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El Cerrito's Arhoolie Records Wins Grammy

El Cerrito-based Arhoolie Records won a Grammy award tonight, Sunday, for Best Album Notes for its boxed set, "Hear Me Howling!"

The 54th Annual Grammy Awards tonight, Sunday, saw one of the coveted prizes given to of El Cerrito for Best Album Notes.

The award honors Arhoolie's 4-CD plus book set, Hear Me Howling! The boxed set is a compilation of Bay Area music from the 1960s recognized as important at the time and recorded by Arhoolie founder and president . The text is by Adam Machado.

Arhoolie and its retail partner, the store, share the same building at 10341 San Pablo Ave.

The Arhoolie homepage tonight has been updated with a message titled, "Arhoolie Wins A Grammy!" It also says, "Congratulations author Adam Machado!"

The set's hardcover book is 136 pages in 8-1/2-inch by 11-inch format, with photographs by Strachwitz. (The set, including the book, was being offered on the Arhoolie Web site for a "Special Grammy Winning Sale" price of $44.95.")

It includes a wide range of music from visiting and local musicians, several of whom achieved renown. One of the breakthrough recordings was the original version of a song called, "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag," by a local singer and his band, Country Joe and the Fish.

The Hear Me Howling! compilation "focuses on the extraordinary vitality of the Bay Area music scene from Strachwitz's perspective," Chronicle pop music critic Joel Selvin wrote in a Chronicle feature last year about Arhoolie's 50th birthday. "Not only did he make studio recordings with visiting folk and blues musicians, but he dragged his bulky recording equipment to nightclubs and parties to capture the music in its raw element."

The Arhoolie Web site quotes Selvin saying also, "Chris Strachwitz’s living room in the Berkeley hills was one of the secret centers of the world in the ‘60s and 'Hear Me Howlin' opens the dusty closet of tapes he collected in those years – a rare view from inside of one of the cultural command posts of a changing society."

Artists in the set include Lightning Hopkins, Big Mama Thornton, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Joy of Cooking, Bukka White, Skip James, Clifton Chenier, Stanley Willis, Country Joe and many others.

In compiling the set, Stachwitz and Machado combed the dusty corners of his (Strachwitz's) tape library for sessions he never forgot," Selvin wrote in the Chronicle.

"I knew they were there," Strachwitz told the newspaper. "These tapes were like little jewels, things I caught back then. I loved to record things that I enjoyed. I used to take that damn machine around everywhere."

Arhoolie was nominated also for another Grammy, Best Historical Album, but that award went to Paul McCartney's Band on the Run. Local TV station CBS 5 featured Arhoolie's two nominations.

Shortly before the big 50th anniversary celebration for Arhoolie, Patch published a short video interview with Strachwitz on Nov. 27, 2010.

Lisa LaMagna February 13, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Perfect Valentine's Day Gift — "Hear Me Howling!" (hint hint). Congrats!
Alex Gronke February 13, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Congratulations Arhoolie!
LisaDaniella Davenport-Fletcher February 14, 2012 at 06:28 AM
Sloop absolutely PROUD of ARHOOLIE RECORDS & our city!!! EL CERRITO!! I LOVE YA!! <3
Chris February 14, 2012 at 09:20 AM
Of course it's great to see a local institution get recognized, but to the man who dedicates his life to preserving a special kind of history - Mr. Strachwitz, I salute you and from the bottom of my heart, I thank you!
Dorothy Coakley February 15, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Here at Casa Canine, we are settin' up a howl for Arhoolie, Strachwitz *and* our own special hometown. Congrats!!!

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