Wednesday, December 13, 2006
ROCKIN' plumbs the Arhoolie Records vault with the help of founder Chris Strachwitz
Chris Strachwitz, founder of the Arhoolie Records label and the DownHome Music store in El Cerrito, CA, is one of the legends in the roots music recording business. Since the early '60s Chris has traveled the United States in search of long-lost musicans and long-forgotten recordings. Chris kindly offered to help me in the search for 78s from the great bluesmen, and what he turned up in the Arhoolie vault can be seen on page 29--sides from Howlin' Wolf, Lightnin' Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, and others. These include some of the seminal recordings of "Key to the Highway," "Pontiac Blues," "Mr. Highway Man," and "I Asked for Water, She Gave Me Gasoline," to name only a few.
"Mercury Blues" as later put on vinyl by David Lindley and Alan Jackson, was a remake of KC Douglas' "Mercury Boogie," recorded in 1949. Chris spent much personal time getting the rights situation resolved in favor of the Douglas family.
The large photo above has a picture-within-a-picture, that of a younger Chris Strachwitz somewhere in Texas several decades ago, sitting on the ground near his rental car, with a stash of just-unearthed 78s. You can see from Chris' expression that it was one glorious day record hunting.