ArhoolieRecordsRedBackArhoolie Records — known for “down home” blues, folk, jazz, country, gospel, Cajun, zydeco, Mexican American, and world music — has been acquired by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the nonprofit label of the Smithsonian Institution — the national museum of The United States.

The acquisition includes more than 350 albums released since 1960 in various formats by Arhoolie, along with recordings from three South Texas regional labels specializing in Mexican music (Ideal, Falcon, and Rio), Andean Huayno music from the Peruvian label Discos Smith, and archival materials including master tapes.

According to a news release issued by Smithsonian Folkways, the collection features seminal recordings by artists such as Bukka White, Big Mama Thornton, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Big Joe Williams, Flaco Jiménez, and Clifton Chenier. More recent releases include those by the Savoy Family Band (the first family of Cajun music), the Magnolia Sisters, and the Pine Leaf Boys.

Chris Strachwitz (r.) of Arhoolie records with bluesman Mississippi Fred McDowell circa 1970 (Photo courtesy Chris Strachwitz. All rights reserved.)

Chris Strachwitz (r.), founder of Arhoolie Records, shown here with bluesman Mississippi Fred McDowell circa 1970 (Photo courtesy Chris Strachwitz. All rights reserved.)

“Since I’m not King Tut, I can’t take my Arhoolie baby with me,” said Chris Strachwitz, its 84-year-old founder, who was recently honored by the GRAMMYs with a Trustees Award. “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.”

Here’s a link to a trailer for a documentary film about Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records:

Daniel Sheehy, curator and director of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, said: “The Arhoolie Records collection is a national treasure of recorded music. “We are honored to further the accessibility of these recordings and continue the commitment Chris Strachwitz has had to finding, recording, and promoting ‘down home’ music since he founded Arhoolie in 1960.”

Once the transition is completed, all Arhoolie albums will be available on CD and in digital formats, along with selected LPs, at Until then, a prime source for currently available releases is the Down Home Music record store (, located in the same building as Arhoolie Records and the Arhoolie Foundation ( in El Cerrito, California. Both the record store and the foundation will continue to operate separately from Smithsonian Folkways. Albums are also available at online outlets such as Amazon, iTunes, and Spotify.

Here’s a link to read a detailed history of Arhoolie Records:

230_smithsonian_folkwaysAs part of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings label is dedicated to supporting cultural diversity and increased understanding among people through the documentation, preservation, and dissemination of sound. The label aims to document “people’s music,” spoken word, instruction, and sounds from around the world. With the acquisition of Arhoolie Records, the collection consists of more than 3,500 albums and 50,000 tracks along with videos, playlists, podcasts, lesson plans for teachers, and Smithsonian Folkways Magazine.