January 11, 2008

Nice article here from the SF paper with the basic story of Chris Strachwitz, founder of Arhoolie and a dude who almost amazingly got it in terms of all great music. Some good pictures with the article too.

MUSIC MAN / Without collector Chris Strachwitz, there'd be no record of some of America's greatest folk music, from zydeco to the Delta blues

I first got into conjunto music and regional Mexican music from listening to the stuff Arhoolie put out, something for which I will be eternally grateful. It definitely changed my life.

I've said as much to Strachwitz on the two occasions I've met him. I was really stoked when Santiago Jimenez, Jr. pointed Strachwitz out in the crowd at the National Folklife festival in Richmond last fall, and I was so excited that immediately cornered him and talked his ear off. Then he was at the conjunto festival in San Antonio last year and I was pleased to spend an evening chatting with him again (this time I let him talk a bit). He has some strong opinions in addition to impeccable taste in good music. He also had some hilarious stories about traveling around with the great Les Blank.

As it happens, when turned on my computer I was listening this morning to Los Ping├╝inos Del Norte, "Corridos de la Frontera," which is an Arhoolie cd (from the 1970s, their first Norteno release in fact). That is some incredible stuff, holy shit, the singing on it will blow your mind, it is simply perfect. You, dear friend, really should get this, if you don't like it I'll buy you a beer while you can explain why...)

Strachwitz has the world's largest collection of Mexican music on 78 and other formats. He saved much of it from destruction or almost total obscurity, and for that he really should be applauded. And he has made it accessible, not just for sale through Arhoolie, but even more impressively at the mind blowing Frontera collection at UCLA. I have linked to that site before, it is really worth your time wading through it. Because of copyright you can't listen to the whole song, but the information and the 50 second snippets are still great. I have spent more than a few hours on that site.

The world is a better place because of the life and work of Chris Strachwitz, thanks man.

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