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A visual storytelling celebration of American roots music in its rich variety through unseen and newly scanned photographs by the founder of the legendary Arhoolie Records.

Founded in 1960 by Chris Strachwitz, the one-man operation Arhoolie Records eventually produced more than four hundred albums during more than forty years in operation, exploring the far corners of American vernacular music—blues, gospel, Cajun, zydeco, hillbilly, Texas-Mexican norteño music, and more.

From the very beginning, Strachwitz brought his camera along with recording equipment as he met and recorded now-legendary artists such as Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Clifton Chenier, and Big Joe Williams. This book collects more than 150 of his best, most intimate, and exciting images—many never-before-seen—each with rich captions by Strachwitz and award-winning music journalist Joel Selvin, along with a substantial 20,000-word essay by Selvin about Arhoolie, Strachwitz, and the music.

About the Authors

JOEL SELVIN is an award-winning journalist and the bestselling author of more than twenty books on pop music. He was pop music critic for the San Francisco Chronicle for thirty-six years, first interviewing Chris Strachwitz as one of his earliest articles for the paper. He was also editor of Arhoolie Occasional Number 2 in 1971. Strachwitz introduced him to Mance Lipscomb, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Clifton Chenier, among others

CHRIS STRACHWITZ was the founder of Arhoolie Records and the Arhoolie Foundation. Through his long and storied career as a record producer, record collector, filmmaker, and documentarian, Strachwitz worked to celebrate and promote what he termed “down home” music: the tradition-based, regional styles of the United States and its borderlands, including blues, Cajun, zydeco, Tejano/norteño, mariachi, gospel, bluegrass, old-time, polka, and more. As one of the most celebrated documentarians of American roots music over the past half century, Strachwitz brought his tape recorder and camera into dance halls, churches, garages, boucheries (pig roasts), and homes, where generations of musicians have kept their regions’ music alive. The images Strachwitz captured, many of which graced Arhoolie album covers, are an enduring testament to American vernacular music.

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