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Hear Me Howling! Blues, Ballads, and Beyond as recorded by the San Francisco Bay by Chris Strachwitz in the 1960s December 28, 2010

Posted by David W. King in Uncategorized.
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4 CDs with a 136 page, 8 1/2 x 11″ full color, hardcover book
Over 4 hours and 40 minutes of music
72 tracks, including 38 previously unissued
Over 150 photographs

On January 25, 2011 Arhoolie Records will be releasing Hear Me Howling!, a four-disc box set that features four hours and 40 minutes of music, 72 tracks altogether and a whopping 38 previously unreleased performances. The set documents recordings made by Strachwitz between 1954 and 1971 in the San Francisco bay area, and offers an invaluable snapshot of the music that could be heard in the region during the evolutionary and revolutionary years of the late-1950s and the decade of the ’60s.

Here’s what they’re saying about Hear Me Howling!:

“Long time coming. The most exciting documentation of this great music in the last 25 years. And not only will you be able to read and see, you’ll be able to hear and see, too. Enjoy!!!”  — Taj Mahal

“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. ” — Joel Selvin, Senior Pop Music Correspondent, San Francisco Chronicle

This collection is an evocative historical review of the 1960s San Francisco bay area music scene as heard and recorded by Chris Strachwitz, founder of Arhoolie Records. Text by Adam Machado provides biographical and historical context for the widely varied selection of performances. Artists include Big Mama Thornton, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Bukka White, Lightning Hopkins, Country Joe and the Fish, Dave Frederickson & Crabgrass, Debbie Green, Bob Neuwirth, Mance Lipscomb, Alice Stuart, Perry Lederman, Barbara Dane, the Hackberry Ramblers, Rev. Louis Overstreet, Rev. Gary Davis, Fred McDowell, Skip James, Vern & Ray, Clifton Chenier, Notes from the Underground, Stanley Willis, Jerry Hahn, Sonny Simmons, and many more!

Text by Adam Machado

This is a gathering of recordings made by Chris Strachwitz in the San Francisco Bay Area between 1954 and 1971. Most of them are previously unreleased, and some of the artists presented here have never appeared in the Arhoolie catalog. Whether captured at a coffee house, a festival, a professional studio, or someone’s home, the songs on these four CDs reflect a few of Chris’ musical interests during the early days of his Arhoolie label. Together, they create a sense of some of the music you might have found in and around Berkeley and the San Francisco Bay Area at any given moment during a period that has come to be known as the Folk and Blues Revival. Many young people at that time became increasingly interested in vernacular musical traditions rooted in the past. Chris was among those who located often obscure and marginalized living blues and country artists, and helped bring them to the attention of new audiences in the United States and beyond. Over the years, his recording trips have taken him thousands of miles from his home base in Berkeley. Arhoolie’s 40th anniversary box set traced those journeys through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Chicago, North Carolina, Virginia, Mexico, and as far away as Austria. With a handful of omissions, Hear Me Howling offers a document of what Chris was up to in the 1960s when he wasn’t on the road.

Some of the musicians you will find on this set lived in Berkeley, Oakland, or San Francisco; others were just visiting. In general, they came from a great variety of backgrounds and experiences: a songster from East Texas, a ragtime guitarist from the Piedmont, a protest singer from Detroit, a powerhouse jazz drummer from Oakland, an itinerant street preacher and his four sons, a Cajun string band from Louisiana, a handful of folksingers from the Northeast, the Midwest, and Berkeley itself. All told, they constituted a shifting community of musicians and friends as vital as any of the more celebrated scenes in places like Greenwich Village and Cambridge.

The last few tracks of the fourth CD reach beyond the musical styles ordinarily presented alongside ballad singers and bluesmen. In the late sixties, Chris became involved with a small but thriving avant-garde jazz community in Oakland and Berkeley. Whether southern blues, Cajun fiddle, or free jazz, it’s all good music to Chris’ ears, and forty or fifty years later gives us a broader view of what was happening in the Bay Area at the time.

CD – I:
1. Hump in My Back – Jesse Fuller*
2. Brother Low Down – Jesse Fuller*
3. Berkeley’s Junko Partner – Skid Band*
4. Tight Like That – Skid Band*
5. Moose March – Bob Mielke’s Bearcats +
6. Highway 49 – Big Joe Williams*
7. Oakland Blues – Big Joe Williams with Mary Williams*
8. Greystone (Alameda County Jail) Blues – Big Joe Williams
9. I Know You Didn’t Want Me – K.C. Douglas and band +
10. Night Shirt Blues – K.C. Douglas and band
11. Stop Time – K.C. Douglas and band*
12. Hear Me Howling – K.C. Douglas and band
13. Stand Alone Blues – Lonnie Johnson*
14. Brenda – Lonnie Johnson*
15. Changed the Lock on my Door – Sonny Terry*
16. Bald Eagle Train (take 1) – Bukka White*
17. Tom Moore’s Farm – Lightning Hopkins*
18. Up on Telegraph (Avenue) – Lightning Hopkins
19. Lady Luck – Mercy Dee

CD – II:
1. I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag – Country Joe and the Fish +
2. You Turned Your Back – Toni Brown +
3. How Could I Stand It – Toni Brown +
4. Don’t Forget Me, Love – Toni Brown +
5. Charles Giteau – Crabgrass +
6. Midnight Blues – the Joy of Cooking*
7. Depression Gone from Me – T.A. Talbott +
8. Mr. Brakeman – T.A. Talbott*
9. Who’s Going to Be My Man? – Debbie Green*
10. Come See – Bob Neuwirth*
11. Lady Gay – Janet Smith +
12. Talking Protest Blues – Merritt Herring +
13. Black Jack David – Alice Stuart
14. Eventually – Perry Lederman +
15. Impressions of John Henry – Perry Lederman +
16. Deportees – Barbara Dane
17. Grand Texas – Hackberry Ramblers*
18. Jolie Blonde – Hackberry Ramblers*
19. Turtle Tail – Hackberrry Ramblers*
20. The Beatles are in Town – the Fondettes +

CD – III:
1. Willie Poor Boy – Mance Lipscomb
2. The Titanic – Mance Lipscomb
3. Mean Boss Man – Mance Lipscomb
4. Sugar Babe – Mance Lipscomb
5. Working on a Building – Rev. Louis Overstreet*
6. The Old Ship of Zion – Rev. Louis Overstreet*
7. I’m a Soldier – Rev. Gary Davis*
8. Floor Sweepin’ Boy – Rev. Gary Davis*
9. Courtin’ Boy – Rev. Gary Davis*
10. Shake ‘Em on Down – Fred McDowell
11. Louise – Fred McDowell
12. Write Me a Few of Your Lines – Fred McDowell*
13. Low Down Dirty Things – Skip James*
14. 22-20 Blues (Mr. Kress) – Skip James*
15. Sea Walking Jesus – Skip James*
16. No Special Lover – Skip James*
17. Peace in the Valley – Skip James*

CD – IV:
1. Sweetheart You Done Me Wrong – Vern & Ray*
2. The Touch of God’s Hand – Vern & Ray*
3. ‘Fore Day in the Mornin’ – Big Mama Thornton*
4. Ball and Chain – Big Mama Thornton*
5. Hound Dog – Big Mama Thornton*
6. Monsieur Leonard – John Semien & the Opelousas Playboys*
7. Chi Ca Nai –  John Semien & the Opelousas Playboys +
8. Bye Bye Rosa – John Semien & the Opelousas Playboys*
9. Mr. Charlie – Clifton Chenier*
10. Louisiana Rock – Clifton Chenier
11. What Am I Doing Here? – Notes from the Underground +
12. To Be a Thief – Stanley Willis*
13. Pretty Good – NOW Creative Arts Ensemble +
14. In the Breeze – Jerry Hahn
15. To ‘Trane (aka: Two Trains) – Smiley Winters
16. The Beauty of Isis – Sonny Simmons

 

* = previously unreleased
+ = first time on CD

 

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