Celebrate American Roots Music with the Arhoolie Awards

Article Contributed by Dennis McNally | Published on Monday, March 14, 2022

Beginning in 1960, Arhoolie Records gathered and shared a wide swath of one of America’s most precious artifacts, its roots music.  The Arhoolie Foundation continues to steward this great legacy, and on March 26th at 6 pm (Pacific) will celebrate with a streaming 75-minute video, “The Arhoolie Awards,” which will feature archival footage, contemporary performances by some wonderful newcomers, the warm presence of host Charlie Musselwhite, and awards to groups and individuals who help nurture the tradition and ensure that it stays vital and rewarding.

The show is an extraordinary kaleidoscope of performers and styles, from the pioneering country vocalist Rose Maddox to the incredible work of Miko Marks (and the Resurrectors), a young Black woman ripping up Hank Williams’ “Move It On Over.”  One of Arhoolie’s favored musical realms is mariachi music, and we get to see Lalo Guerrero, the musical conscience of Mexican America, backed by Mariachi Los Gavilanes of Oakland, and then the delightful young women of Dueto Dos Rosas, who are enjoying amazing success on the internet.  The story includes a trip to the bayou country west of New Orleans and the Cajun music of the Savoy family.

The awards go to the venerable, like Bobby Black, one of the first generation of pedal steel players in America, and to the youth-centric Jalopy Theatre and School of Music in Brooklyn, with a special thank you to the legendary blues harp player and vocalist Charlie Musselwhite.

Music is the expressed heart of the American experience, and comes in a wide array of forms, each a floor, as Leonard Cohen put it, in the Tower of Song.  Arhoolie seemingly has an office on every floor:  just look.

“The Arhoolie Awards” will be available on nugs.net, the Arhoolie Foundation websites, and many of the performers’ websites.

Segment one: Old Time/Folk music

Archive: Maria Muldaur with Eric and Suzy Thompson – “In My Girlish Days” (2010)

New filmed performance: Nora Brown - “Cold Creek March” (using legendary New Lost City Rambler founder John Cohen’s banjo)

Arhoolie Award Winner – Jalopy Theatre and School of Music, Brooklyn

Segment Two: Country

Archive: Rose Maddox (with C&W Band): “Mule Skinner Blues” (1990)

New Filmed performance: Miko Marks and the Resurrectors – “Move It On Over”

Arhoolie Award Winner – Bobby Black

Segment Three: Sacred Steel

Archive: Campbell Brothers – “Amazing Grace” (2010)

New Filmed Performance: Alvin Lee (Lee Boys) and Dontrail Wright – “Don’t Let The Devil Ride”

Arhoolie Award Winner: Chuck Campbell

Segment Four: Mexican American Music

Archive: Mariachi Los Gavilanes de Oakland with Lalo Guerrero – “La Canción Mexicana” (1995)

New filmed performance: Las Dos Rosas – “Tu Conciencia”

Arhoolie Award Winner: Ruben Castillo Juarez, Los Pingüinos del Norte

Segment Five: Cajun Music

Savoy Smith Band (with Ed Littlefield) – “Amede Two Step” (1995)

New Filmed performance: Joel Savoy/Wilson Savoy – “Poor Hobo”

Arhoolie Award Winner (Patron of Traditional Music): Ed Littlefield

Chris Strachwitz Legacy Award:  Charlie Musselwhite