||Chris Strachwitz by now a "poor school teacher" with very limited resources was commissioned by his sister to return her car to Albuquerque, NM, during his summer vacation of 1959 and he used this trip as a pretense for his pilgrimage to see personal hero, Lightnin' Hopkins, in Houston, which entailed a not envisioned, excruciatingly long bus trip of epic proportions.
After a little sleuthing, he was able to track down his idol due to the generosity of host, Mack McCormick, Hopkins's manager. Actually, Mack was somewhat of a Renaissance man, being a playwright and general Texas historian, when not driving a taxi and it was he who later suggested the name of Arhoolie because it had a ring somewhat reminiscent of a field holler.
Seeing the legendary Texas bluesman on his home turf at watering holes such as Pop's Place and the Sputnik Club inspired Chris to begin his own label in earnest, although, ironically, he would not be able to record this star himself for a couple of years because he was "unaffordable." In a 1993 interview with Shirley Mae Owens in the B.B.S. Newsletter, Chris describes his rapture during this first encounter. "It was just amazing. Because what he did in those little beer joints was like sheer poetry that he made up on the spot, you know. But, he rhymed it up and with his droning guitar......It was ferocious. He really poured it out. His whole being was in there."
As mentioned before, Chris had had some experience with recording (including one-man-band blues novelty act, Jesse "Lone Cat" Fuller, who then had shoeshine stand on College Ave in Berkeley in 1954) and was determined upon his return the next summer to do some of his own field tapes. In 1960 he was able to purchase a modestly priced apparatus to suit his needs from the proceeds of 78 rpm record auctions through a UK publication, Vintage Jazz Mart. One memorable record hunting peregrination in the late 50s led him to Georgia where he loaded up 4000 of these fragile shellac disks in an old laundry truck and carted them back across the country.
"By then, I had acquired a Roberts model, which was a Japanese outfit. But this was way before they had earned the reputation of producing superior electronic equipment. It was a sort of cheap imitation of an Ampex, monophonic, with a single mike input," said Chris. As a matter of fact, the first several Arhoolie albums were recorded on this device before Chris discovered to his chagrin that a few later sessions were ruined (1961), rendered useless by this flawed machine. "It would register recording levels in the proper ranges but then be over modulated to the point that the music was unlistenable and had to be discarded. It was disheartening. I guess you get what you pay for," added Chris. It could have been a whole different story for Arhoolie, or perhaps no story at all, if this fickle contraption wasn't up to snuff for Chris's first experiment in 1960, which was destined to become a most auspicious start for label.
Although 1960 doesn't sound that long ago, there still were some undiscovered blues prodigies in bushes to be found and Chris, armed with a new Harmony guitar that he had bought in a music shop in Berkeley (because he was told that these artists would not even have an instrument to call their own), became living proof that persistence does pay off.
Arriving in Houston in the summer of 1960 for his second visit, Chris was disappointed that his guitar demigod, Hopkins, was back in California at a folk festival, but went along for the ride when Mack McCormick, being the researcher and archivist that he was, recommended that they attempt to search for Tom Moore's farm, rumored to be somewhere in central Texas. Back in 1948, Lightnin' Hopkins had recorded the famed "Tom Moore's Blues" for Bill Quinn's Gold Star (640) label which was also picked up for distribution by the L.A. - based indie Modern (20-673) run by the Bihari brothers. Over the years, the song had become a cult, civil rights anthem with its many stanzas depicting the poor, downtrodden Negro being oppressed by this archetypal white, "Mr. Charlie."
Although they each had their own particular agenda in mind (Chris's being the possible discovery of a diamond in the rough guitar player in the outback) when they began the trip, both seemed to relish the idea of being detectives in the quest to unearth this mythic Tom Moore and determine whether he really still existed. Following Mack's recommendation that they inquire as to his whereabouts in a feed store (where in such regions all such information would typically be disseminated), they were directed to a bank building which housed Moore's office in Navasota, TX, a small town in Washington County about 60 miles northwest of Houston on State Route 6. Once inside, Chris, the timid one, let Mack, the brash one, do all the talking. However, Moore turned out to be downright cordial, despite the aggressive "interrogation" by Mack, and even offered them, at a week's hence, an appointment to visit his storied plantation. But the impatient duo did not have that much time to burn and inquired as to whether any guitar pickers who played for field hands might reside in the vicinity. It was Moore who proffered the name of Peg Leg, who hung out at a local railroad station. And Peg Leg, who seemed to know everyone in the territory, told them that the man they so anxiously sought worked by day on a road crew cutting grass and that his name was Mance Lipscomb.
When they first approached the field hand, he was naturally reticent about dealing with these strangers, "two white guys," to use Chris's words, but this "gracious and charming gentleman" soon warmed up to them, especially when the topic of music was introduced. Chris was immediately impressed with Mance's repertoire but not particularly with his delivery, although the balladeer knew all 20-odd verses to "Tom Moore's Blues." It appeared that Mance had indiscriminately picked up all manner of music and was able to mimic any musician that passed his way over the years (this sharecropper, the son of an emancipated slave, was already 65 years old). His playbook (committed to memory, of course) included ragtime, minstrel fare, spirituals, children's songs, pop standards, and folk songs and his style was more that of a supple and intricate finger-picker, complemented by a hushed vocals, than the tough, down home, gut-bucket blues performer that Chris was hoping to uncover. Nonetheless, both Chris and Mack instantaneously recognized his special talents and recorded him virtually on the spot, in his house, no less, surrounded by a wife and grandchildren. His Texas Songster and Sharecropper, in which Mack supplied the liner notes, became Arhoolie's first release as #1001, the beginning of which would amount to five volumes of country blues and folk music for this label. In the foreword of the catalogue appears a photo of Chris and designer Wayne Pope proudly pasting the slicks to the inaugural batch of 250 LP covers of this album .
Although Chris at the time could not offer Mance much in the way of monetary compensation for his efforts, the guitarist was always deeply appreciative, even grateful. "It was more than I ever got for doing them," Lipscomb would say each time. Unlike Lightnin' Hopkins, who seemingly negotiated for money between each song, the humble Lipscomb and later Mississippi Fred McDowell would play tune after tune and were a pleasure with which to work. And such a positive episode, especially on the first try, impelled Chris to again try his hand with other such players. When Shirley Mae Owens in the B.B.S. interview asked Chris if he enjoyed revealing such unrenowned figures as Lipscomb and later McDowell, he responded, "I loved it. It was the most amazing experience in my life. You know I never met this kind of society before. I never met their kind of people before. Back in Europe, our workers didn't have any music like here. It was just boring, but here was all this incredible stuff....
But the summer of 1960 was far from over. Another pivotal connection came in the person of Bob Pinson who accompanied Chris on this same second Deep South trek (he was visiting relatives) and helped Chris immeasurably in hunting down of yet other long forgotten bluesmen of the region. Pinson, who originally hailed from Ft. Worth and who now works for the Country Blues Foundation in Nashville, also was an avid collector. In fact, this institution bought his formidable assortment of C&W treasures. One area name high on Chris's list was Little Brother, a singer on a 78 rpm in his possession. In Dallas, Chris and Bob had the temerity to interrupt a crap game, inquiring of the natives if they had ever heard of him. "He used to hang around with Black Ace and if you go to this tavern there around five, you can't miss him. He's got a white shirt that says 'Ace' on it," said a gambler. Ironically, Black Ace (born Babe Kyro Lemon Turner) was still another monicker which rang a bell with Chris from one of Paul Oliver's letters and he didn't hesitate to act on this new piece of information .
When they finally caught up with Turner, this erstwhile national steel lap guitarist (disciple of "Hawaiian style" exponent Buddy Woods) was in a good humor and his mood became most expansive, especially when a couple of out-of-towners remembered his glory days - one solitary session for Decca in Chicago in 1936 with fellow Texans, guitarist Smokey Hogg and pianist Alex Moore. However, he told them that the said instrument was in his attic and stringless, having been put on the proverbial shelf several years back. Making the necessary arrangements, Chris soon had Turner shaking out the rust but had to give him a rain check on the recording appointment until the arrival of Oliver, who would take the cover photo. These two in house dates took place in Fort Worth on August 14, and September 10, 1960, the bulk of which became the basis for Arhoolie's third release (1003).
One thing quickly led to another and, although this elusive Little Brother was never located, the previously alluded to barrelhouse pianist, "Whistling" Alex Moore, still a Dallas fixture, also became a charter member of Arhoolie's roster, recording both for Oliver and Chris on July 30, 1960, which resulted in a brief walk-on on Arhoolie 1006, an anthology, but soon after he was headlining his own venture, LP 1008. The keyboard player reappeared on Arhoolie 1048, after a performance at the American Folk Blues Festival in Germany sponsored by the aforementioned Lippman and Rau. This latter session in Stuttgart's Jankowski Studio held on October 23, 1969, followed close on the heels of touring Piedmont blues exemplar John Jackson's whose own taping became Arhoolie 1047, John Jackson in Europe.
Bob Pinson also became the conduit to yet another sought after favorite of Chris's - Melvin "Lil' Son" Jackson. Like Lowell Fulson, Smokey Hogg, T-Bone Walker, and Lightnin' Hopkins, Jackson played in that signature Texas style - the lazy, laid back loping rhythms punctuated by staccato note bursts. Once a prolific artist, he had also recorded for Houston's Bill Quinn on Gold Star in the 40s, some of which were leased to Dot, Modern, and Sittin' In With. By the 50s, he signed with Lew Chudd's Imperial records of Los Angeles and issued a slew of singles during the period 1950-54, after which he retired following a serious car accident (the driver fell asleep at the wheel) in route to a gig in Oklahoma, "taking it as a sign from God that he should give up the business," said Chris.
Chris had remembered that the bluesman who also recorded as Little Son Jackson had lived in Dallas but a search of the recent phone books proved fruitless. Pinson thought that a library might be helpful because it retained such references from the past, and, sure enough, they discovered that he still had the same number from years gone by. Actually it was Bob who finally found Jackson working as a salesperson in an auto parts store.
"Lil' Son, surprisingly, like a lot of bluesmen, was obviously a shy, very introverted person. He confessed to me that he would often drink to combat stage fright and that he had to quit that stuff because it was killing him," said Chris. Chris in the liner notes of this LP had the opinion that the best setting for this performer should be as a solo, individual attempt, reflecting his rather private personality, rather than that he should cater to the R&B demands for a big band supporting cast that were thrust upon him during the road tours of his former existence. Despite Jackson's initial reluctance, Chris was able to prevail upon him to record and a session was set up for July 10, 1960 which yielded Arhoolie 1004. Its cover, too, was shot by Paul Oliver.
During this same time frame, Chris also commenced an ill-fated foray into C&W music. Having another 78, this time on the recently late, Lillian McMurry's legendary Trumpet label (Elmore James, Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Joe Williams,Jerry McCain, and Willie Love) of Jackson, MS, Chris was determined to record for himself the Hodges Brothers, whom he successfully traced to Bogue Chitta, MS. Joel Selvin in a feature story in the San Francisco Chronicle sets the scene. "Chris found the three men living with their mother in a one-room shack, a mule grinding cane outside. They were so poor, they couldn't afford a hen house and their chickens roosted in the trees." Nevertheless, Chris did his utmost to produce a quality album in spite of their direcircumstances and an obnoxious radio DJ (at the station where it was recorded) who insisted on doing the lead vocals. But sales of this item, Arhoolie 5001 (used to demarcate the hillbilly series) proved so miserable that he was forced to forego recording this genre of music. "The public just wouldn't buy it," he said. Nevertheless, by then, it would have been a rather hopeless endeavor without the requisite connections to compete with the slick packaging of Nashville, which was beginning to exert its stranglehold on this corner of the market. Later in 1962, Chris would launch his Old Timey label which had a long run of 28 releases, but these would be comprised mainly of seminal C&W disks of the 20s, 30s, and 40s.
But blues, that was an altogether totally different story, not only of the freshly made variety but also the reissued gems. And in the early 60s, Arhoolie releases were emerging at a rather steady pace, due in no small part to the frugality, inventiveness, and shrewdness of its ever-vigilant proprietor. In a long rather complicated story involving Oakland-based producer Bob Geddins who apparently was able to spring Delta guitar legend Big Joe Williams from jail, Chris somehow managed to record nearly three dozen tracks while back home in Los Gatos on October 5, 1960, the majority of which became Arhoolie 1002. Another early Arhoolie stablemate was the Texas-born, heavy-handed stride pianist, Mercy Dee Walton, who lived in Stockton, CA. The oft-recorded keyboard player in a career which only spanned a dozen years appeared on a host of labels including Spire, Imperial, Bayou, Colony, Rhythm, and Flair. Yet, he only scored once - with the haunting and stark "One Room Country Shack" for Art Rupe's Specialty (458) in 1952. Chris teamed him with the great K.C. Douglas and Otis Cherry on drums; then later, Sidney Maiden on harmonica in four separate tapings at Stockton and Berkeley in the period of February through April 1961. Although it was merely one year before Walton's untimely death, Chris was still able to catch him while still in his finest form.
Soon after his exploits in Houston, Chris turned his attention toward obtaining long-lost masters for reissue and considers his Swingtime acquisition one of his greatest coups. Undoubtedly, he had heard of small-time L.A. record magnate, Jack Lauderdale, who ran Swingtime and Down Beat, through his association with Bob Geddins, who often leased his own Down Town and and Big Town masters to him for wider distribution. Although short-lived with only a couple of hundred singles from the late 40s to early 50s, the label launched the careers of Ray Charles, pianist Lloyd Glenn, and Lowell Fulson. But this was 1962, and Swingtime had long ago gone bankrupt; so much so, that Lauderdale must have been in a yard sale mind-set. "For a measly $500, I was able to obtain both the Big Joe Turner material and the Lowell Fulson and he threw in a lot of hardware like metal plates, as well," said Chris. From the bargain basement shopping expedition, Chris was able to issue both an album of each artist (2004 and 2003), the latter featuring eloquent duets between Fulson and his brother Martin, who acoustically establishes a drifting tempo to Lowell's electric counterpoint of rapid fire guitar bursts - the unmistakable trademark of Texas blues. No self-respecting blues fan of the 60s was without this magnificent representation of Lone Star stylings in his collection. Chris Strachwitz designated the 2000 series for such reissues to distinguish it from the 1000, the new recordings, both live and in the studio. But as far as the Arhoolie label was concerned, it was clear that Chris's focus was on the present, although there were some notable late 40s performances by Lightnin' Hopkins on Bill Quinn's Gold Star that probably would not again have seen the light of day and lain moldering in the vaults had it not been for Chris's intervention. These were truly remarkable recordings capturing the Texas bluesman in his prime and making of Quinn's Houston studio a shrine for fervid Japanese blues aficionados. Nonetheless, by 1964 Chris had established the Blues Classics label to handle the preponderance of what would have been Arhoolie reissues and throughout the 60s there were 30 in all, most having a unifying theme - Delta Blues, Chicago Blues, Detroit Blues, etc. And practically all of the Blues Classics cuts were rarities from Chris's own collection, upon which he was all too glad to comment in the liner notes. By 1965, Chris had secured a bimonthly radio program over KPFA-FM in Berkeley in which he showcased such material, much like the Dick Spottswood show on Saturday night over WAMU-FM, 88.5, in Washington, D.C. Sadly, however, Chris's regular broadcast after a three-decade ride was suddenly preempted in 1995 by a format change, still leaving quite a void in that blues community. So much for progress.
When Chris finally quit teaching in 1962 and moved back to Berkeley, he was firmly committed to recording the blues, which was gaining impetus from the folk movement of that era. But at the time, it was still very much a risky proposition, as Arhoolie at best was only marginally profitable. Chris was basically eeking out an existence, much like a door to door salesman. And there were times, no doubt, wherein he second-guessed his decision as he tried to simultaneously wear the hats of producer, engineer, wholesaler, retailer, and distributor from a basic, grass roots level. But he stuck with it, and slowly built the foundation. And some of his greatest achievements would soon be forthcoming, including the much heralded field recordings of Mississippi Fred McDowell.
Chris won't take credit for discovering the modest, self-effacing Delta slide paragon; that goes to famous folklorist, Alan Lomax, who stumbled upon McDowell while traipsing through the Deep South in the late 50s on yet another assignment by his employer, the Library of Congress. But if Lomax deserves the kudos for this significant revelation of blues talent, Chris is entitled to his accolades as well for putting him on the blues landscape for all to enjoy, as he was the first to promise him an album that he could truly call his own. "I was intrigued by the batch of recordings that Lomax did for Atlantic and in one artist in particular, Mississippi Fred McDowell, who sang 'When You Get Home, Write Me A Few Of Your Lines,'" said Chris. He was referring to the Southern Folk Heritage Series, which included Roots Of The Blues (SD 1348), Sounds Of The South (SD 1346), and The Blues Roll On (SD 1352), the latter from which the song originated. It must have been curious to Chris how McDowell could just have been relegated to cameo status on these anthologies (which included Forest City Joe Pugh, Miles Pratcher, and Lonnie Young) and not have been accorded his proper place in the sun; so much did he stand head and shoulders in artistry above his colleagues on these historic recordings. In fact, the late blues critic, Pete Welding (then of Down Beat and the Saturday Review of Literature), tries to do justice to his this incredible bottleneck slide representative of Delta blues in the liner notes to Fred McDowell, Vol. 2 (Arhoolie F 1027). "His is an art of almost hypnotic intensity, his involvement with his material total. The fabric woven by his voice and guitar in performance is of astonishing complexity, subtlety, and sensitivity." And Chris no less recognized the special genius of this "performer of consummate individuality and persuasive force," to again use Welding's words. "I wrote to Lomax and told him that I thought he was the most amazing musician that I had ever heard in my life and I just had to record him. And he graciously gave me his address," said Chris, who drove to Como, MS, and then had to enlist the aid of the local post office in order find his farmhouse nestled deep in this rural district. "When I pulled up, he was just getting off his tractor, walking away. But sure enough that night, we had a session in his house. By that time I had obtained a Magnecord tape player with a Capps omnidirectional mike. It was a fine machine and we made a great recording. I was pleased," added Chris.
This album (Arhoolie F 1021) engineered by Chris on the evening of February 13, 1964, was the first of several that he recorded of this gifted slide player and singer of uncommon magnitude. The aforementioned second also was recorded in Como in 1966. Fred McDowell & His Blues Boys (F 1046) occurred in Berkeley on August 19-21, 1969, which by that time Chris was regularly supplying artists like Lightnin' Hopkins (whom he finally recorded in the same locale starting in November, 1961) and Mance Lipscomb to the annual Berkeley Folk Festival (held on campus at UC and at Berkeley's Greek Theatre) or other equally prestigious California venues. LP 1068 (although not in chronological sequence) was recorded variously in Berkeley and in Como in 1965 and amply delineates his spiritual side and he demonstrates in numbers like "Keep Your Lamp Trimmed And Burning" and "Where Could I Go But To The Lord" that gospel music could easily accomodate that most secular "devil's music." Ironically, it would be just one of these religious songs that would make the most amount of money for both Fred and Arhoolie.
It's not within the scope of this article to comment upon each and every Arhoolie release of 60s, which numbered 50 or so (exclu-ding the Blues Classics and Old Timey reissues which would push this total to over a hundred). But perhaps two artists recorded by Chris near the end of the decade best capture the spirit, the philosophy of Arhoolie. In fact, they serve to define the label - Weldon "Juke Boy" Bonner and Clifton Chenier. Bonner, a native Texan, who mystifyingly recorded one single for Bob Geddins's Irma label (111) in 1957 as Juke Boy Barner and then showed up on the doorstep of Eddie Shuler's Goldband Studio in Lake Charles in 1960 for another (1102), was an itinerant street singer, with a guitar and harmonica rack. His style of playing was undisciplined, unpolished, and raw. Much of his material was topical, dealing with issues of the day, be they unemployment, politics, or crime. A genuine eccentric, who died in Houston at 46 in 1978, this loner sang with an urgency and soulful empathy that captivated blues collectors lucky enough to have heard any of this heretofore exiguous output. Chris, too, acknowledged his special gifts although he probably realized that such a rough-hewn approach would never translate into any considerable sales; that is, little or no market potential outside of hard-core blues fans. Yet, Chris was willing to give him not only one but also two chances on Arhoolie - LP 1036 (recorded in Dec. '67 and Jan. '68) and 1045 (Nov. '68 and May '69) from which was issued a single, "My Blues" bw "Houston The Action Town (522)." One has to take into account that at that juncture, blues of any sort was experiencing a down period and with the advent of the 70s, disco was just around the corner, eliminating live music in its wake. But at this late date, who but Chris and Arhoolie would step forward and salvage for the ages such an ingenuous and artless nonconformist with no commercial viability? It was much the same case with zydeco patriarch, Clifton Chenier, who, aside from compilations, went on to record four albums for Arhoolie from the period 1965 until 1970 - 1024, 1031, 1038, and 1052, both in Houston and in (probably)Pasadena, TX, (Leadbitter claims Pasadena, CA, which is disputed by Chris) most featuring his longtime drummer Robert St. Julien and rubboard (frottoir) player, brother Cleveland. In the 50s, although not wildly popular, he was a steady seller for a string of labels including Imperial (with Post subsidiary), Specialty, Chess (Argo and Checker auxiliaries), and finally Zynn, operated by J.D. Miller in Crowley, LA. His outfit, later to become the Red Hot Louisiana Band, was always such a tight unit that often they (with then-lead guitarist Phillip Walker) would be invited to be the house orchestra for touring R&B caravans on the "chitlin' circuit" in theatres like the Howard in Washington, the Regal in Chicago, the Royal in Baltimore, and the Apollo in New York. When Lightnin' Hopkins introduced Chris to the creator of modern zydeco in Houston in May, 1965 he was about washed up, his music having fallen into disfavor, except in the older generation. He caught him entertaining in a little dive in the southeast part of Houston near the ship channels. And, indeed, even Chris was skeptical whether he could help him. "Here was this tall, lanky, black man with a huge accordion on his chest, just playing the goddamnedest blues you'd ever heard. But he was singing it in French. He didn't sing any English at all. As far as I can remember sitting in there, it was just a drummer bashing away behind him," said Chris in the Owens interview.
Clifton needed a hit record badly, and persuaded Chris who hadn't "a pot to piss in" to pave the way for him at Bill Quinn's studio. "Clifton always had his own ideas about what he wanted to be and he showed up with his band with the intention of doing Ray Charles and Fats Domino covers. Meanwhile, I wanted him to sing in his natural Creole patois with just the drummer, like I heard him the first time. Fortunately for me, I guess, his guitar amplifier burned up and his bass cabinet started separating so that he had to tell his group to pack up and go home," said Chris.
Although Chris personally eschewed singles whenever possible, he understood all too well their significance as a promotional vehicle in the Deep South - a good juke box hit could travel a long way and Clifton's first trial with Arhoolie on February 8, 1964, resulted in "Ay Ai Ai" bw "Why Did You Go Last Night (506)." "I didn't know much French and anyway I couldn't understand him. So, sometimes I just made up a name like 'Louisiana Blues' for his second 45 rpm[509, recorded on May 11, 1965]," added Chris.
It was probably through these juke box platters rather than the LPs that Chris singlehandedly resurrected the career of this legendary accordionist and even at the time Chris wasn't aware of their historic importance. He just followed his instincts.
"But still I had to get distribution, get into the network," said Chris. This feat he was able to accomplish by approaching east Texas producer H.W. "Pappy" Daily, who used to run D records ("Chantilly Lace" by the Big Bopper) and now Musicor, and then Daily's son. Ultimately, he struck a deal with Floyd Soileau of Ville Platte, LA (Maison de Soul and Jin records) whereby he would lease the records to Soileau, who had a pressing plant, and they would appear on the Bayou label. And judging from the discography, Clifton throughout the decade was churning them out at a rather decent rate. In fact, his popularity was on the rise so much that it began to attract the attention, for example, of Jerry Wexler of Atlantic, who turned out to be a big talker (not putting his money where his mouth was) and the notorious, now-incarcerated sex offender, Huey Meaux, of Houston (Teardrop/Crazy Cajun), who succeeded in temporarily spiriting Chenier away for one session in Houston in 1967, smack dab in the middle of his raft of recordings for Arhoolie/Bayou.
Certainly, one lesson that Chris learned from his association with Clifton Chenier is that blues can take many forms. And, in a sense, Clifton serves as a harbinger of Arhoolie's direction thereafter - be it Hispanic, Greek, or Gypsy manifestations of this universal species of music.
As the 60s closed, Chris's financial condition wasn't much better than at the outset. It was always a struggle and he was still scuffling along with an apartment and P.O. box in Berkeley and a warehouse situated in Jack's Record Cellar at Page and Scott Sts in San Francisco (near Haight-Ashbury) which he was leasing for $15 a month. Moreover, despite his rapidly dwindling bank account, he was fighting the good fight not only in conserving his beloved blues but also by initiating lawsuits against rip-off companies in which he, through his naivete, became involved - like Tomato and Blue Thumb, for example - long, sad stories of royalties never paid.
But as fate would have it, a crude home recording, not more than a demo, of an as yet unknown folk-rock singer would have a profound influence on Arhoolie and signal its new departure. Better days were, indeed, just around the corner. Larry Benicewicz