Hear Me Howling!
is an anthology of recordings made by Chris Strachwitz in the San Francisco Bay Area between 1954 and 1971 in the early days of his Arhoolie record label. Arranged chronologically over four discs and 72 tracks, and packaged with a 136-page hardcover book, these sides (many of them previously unreleased) were recorded at coffeehouses, festivals, and living rooms, and sometimes in professional studios, and they reveal an intimate history of what has come to be seen as the Bay Area folk and blues revival. That alone makes this set a valuable historical archive, but the music itself is wonderful too, and includes rare performances by Lonnie Johnson
("Stand Alone Blues"), Bukka White
("Bald Eagle Train"), Lightnin' Hopkins ("Tom Moore's Farm"), Barbara Dane
("Deportees"), Fred McDowell
("Shake 'Em on Down"), Skip James
("Peace in the Valley"), and Big Mama Thornton
("Hound Dog"), among many others. It captures a time. It also poses the template that Strachwitz would follow with his Arhoolie label, presenting and preserving roots music in an onrushing world where pop trends were being brought up and tossed off like so much confetti. Music needs community to survive in good health. This delightful set documents such a community.