Bonnie Raitt, Billy Gibbons Set for Arhoolie 60th Anniversary Show - Rolling Stone
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Bonnie Raitt, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons to Celebrate 60th Anniversary of Arhoolie Records

Taj Mahal, Ry Cooder also set for virtual concert honoring venerable label that’s long specialized in regional folk music

bonnie raitt billy gibbons

Amy Harris/Invision/AP; Anthony Behar/Sipa USA/AP

Bonnie Raitt and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons are among the artists set to perform at a special free virtual concert celebrating the 60th anniversary of the famed folk label, Arhoolie Records, December 10th at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

The concert will air on YouTube and will be hosted by Nick Spitzer of the syndicated public radio music show, American Routes. Other performers include Taj Mahal, Ry Cooder, Charlie Musselwhite, Del McCoury, Los Texmaniacs, Los Tigres del Norte, Savoy Family Band, La Marisoul, Cedric Watson, and the Campbell Brothers. The musicians will perform songs from the Arhoolie catalog and speak about the label’s impact on their own work. Viewers will be encouraged to donate to the Arhoolie Foundation, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

The show will also include the third annual Arhoolie Awards, which honors musicians, groups, and individuals who “carry on and uplift roots and regional musical styles,” per a press release. This year’s recipients will be Sugar Pie DeSanto, Courtney Granger, and the Roots of Music, while Flaco Jiménez will receive the Chris Strachwitz Legacy Award.

Chris Strachwitz founded Arhoolie in 1960 and crafted an impressive catalog filled with 20th-century blues, zydeco, Tejano, and an array of other forms of regional folk music (Big Mama Thornton, Lightinin’ Hopkins, and Mississippi Fred McDowell are among the artists who released records on Arhoolie). Smithsonian Folkways acquired the Arhoolie catalog in 2016.

To further celebrate the label’s 60th anniversary, Folkways has launched a new digital exhibition on Arhoolie, which features rare images, essays, playlists, and a definitive discography. Folkways has also launched a Bandcamp page for Arhoolie, making over 100 titles available on the service for the first time.

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