Arhoolie Records and Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings acquires Arhoolie Records

arhoolie logo


Chris Strachwitz the founder of the small, independent label Arhoolie Records has announced that the business has been acquired by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.  

Arhoolie has played a vital role in keeping various forms of traditional music alive and available for lovers of these genres.  The story of Arhoolie is well told in the excellent 2004 documentary This Ain’t No Mouse Music!  I was lucky enough to witness Strachwitz receive an Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award from Ry Cooder in 2013.

Here’s the official statement from Strachwitz:

Thanks to the generosity of Laura and Ed Littlefield of the Sage Foundation, and the encouragement of the Savoy Family (the First Family of Cajun Music), Arhoolie Records has been acquired from me and my business partner Tom Diamant by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the nonprofit record label of the national museum. The acquisition includes more than 350 albums released in various formats and on various labels by Arhoolie as well as recordings from three South Texas regional labels specializing in Mexican music (Ideal, Falcon, and Rio), and Andean Huayno music from the Peruvian label Discos Smith.

Since I’m not King Tut, I can’t take my Arhoolie baby with me. It was Moe Asch, founder of Folkways Records, who told me in so many words, “Chris, you’ve got to think about what you are going to do with all your stuff when you kick the bucket.” I am very pleased that Arhoolie has found a new home at the Smithsonian, where they are committed to keeping everything in print and available to the public by one method or another. It has been fun running Arhoolie Records for the past 55 years. I plan to continue to produce records and assist the staff at Smithsonian Folkways where I can.

Once the transition is completed, all Arhoolie albums will be available on CD and digital formats, along with selected LPs, at folkways.si.edu.

The Down Home Music Store, Strachwitz’s retail record store in El Cerrito, CA will continue to do business as usual, and will remain a prime source for all currently available Arhoolie releases, both in person and by mail order. Visit the website at downhomemusic.com.

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, the national museum of the United States. As part of the Smithsonian Centre for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, it is dedicated to supporting cultural diversity and increased understanding among people through the documentation, preservation, and dissemination of sound.


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Author: Rob Dickens

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