Chris Strachwitz discovered the first performer for his Arhoolie Records label by quizzing roadside field hands, a prosperous cotton farmer named Mr. Tom Moore, and a man called Peg Leg at a railroad station in Navasota, Texas.
As Strachwitz tells it, Peg Leg identified a highway worker and former tenant farmer who entertained local folks: Mance Lipscomb.
“Mance Lipscomb, Texas Sharecropper and Songster,” was recorded in 1960 in the musician’s shotgun house, and it launched Lipscomb into the surging U.S. folk-music revival.
It also launched German-born Strachwitz on a half-century career of uncovering and popularizing vernacular “roots music” of the Americas. That includes the blues of black Americans, the Zydeco of Louisiana’s Creoles, Mexican norteño and Tejano conjunto music, and other styles that spring from deep cultural wells and get crowds dancing in obscure rooms.
“I probably should have become a detective,” Strachwitz told Reuters in a telephone interview. “Meeting all these people was an intriguing adventure. I didn’t have to go on a safari, hunting for elephants or something. I hunted musicians.”
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