbull:

Okay. Very good. Big Joe Williams. [Music]. … recording for Arhoolie Records, the album entitled Tough Times, Arhoolie F 1002. We’re talking to the creator of Arhoolie Records, Chris Strachwitz. We’re going to get it figured out sooner or later. I never will learn German, Chris.

Chris Strachwitz:

That’s pretty close.

Roy Trumbull:

We’ve been on some blues now, let’s take a switch. You want to talk about this next album here?

Chris Strachwitz:

Well, I’ve always kind of liked hillbilly music ever since I came to this country, I heard a lot on the radio and a friend of mine, Bob Pinson lives down in Santa Clara, has one of the most incredible collections of hillbilly music. Has kind of reintroduced me to hillbilly music some couple of years ago, and then Mr. Lomax came out with that anthology of southern trips he took. And I remember there was one group on it that really absolutely got me. And that was J.E. Mainer’s Mountaineers. And of course I asked Bob Pinson if he had any idea where Mr. Mainer was, and he gave me an address in North Carolina. And when I came through there a couple of years ago, I looked in the phone book, and there it was, J. E. Mainer. So I just called him, and he said, “Yeah, come on over.” Well, he kind of likes his drink and he wasn’t in too good of shape when I first met him. Now he’s quite a character though. Maybe you met him last year when he was in Berkeley. Maybe you weren’t around then, but he’s really quite a guy, he’s used to the show business world of music.

Chris Strachwitz:

He’s been working on the radio ever since he was a little boy. He was born in the hills of North Carolina and found out him and his brother, Wade Mainer, who really perhaps was more famous in the old days when they made records for Bluebird, they’ve been on the radio ever since then down there in those parts. And they used to broadcast with The Crazy Water Crystals Company and they really got the whole scene that goes with hillbilly music, really that’s them. And so when I finally met them, I think I really got a beautiful record. We made it on one Sunday morning, the whole thing, they record 25 numbers, right? One after the other. I picked out the 12 best ones. And I think this is one of these real happy, extrovert kind of groups. Let’s hear. [Music].

Roy Trumbull:

J.E. Mainer’s Mountaineers, and that’s “Mississippi Sawyer.” And what’s the Arhoolie record number? You got it down there, Chris.

Chris Strachwitz:

That’s F 5002.

Roy Trumbull:

F 5002. We’re going to go to another type of band. I don’t know if, would you call this hillbilly?

Chris Strachwitz:

Well, this next music-

Roy Trumbull:

Is this a general classification, or…

Chris Strachwitz:

Well, it’s country music, but it’s called Cajun music.

Roy Trumbull:

Yeah, now there’s a very long, involved story that I have tried to present on various occasions as to what the meaning of Cajun is. And I figured that since we have somebody in the studio, who’s had a little more experience with this that you could give a…

Chris Strachwitz:

It’s just a mispronunciation actually of Acadians. You see the A-C, I guess it’s spelled Acadians, who came from Canada in I guess the middle of the 18th century. And they moved to Louisiana. And since people I guess couldn’t say Acadians, that sooner or later came out as Cajuns. See, the Cajuns. From Acadians, that became Cajuns.

Roy Trumbull:

There was a kind of a long involved business there with what was it, the French or the English that they had trouble with? Caused them to move out?

Chris Strachwitz:

They had trouble with the English. Those are basically French people who came over to Canada and settled there. And then when the English took over, the Acadians would not swear allegiance to the Crown, to the British Crown. And so the British governor apparently got more and more annoyed with them, and they were eventually told forced to leave Acadia, which is a province of Canada.

Roy Trumbull:

Now, where are most of these people settled?

Chris Strachwitz:

And they all settled in the Southern part of Louisiana around right around Crowley. And it’s called a Prairie of Louisiana. It’s not where piney woods in the Northern part of Louisiana, or even the central part is all piney woods. But the Acadians, they settled pretty much, I think they call it the Southwest Prairie of Louisiana. It’s if you take the highway from Houston, from Beaumont, Texas to Baton Rouge, you go right through it. Eunice, and Breaux Bridge, and Lafayette, and Sulphur, and all those places down there.

Roy Trumbull:

Well now, historically, where is this music? Is this in the straight tradition, or is this the prairie?

Chris Strachwitz:

No. Well, you see, like all music it changes and evolves as it is exposed to more outside influences. And of course we can only base what we call original on what we heard on records made in the ’20s, because that’s the first time that the material was put on wax. And we had Joe Falcón, if you want to play some of his later on from my Old Timey record, who apparently played it as far as we know in a very traditional manner, that’s as far as we know. The recorded part of is available to us. And so these fellows here, the Hackberry Ramblers, they were youngsters actually when Joe Falcón made his first records, they were very young. They were in their late teens. And so their music is more diluted, if I have to say that. I don’t think you can call it diluted, simply has changed.

Chris Strachwitz:

They’ve put in more hillbilly music, more of their own kind of thing. But however, I would say that they’re very representative of the kind of music you hear down there. I find them more interesting because they have a fiddle player. Most of the groups down there have nothing but accordion and steel guitars, and pretty much a kind of a Western swing type outfit, except for the accordion heavily featured. These guys still have a fiddle and they’re able to, like on this record, I asked them to do a number of things that they record way back in the early ’30s for Bluebird, which are much more, I hate to say this, more primitive or original or more traditional. But I think it’s all to me just as important because this kind of music just changes. And I don’t want to put any more emphasis on the earlier materials than I would on the more recent.

Roy Trumbull:

But this recording swings, doesn’t it?

Chris Strachwitz:

It really does. Yeah. I think it’s one of the most infectious types of music I’ve ever heard in my life. And apparently the Cajun band that was at the folk festival in Newport this year apparently made a big hit. A lot of the folkies who’d never heard of this kind of music apparently were really gassed by it, and I hope this group will come out to Berkeley next summer.

Roy Trumbull:

Okay. What are we going to take a listen to, Chris?

Chris Strachwitz:

Well, why don’t we use one of those that really became quite a seller down in Louisiana? I put it on as a single and it really was quite a hit down there. It was called “La Queue de Tortue,” or “Turtle Tail.”

Roy Trumbull:

Okay. Here they are. The Hackberry Ramblers. [Music.] That’s Arhoolie Record number F 5003. Tonight, our guest in the studio is Chris Strachwitz. I can’t say Chris, that’s the trouble, I can say your last name, but not the first one.

Chris Strachwitz:

Oh, well.

Roy Trumbull:

This is the problem this evening. And we’re looking through Arhoolie Records and we’ve got them all over the studio here. Next, we’re going to be going to a wild recording by Lightnin’ Sam Hopkins. So before we get into that officially, there’s something I want to ask you, Chris. And that is, would you explain what a pirate recording is, and why they’re so necessary to folk music aficionados?

Chris Strachwitz:

Well, I don’t know if you realize it or not, that of course the companies who have existed ever since the beginning of the recording business like Columbia, Victor, actually, those two are the main ones. Decca came in somewhat later, and Gennett of course, and Paramount also during the ’20s. Much of what I consider the real music of America from that period was recorded by those companies commercially, and they did a darn good job of it. They didn’t really care whether it was folk music or not, but I think perhaps you’ve heard the story.

Roy Trumbull:

Whatever sold.

Chris Strachwitz:

Whatever sold, and they found that this music sold to the people who lived in those parts of the country, where it was created. And so much of it was recorded, as I say, but it never really sold to the general public. That is, the people who buy Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley records. And so most of it has never been dug up again by those companies, because they figured they couldn’t sell enough to make it worth their effort to produce these albums. And so a number of times ever since the ’40s, I guess, various people who have been interested in the music and felt that this should be available to the collectors and to researchers have put out what I call pirate records, that is records you simply double off of old 78s, people who have these in their collections and they double them off and you put out a new record.

Chris Strachwitz:

Some people have objected to this on ethical grounds. They say this is stealing from these companies. Others say, “Well, is it really? If these companies aren’t interested in it, why shouldn’t somebody utilize it and let the people hear it?” I feel that as long as the companies are not interested in reissuing this material, then I think someone should put it out. If the artists are still alive or if their relatives, I think a royalty should be paid to these artists. It’s of course sometimes very difficult to find them. And so, I have done some of this myself, some of this pirating, as well as of course, Folk Ways, and Origin, a number of other companies.

Roy Trumbull:

But it’s still something pretty much for the aficionados and the people that are the researchers and so forth, and the music. I mean, it’s never gotten up on the hit parades, so to speak.

Chris Strachwitz:

No, no, I don’t think it ever…

Roy Trumbull:

It’s always going to be a limited thing.

Chris Strachwitz:

Yes. I think you’re right there, but I don’t think it should be restricted to just collectors. I think all people who are interested in folk music should have a chance to hear these things, to hear these recordings that were made in the ’20s and ’30s. Because as I’ve mentioned before, when I talked about Cajun music, it’s the first time that we can say this is the first real document we have of this music. It may have existed before that, I’m sure the blues, the Mississippi Blues existed long before Charlie Patton and those people made their first records, but we don’t know what they sounded like. And I think people should at least be able to hear what the first recordings sounded like. And I think some of them are absolutely beautiful. And to me, I don’t go along at all with this attitude that only the latest and newest thing is good. I think so many beautiful things were done in the past, that should be made available to people all over the country and the world.

Roy Trumbull:

Well, these pirate collections exist on a number of different labels. I don’t know exactly what legal clearances were gone through by Folk Ways, but I called to mind the Smith Collection that was several volumes.

Chris Strachwitz:

Yeah, it’s one of the best by far on Folk Ways, yeah.

Roy Trumbull:

They’re just terrific. I don’t know if they went through all the business or not, but what do you have-

Chris Strachwitz:

I don’t think so.

Roy Trumbull:

-on Arhoolie?

Chris Strachwitz:

Well, I don’t have it on my own label. You see, I put it on the Blues Classics Label, some of them are. I think one of the most beautiful women blues singers ever lived was Memphis Minnie, and I am paying her a royalty on these. She was just one of the finest guitar playing blue singers that ever lived. Another one I put out was called Jug, Jook and Washboard Bands, I think is one of the best anthologies of that type of music, which has seen some kind of a revival lately. And I’m putting out two more, one by Sonny Boy Williamson who recorded extensively in the ’30s. It’s not the same one who’s still playing. Although the one’s still playing, I would say he’s just as fine an artist. And I’m putting out one by Peetie Wheatstraw and Kokomo Arnold, two players of the ’30s.

Chris Strachwitz:

And then I have one other on Old Timey label, which is I think one of the really great string band albums. If you like old timey string bands, people like that “Hungry Hash House” by Charlie Poole. And well, it’s got some Cajun music on it too, like Joe Falcón and the Hackberry Ramblers. It’s really I think a real fine collection. Those mostly come from the collection of Bob Pinson. He’s got a lot of those originals and he was very nice to let me use those to dub them off.

Roy Trumbull:

Well, somebody wants to get a hold of you, Chris. Let’s give a post office box number once again.

Chris Strachwitz:

Oh, just write to that magic box. Number 5073 in Berkeley.

Roy Trumbull:

Good things will happen if you write, folks. Let’s get around now to Lightnin’ Sam Hopkins, what do we have here?

Chris Strachwitz:

Well, because he’s been one of the most extensively recorded artists, but I think he is no doubt to my mind, the world’s greatest blues artist. At least, he can be the most creative and the most inventive of them all. And I think one of the most impressive things that I ever recorded was a thing that he did shortly after they had one of those real cold spells in Houston and the Gulf of Galveston, the gulf down there froze over these parts of it and a lot of fishes died. He went down there, I guess just a little trip down there the next day. These are kind of his impressions of what he saw. It’s called “Ice Storm Blues.”

Roy Trumbull:

Lightnin’ Sam Hopkins. [Music.] That’s Lightnin’ Sam Hopkins from an Arhoolie Record. And tonight our guest is Chris Strachwitz. I almost got it there that time, Chris. We of course have had time just barely to scratch the surface of the many, many records. Would you mentioned some of the other artists that we just haven’t caught today?

Chris Strachwitz:

Well, there’s Black Ace, he’s from Texas. Lil’ Son Jackson, also from Texas. And of course the great Fred McDowell, who I hope will be out here this winter. Well, I’ve recorded some local artists. One group is on a record called Out West: Berkeley, Crabgrass and T.A. Talbott, Perry Lederman and Janet Smith. I think you’ve probably heard some of their material on this program.

Roy Trumbull:

Right.

Chris Strachwitz:

I’ve recently recorded another record in that series of folk interpreters, as I call them, and I think this girl is really going to go places. She’s a very sincere, hardworking, and very tasteful performer who selects her material by simply what she likes, and I think she’s got great taste. All the material that she sings really fits her, and that’s Alice Stuart, she was at the last Berkeley Folk Festival. And I think her record is a very nice one. It shows her humor, her sensitiveness, her really just great taste. And I think you’re going to play one of hers, aren’t you?

Roy Trumbull:

Yeah. It’s described by Sam Hinton, the little girl with the big guitar.

Chris Strachwitz:

I’ll say, usually I’m rather leery about, as I say maybe I’m prejudiced against interpreters, but this girl I think is going to be a real songster. She was brought up in a pretty isolated area of Washington State and has kind of come into folk music very recently, and has a fantastic gift for picking up things very quickly. Not only songs, but also playing instruments. She just learned the autoharp recently and in a matter of a week she played it as well as anybody I’ve ever heard. And as I say, she picks up songs, once she hears it, that’s it. She’s got it. I think she’s going to be just like Mance. No kidding, man. She really, I think, is going to be.

Roy Trumbull:

Oh, I know there’s a lot of people I saw at the folk festival that certainly enjoyed her, and I’ve had people ask me if she’s being recorded by anybody. And the answer of course is as you just heard, yes. When will the record actually be released?

Chris Strachwitz:

Well, in the first week of September.

Roy Trumbull:

We’re going to hear a couple of cuts from a test pressing on this program.

Chris Strachwitz:

Yeah. The actual record will be better. We changed it since we’ve made this test, so it’ll sound a little nicer.

Roy Trumbull:

So, you’re going to hear the original pre-expurgated Alice Stuart.

Chris Strachwitz:

Yeah, this is going to about a rare collector’s item.

Roy Trumbull:

Very, very rare collector’s item. If you have a tape recorder going, this is it Alice Stuart on Arhoolie Records. [Music.] That’s Alice Stuart, that’s the latest release of Arhoolie Records. Chris, I want to thank you for coming by today. We’re going to have to do this again sometime go through all these.

Chris Strachwitz:

Well, I sure enjoyed it and I hope people like the kind of music I- One thing I can say for my label, it may not be the biggest selling and most well known folk label, but everything I record, I love it. I mean, every group I’ve ever put on record, it’s something that I enjoyed myself. I don’t really care if they sell or not. I wish they would sell more, but this country’s so full of great music and I just hope that more people around the world will get a chance to hear it.

Roy Trumbull:

How often have you made trips through the South, collecting trips and such?

Chris Strachwitz:

Well, I started back in ’59, but I didn’t really record then. That was the first time I went to Houston to hear Lightnin’. And then it became kind of an annual, the biggest trip I guess, the most successful really was in 1960 when I met up with Paul Oliver from England and his wife. And he was really a great help there, he had a tremendous patience and was very dedicated to the blues and insisted on we stop almost every little town to find out who was living there. And he had an incredible amount of information beforehand as to who was living where, and I would say that was one of the most rewarding trips I ever took. And then since then I’ve gone down there sporadically, the last time was this last spring. Of course, things are pretty tough down there now. I think I better stay away from there for a while.

Roy Trumbull:

Yeah. Well, you are coming out with a second Mance Lipscomb recording, aren’t you?

Chris Strachwitz:

Yes. That’ll also be out the first week in September. It’ll be the same time the Alice Stuart one, and I think it’s a real nice one. He was really in beautiful form when he was out here last time and that’s when I recorded it.

Roy Trumbull:

Well, we’d like everybody to keep a lookout for Arhoolie Records in their local records store.

Chris Strachwitz:

Yes, a long playing, short selling record.

Roy Trumbull:

Yeah, and if you don’t see them in the record store, you better find out why not?

Chris Strachwitz:

Yeah. Ask for them.

Roy Trumbull:

Ask for them by name, Arhoolie. And if the guy says, “What’s that?”, you’re in the same position as Chris, because he’s not sure either. Thank you very much, Chris.

Chris Strachwitz:

Thank you.

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER

Stay in the loop on our latest news, events, and website additions.