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Arhoolie Records

Down home music since 1960

Arhoolie Records logo

Smithsonian Folkways has made more than 300 standout titles from the famed Arhoolie Records catalog available digitally to all digital service providers and on CD and vinyl through the Smithsonian Folkways website. The remaining titles from the roughly 650-album collection will be released on an ongoing basis. Smithsonian Folkways acquired the Arhoolie catalog in May 2016, from its founder Chris Strachwitz and his business partner Tom Diamant.

Arhoolie Records founder Chris Strachwitz

Arhoolie Records founder Chris Stachwitz

Chris Strachwitz moved to the United States from Germany in 1947 and fell in love with American roots music. His first love was New Orleans jazz, but radio broadcasts from Los Angeles and Baja California introduced him to hillbilly, rhythm & blues, gospel, Mexican norteño music and beyond. A major collector of 78s, Strachwitz travelled to Texas in 1959 to meet his idol Lightning Hopkins, and was lucky enough to hear him perform live in a small beer joint. Struck by the exchange between Lightning and his audience, and by the poetry of his improvised lyrics, Chris decided right then and there that someone had to capture this man's music live in one of those joints and put it on a record. The following year, Chris returned to Houston only to find Hopkins leaving for California, so he and Mack McCormick, his guide to all things Texas, ventured north out of the city to Navasota, where they encountered and recorded outstanding local songster Mance Lipscomb. A few months later, in November 1960, Arhoolie LP 1001 introduced Chris' new label and that small town Texas songster to the world. (An arhoolie is a field holler; the name was suggested by McCormick.) Over the next 55 years, Chris and Arhoolie Records put out over 350 albums. A passionate seeker of just the right music, Chris’s many recordings included Cajun, zydeco, norteño, bluegrass, gospel and blues. Regional forms like zydeco may have never had national exposure without Arhoolie. The Smithsonian acquired the Arhoolie label from Chris and his partner Tom Diamant in 2016 to assure that his recordings would survive and remain available to future generations.

A few recordings from Arhoolie Records. Click here for more CDs, LPs, and 7-inch singles.

Texas Songster by Mance Lipscomb
Texas Songster
Mance Lipscomb
ARH00306 (1960/2000)
In Europe by Big Mama Thornton
In Europe
Big Mama Thornton
ARHLP1028 (1966)
I Wonder Where You Are Tonight by Del McCoury
I Wonder Where You Are Tonight
Del McCoury
ARH09030 (1967/2002)
Mercury Blues by K.C. Douglas
Mercury Blues
K.C. Douglas
ARH00475 (1974/1998)
Under A Green Oak Tree by Dewey Balfa, Marc Savoy & D.L. Menard
Under A Green Oak Tree
Dewey Balfa, Marc Savoy & D.L. Menard
ARH00312 (1976/1989)
Bogalusa Boogie by Clifton Chenier
Bogalusa Boogie
Clifton Chenier
ARH00347 (1976/1990)
Hot Chili Mama by Michael Doucet & Beausoleil
Hot Chili Mama
Michael Doucet & Beausoleil
ARH05040 (1987)
Gimme My Money Back by The Tremè Brass Band
Gimme My Money Back
The Tremè Brass Band
ARH00417 (1995)
Reverend Louis Overstreet With His Sons and Congregation of St. Lukes Powerhouse Church of God in Christ
With His Sons and Congregation of St. Lukes Powerhouse Church of God in Christ
Reverend Louis Overstreet
ARH00442 (1995)