Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee Photo Gallery

By the early 1960s, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee were familiar faces in the Bay Area’s folk and blues scene. They frequently set up shop at the Berkeley home of Phil and Midge Huffman, a gathering place for musicians and friends passing through the Bay Area. The Huffmans were famous for their warmth, hospitality (including Midge’s nightly meals), and their enthusiasm for the music their guests brought to the house, all contributing to what Barbara Dane’s son Jesse Cahn describes as “one of those magic vortexes.” Chris frequently brought visiting bluesmen to the Huffmans, including Mance Lipscomb and T-Bone Walker, where they joined in the homey and convivial atmosphere. Brownie and Sonny, too, became the centerpiece of many parties and jam sessions at the house. Midge Huffman recounted those visits in an interview for Hear Me Howling, published by Arhoolie Records in 2010: 

“Sonny and Brownie would stay two or three weeks at a time, and there would be a party every night. Brownie would stay up all night. Sonny would go to bed early. About four in the afternoon they would drift together and start to play. They’d play a very deep, soft blues. Then around seven or eight, people would arrive, and it would become a blues party. Every night we’d have ten to one hundred people.”

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.