When Arhoolie Records reached its 50th anniversary in February 2011, it celebrated in grand style.
The acclaimed roots-music label in El Cerrito, founded by the great music documentarian Chris Strachwitz, invited several talented friends and admirers to mark the occasion during a weekend-long music festival at the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley. The cast of performers included Ry Cooder, the Treme Brass Band, the Campbell Brothers, the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band, Laurie Lewis, Peter Rowan, Country Joe McDonald and Suzy and Eric Thompson. The performances were representative of the label's diverse back catalog, which includes everything from blues and folk to Cajun and Zydeco to Tejano and regional Mexican music.
Now, fans can relive the magic with "They All Played for Us: Arhoolie Records' 50th Anniversary Celebration." This gorgeous set consists of a 192-page book, with more than 175 color photos and text from the artists who performed at the concerts. It also includes four CDs, which deliver nearly five hours of music from the performances.
The set retails for $59.95 and is now available at www.arhoolie.com.
Latin jazz live: Pete Escovedo is a marvel on the live stage. San Francisco's annual Stern Grove Festival is one of the most cherished cultural institutions in the Bay Area.
The two local treasures came together last season, when the Pride of Pittsburg performed at the admission-free festival. We now have a document of that moment -- Escovedo's newly released "Live From Stern Grove Festival" ($16.98).
The set, which hit stores Tuesday, features the legendary Latin jazz percussionist leading his fine band through such favorites as Tito Puente's "Picadillo Jam," Wayne Wallace's "Take Some Time" and the standard "Fly Me to the Moon."
Of course, it's usually a family affair whenever Escovedo takes the stage. Included in the Stern Grove musical mix are Escovedo's sons, Juan and Peter Michael, as well as his daughter, Sheila E., the percussionist known for her work with Prince, Ringo Starr and George Duke.
The album also features appearances by guitarist Ray Obiedo, saxophonist Dave Koz and trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, who shows up on the closing number, "Suenos de los Torreros."
Psychedelic singles: Contrary to what the Phish "Phans" might tell you, there is such a thing as radio-friendly psychedelic rock.
Don't believe me? Well, the proof can be found on "Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-68," a new CD compilation from Rhino Records.
OK, so it's sort of "new." This same collection was first released in 1972 by Elektra Records. However, it's new on CD -- and it's been remastered from the original analog tapes.
The collection consists of 27 (roughly) three-minute-long songs, originally tailored to appeal to the AM radio stations of the day. Most of those stations abhorred "long" songs, so psychedelic rockers had to limit their jams if they wanted airtime. Thus, the electric-guitar odysseys (and oddities), which were so much a part of the psychedelic-rock concert experience, often were kept to a minimum on the singles.
There are some true "Nuggets" on this collection, which was originally compiled by the legendary Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye. Expect some major flashbacks as you listen to the Electric Prunes' "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)," the Strangeloves' "Night Time," Mouse's "A Public Execution," the Remains' "Don't Look Back" and all the other treasures.
"Nuggets" is a trip, that's for sure. But it's one well worth taking. The disc retails for $18.98 (www.rhino.com).
"Live Jive": While we're talking '60s radio, I'd really be remiss if I didn't mention the great new "KSAN Live Jive" CD.
The archival disc celebrates the innovative and highly influential Bay Area FM station, which helped pioneer the free-form rock-radio format in the '60s and the '70s. The compilation consists of 20 tracks, from short "station identifications" to lengthier live broadcasts.
The artists featured on the set include the Grateful Dead, Santana, Jesse Colin Young, the Doobie Brothers, the Persuasions, Boz Scaggs, Cold Blood, Stoneground and Jefferson Airplane. There are also bits from the station's truly legendary DJ, Tom Donahue.
The CD benefits the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic and retails for $20 (www.live-jive.org).
Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic, www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.