September 2nd, 2015

MICHAEL CHAPMAN – FISH – OUT SEPT 25th – U.S. TOUR DATES WITH RYLEY WALKER

** Michael will play Tompkins Square’s 10th Anniversary show with Ryley Walker, Peter Walker and Bob Brown at Rough Trade, Brooklyn NY on October 9th, 2015 ** Buy Tickets

Stereogum Premiere – “Jack”

In recent years, the revered British guitarist and songwriter has seen his classic Harvest records from the 70’s reissued by Light In the Attic, and he’s toured with Bill Callahan, Kurt Vile, Thurston Moore and Bonnie “Prince” Billy. On the eve of the Fully Qualified Survivor’s 75th birthday, ‘Fish’ finds Chapman vital as ever. Tompkins Square also released Chapman’s 2010 double CD ‘Trainsong : Guitar Compositions 1967-2010′ and a tribute album, ‘Oh Michael, Look What You’ve Done : Friends Play Michael Chapman’ featuring Hiss Golden Messenger, William Tyler, Lucinda Williams and Thurston Moore among others.

“The footnotes and legends that line Chapman’s 40-year career are the stuff of thick biographies and fireside storytelling sessions.” – PITCHFORK

Also Available :
Oh Michael, Look What You’ve Done : Friends Play Michael Chapman
Trainsong : Guitar Compositions 1967-2010

Michael Chapman / Ryley Walker tour dates :
10/08/15 North Bethesda, MD (USA) AMP
10/09/15 Brooklyn, NY (USA) Rough Trade
10/10/15 Portland, ME (USA) Waking Windows Music And Arts
10/11/15 Providence, RI (USA) Columbus Theater
10/13/15 Albany, NY (USA) The Low Beat
10/14/15 Northampton, MA (USA) Iron Horse Music Hall

July 24th, 2015

RYLEY WALKER PRODUCES JOHN HULBURT REISSUE – OUT AUGUST 28

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LISTEN TO “THE FREAK ON THE BLACK HARLEY”

Stereogum Premiere

Guitarist and singer-songwriter Ryley Walker discovered the 1972 private press LP in a Chicago record store, loved what he heard, and teamed with Tompkins Square to produce the reissue.

John Hulburt (1947-2012) was a member of legendary mid-60’s Chicago garage rock band The Knaves, whose records were recently reissued by Sundazed. Opus III showcases his exceptional talent on the acoustic guitar, proving somewhat of an anomaly in a city not known for its solo guitar recordings during this era.

Walker writes in his liner notes, “Solo acoustic guitar music was adopted by several in the Berkeley school and the ever expansive roots fanatics in the South, but here in the middle of the country with harsh winters and the landlocked prison of corn fields, it was almost destiny that the amplifier assault of electric blues and controlled chaos of dance music came from the South Side.”

Opus III has another notable Chicago connection : It’s one of the earliest studio credits for Styx and Ohio Players engineer / producer Barry Mraz. Styx’s debut album would also be released in 1972.

The reissue of Opus III includes illuminating liner notes by John Hulburt’s sister, Cynthia Fritz; The Knaves’ Gene Lubin; and Ryley Walker, as well as vintage photographs.

‘Opus III’ Originally Released as Clarence Records CR-003, 1972
Recorded at Plynth Studios, Chicago February/March 1972
Engineer : Barry Mraz

PRODUCED FOR REISSUE BY RYLEY WALKER & JOSH ROSENTHAL

Available AUGUST 28, 2015
CD : TSQ 5159 / LP : TSQ 5166

April 6th, 2015

REMEMBERING MOUNTAINS : UNHEARD SONGS BY KAREN DALTON – OUT NOW

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LP/CD/DIGITAL

STEREOGUM PREMIERE : SHARON VAN ETTEN – “Remembering Mountains”

Karen Dalton (1937-1993) recorded two studio albums during her lifetime, neither of which contain any songs she wrote. By the good graces of legendary guitarist Peter Walker, who oversees Karen’s Estate, we are gifted with these lost lyrics, now given voice by other great women of song.

TRACK LIST :

1) REMEMBERING MOUNTAINS – SHARON VAN ETTEN
2) ALL THAT SHINES IS NOT TRUTH – PATTY GRIFFIN
3) THIS IS OUR LOVE – DIANE CLUCK
4) MY LOVE, MY LOVE – JULIA HOLTER
5) MET AN OLD FRIEND – LUCINDA WILLIAMS
6) SO LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY – MARISSA NADLER
7) BLUE NOTION – LAUREL HALO
8 ) FOR THE LOVE I’M IN – LARKIN GRIMM
9) DON’T MAKE IT EASY – ISOBEL CAMPBELL
10) AT LAST THE NIGHT HAS ENDED – TARA JANE O’NEIL
11) MET AN OLD FRIEND – JOSEPHINE FOSTER

AVAILABLE ON TOMPKINS SQUARE
INgrooves in NA, Cargo UK for EU/UK
CD : TSQ 5173 / LP : TSQ 5180

December 31st, 2014

IMAGINATIONAL ANTHEM vol. 7 – OUT NOW !!

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STREAM THE ENTIRE ALBUM VIA FRETBOARD JOURNAL

“Once again, the greatest thing going in acoustic guitar” – THE FADER

‘Imaginational Anthem Vol. 7′ is compiled by 20 year old guitarist Hayden Pedigo, from Amarillo, TX. Hayden has recently been featured in Vogue and The FADER behind his own recent album release, ‘Five Steps’. Hayden’s curation represents a balanced cross-section across the modern solo acoustic guitar spectrum. As with previous volumes, this one truly represents the state of the art – an area of evolving musical expression that is very vibrant and healthy indeed. MOJO – **** !!

Post/share a track from IA7 – Simon Scott (of Slowdive) – “Trees Return To Soil”

Track Listing :

1.On a Slow Passing Through a Ghost Town-Chuck Johnson
2.Culverts-Sean Proper
3.Enchiridion-Norberto Lobo
4.Trees Return to Soil-Simon Scott
5.Sea Retreat-DBH
6.Araucaria-Jordan Norton
7.The Great North American Wilderness-Kyle Fosburgh
8.Something, or Oil Paintings-Christoph Bruhn
9.USA Self-Michael Vallera
10.Red Bud Valley-Dylan Golden Aycock
11.0/3-M.Mucci
12.Shadow Study at 6 am-Mariano Rodriguez
13.Olympic Peninsula Blues-Andrew Weathers
14.My Grandfather’s 12 Gauge-Wes Tirey

December 8th, 2014

** GRAMMY NEWS **

At 80, Alice Gerrard receives her first Grammy nomination, for ‘Follow The Music’, Best Folk Album. The first for her, the seventh for Tompkins Square. Big ups to Michael Taylor for producing, and making it happen.

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November 11th, 2014

WHEN I REACH THAT HEAVENLY SHORE : UNEARTHLY BLACK GOSPEL, 1926-1936

Among the most powerful music to be captured on 78 rpm in America during the 1920s & 1930s are those recordings of black sanctified and gospel singing. Ranging from plaintive mourning to unbridled ecstasy, the sacred music from this time period represents a flowering of diverse and idiosyncratic rural songs styles. At no time was there a wider panorama of religious songs in America.

Selected exclusively from Christopher King’s private collection, the 78s included here represent the most unhinged, the most compelling survey of pre-war black gospel. The complete recorded output of the Primitive Baptist Choir of North Carolina is also included in this collection for the first time. Several rare & previously unissued photographs are also contained within. Lovingly and respectfully designed by Susan Archie and firmly grounded in Scripture by Christopher King.

October 17th, 2014

BESSIE JONES – GET IN UNION – OCTOBER 27th

“A folk and gospel classic” – 4 stars – The Guardian
4 1/2 stars – All Music Guide
“Highest recommendation” – Other Music

* Produced by Grammy-nominated Curator of the Alan Lomax Archive, Nathan Salsburg
* Features 26 previously unreleased tracks. Unheard collaborations with Rev. Gary Davis, Sweet Papa Stovepipe, Mable Hillery, and others.
* Remastered from Lomax’s original tapes

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Bessie Jones was one of the most popular performers on the 1960s and ’70s folk circuit, appearing-usually at the helm of the Georgia Sea Island Singers-at colleges, festivals, the Poor People’s March on Washington, and Jimmy Carter’s inauguration. “Get In Union” is a collection of her classic recordings with the Singers, combined with many previously unavailable solo and small-group performances captured by Alan Lomax between 1959 and 1966.

Alan Lomax first visited the Georgia Sea Island of St. Simons in June of 1935 with folklorist Mary Elizabeth Barnicle and author Zora Neale Hurston. There they met the remarkable Spiritual Singers Society of Coastal Georgia, as the group was then called, and recorded several hours of their songs and dances for the Library of Congress. Returning 25 years later, Lomax found that the Singers were still active, and had been enriched by the addition of Bessie Jones, a South Georgia native with a massive collection of songs going back to the slavery era. Over the next several years, Lomax and Jones worked together to present, promote, and teach Southern black folk song across the country, from nightclubs to elementary schools. “Get In Union” features freshly remastered audio from 24-bit digital transfers of Lomax’s original tapes and notes by the Alan Lomax Archive’s Nathan Salsburg and Anna Lomax Wood, who accompanied her father on his 1960 recordings of Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers.

September 8th, 2014

ALICE GERRARD – FOLLOW THE MUSIC – SEPT 30

“Alice Gerrard has one of those voices that harkens back to the likes of Sara and Maybelle. She is the real deal with the right stuff and hasn’t forgotten where country music came from.”
- Emmylou Harris, June 2014

“This new Alice Gerrard album is next level” – UNCUT

NPR MORNING EDITION FEATURE

The trailblazing folksinger famously collaborated with Hazel Dickens. Their classic recordings for Folkways and Rounder in the ’60’s and 70’s “rank among the most influential recordings in folk music history,” (All Music Guide), and laid the groundwork for many artists, especially female bluegrass and folk musicians.

‘Follow The Music’ features traditional tunes and original songs by Alice, produced by Hiss Golden Messenger’s M.C. Taylor, and features members of Hiss Golden Messenger and Megafaun. Available on LP/CD/DL via Tompkins Square, September 30th, 2014.

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August 12th, 2014

SMOKE DAWSON – ‘FIDDLE’ – LP/CD/DL

SMOKE DAWSON – ‘FIDDLE’ – 1971 Private Press LP Reissued on LP / CD/ DL August 19th

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Notes by reissue producer / Tompkins Square label owner Josh Rosenthal :

I was doing some research for a box set of music recorded at Caffe Lena, the hallowed folk music venue located in Saratoga Springs, NY, when I came upon a photograph of a musician I didn’t recognize. He looked like a sixth member of The Band – a handsome fiddler with wax moustache, goatee, black Western hat. There was a traditional air to him, a seriousness, but there was also something wild there. I needed to know who he was, and everything about him. The producers told me his name was Smoke Dawson, and they had tape on him. We listened, and his live version of “Devil’s Dream” made it onto the box set. Then I started digging. I found a 1996 blog post from someone named Oliver Seeler, who claimed to have recorded a solo album by Dawson in 1971. I called the number on the site, not expecting much from an 18 year old blog post. But he picked up. He gave me background on the record. And, he gave me Smoke Dawson’s phone number.

George Dawson was born June 5, 1935 in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, New York. His father was an Irish immigrant blacksmith who worked for years on the Brooklyn Bridge. He was an Irish choral tenor singer, and his wife, a Philadelphia native of Irish descent, sang as well. Around 1955, George picked up the banjo and started meeting fellow musicians. In March of 1960, George joined a trio, MacGrundy’s Old-Timey Wool Thumpers, with Rob Hunter on guitar (not of Grateful Dead fame) and Peter Stampfel (of Holy Modal Rounders fame) on fiddle and mandolin. That was Peter’s first band too. “Wool Thumpers was a euphemism for fucking,” Peter recalls. “George played banjo, he was an extremely good player, and a wrestler and a weightlifter. There was a half-way house for bad Jewish girls who had been sent to a mental facility called Hillside. There were periodic reunions of the bad girls, and they hired our group to play. Paying gigs were extremely rare at the time. The woman who ran the show hated us. We had a choreographed stunt that we had planned. We’re playing “Dallas Rag”, Rob has a pipe in his mouth, and Dawson swings his banjo into Rob’s face, and the pipe goes flying right into the boss lady matron’s forehead and there’s a big loud gasp. Rob and Dawson fell down on the floor laughing . . .” And so it began. According to George, it was actually Peter’s proficiency on banjo that turned him into a fiddle player. “Peter was such a good banjo player. I said, ‘Why don’t I learn the fiddle and you can play the banjo’.” Or as Peter tells it, “George took a fuck-ton of speed and came back in a couple of weeks playing fiddle better than I did.” Around 1962, George was a new father to a boy named Wade (named after old-time banjo player Wade Ward). But he left his family behind, and ran off with Peter’s wife.

George began frequenting Caffe Lena in 1960, playing there October 14th and 15th of that year with Rob Hunter. George would live at the Caffe on and off for eight years. “It was the nicest place I knew of in the whole country. I helped cook, painted, I had romances there. It was the place I came of age.” He also immersed himself in the West Village folk scene, hanging out at Izzy Young’s Folklore Center, seeing Dave Van Ronk, Tom Paxton, Jack Elliott. “There was no one playing fiddle and suddenly I was in demand. I watched Dylan slowly sink into the scene. I ran a Sunday afternoon show at the Gaslight for (owner) John Mitchell.” Eager to discover the influences of so many folk artists during the period, George took an extensive Southern road trip. “I looked up people who Alan Lomax recorded. I lived in North Carolina and Virginia and spent a week with Doc Watson and Wade Ward. Eventually I moved to Florida, playing on the bar circuit, on the street. Then I drifted to California, chasing a girl. Went back and forth to Saratoga but stayed in California from 1968 on.”

Dawson played bagpipes at the California Renaissance Pleasure Faires, and busked on the streets of San Francisco. He fell in with a collective called Golden Toad, a rotating troupe of folk musicians led by Robert Donovan Thomas, a charismatic bagpipe player who designed the Grateful Dead’s skull and lightning bolt logo. Their first gig took place at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, and although original member Mickey Zeckley claims it was recorded, there’s no evidence of this, and sadly no other recordings of the group are known to exist. Golden Toad would open for the Dead on occasion (never with George). Zeckley remembers, “George was a crazy, wacky guy who could play a hell of a fiddle. He was with Suzy Marceau, who had a green card marriage to Marcel Marceau’s son.”

On the afternoon of October 20, 1968, George joined his girlfriend Ruth Denny Decker Sennepf, and another couple on the Mendocino Headlands, a rugged stretch of coastline, while “experiencing enhanced consciousness” as George recalls, out on the rocks, watching the waves. A “sneaker” wave came and swept them in. George and the other couple were caught between some rocks down below and escaped, but Denny, as George called her, was swept away, and drowned. The Ukiah Daily Journal reported the story on October 21, 1968 : ‘ A 27-year-old Mendocino woman drowned Sunday at 1 :30 p.m. when she was swept from a rock by a towering wave. Victim was Ruth Denny Decker Sennepf, formerly of Mill Valley, who was sitting on the rock when she was swept away. Her companions, two men and a woman, escaped.’ Fellow Mendocino resident Ramblin’ Jack Elliott knew George in the early 70’s, and recalled the story. Folk musician Bob Gibson describes a lonely bagpipe player who can be heard in the Mendocino night in his tune “Smoke Dawson,” which recounts the incident. “George went home and burned his fiddle and swore he would never play again,” says Zeckley.

Oliver Seeler, a bagpipe player inspired by Golden Toad and Robert Thomas, recorded fellow busker Dawson in 1971 in Sea Ranch, CA. Seeler would go on to build bagpipes and run a world bagpipe website. The studio was situated near an airport, which made recording difficult. Oliver describes George as restless and uncomfortable in the studio, but George remembers a kid coming in with very good hash. Either way, what we hear is remarkable. “My whole training came from Mozart’s father’s book about violin technique (Versuch einer gründlichen Violinschule).” A tune like “The Minotaur” however, sounds like a swarm of bees violently shaken out of their hive. Where did he come up with that technique ? “I made it up. But my influence is from baroque violin, and on bagpipes I know Dutch, German, Spanish, Welsh and great tunes from a couple of hundred years ago.” These are traditional tunes leavened with a touch of sorcery (see cover), a bit of Mendocino hippie, an audible ’60’s hangover. 750 copies of the album were manufactured.

In 1972, Dawson took the stage at Ash Grove with The White Brothers (Clarence, Roland & Eric), their father Eric White, Sr., LeRoy Mack and Pat Cloud. There is a photo from the show. A fiddle player was needed and George somehow got the call. Roland recalls George as a fine player although a somewhat awkward fit, with George playing in a traditional old-timey style maybe not best suited for a bluegrass group. It would be the last moment in the limelight for Smoke Dawson, at least in terms of playing with nationally recognized artists. “I’ve been a computer programmer for IBM, a commercial fisherman, blacksmith, aerial photographer, goldmining engineer, wrestler, entertainer,” Dawson says. “I’ve played music for three to eight hours a day for thirty, forty years.”

In 1992, George was diagnosed with cancer at the base of his tongue, was given six months to live, and went through experimental treatment protocol. The treatment was devastating and it took five years for him to recover. On his way from Eugene to Spokane WA, he collapsed. And he has stayed in that same small town in Washington state ever since. Although he was left with essential tremor and other debilitating effects from radiation, he continued to play bagpipes. His town bought him a beautiful set so he could play weddings, funerals and town events. He is in touch with his four sons, from four different relationships.

“I row a boat, smoke dope, my girlfriend of twenty years is in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s Disease. I talk to fish, deer, birds.” George turns reflective. “I was cuckoo, couldn’t get along in the world. The music always saved me. It got me friends, it got me shelter”.

“I could go into my own Dreamworld.”

- Josh Rosenthal
San Francisco, CA
May 2014

Photograph by Joe Alper

Smoke Dawson on his lawn. Washington State, August 2014. Photo by Josh Rosenthal

June 2nd, 2014

JAMES BLACKSHAW – FANTOMAS : LE FAUX MAGISTRAT – OUT NOW !



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Live album features Simon Scott (Slowdive), Duane Pitre. 2LP/CD/DL.

STREAM THE ALBUM AND WATCH A PERFORMANCE VIDEO VIA STEREOGUM PREMIERE

In celebration of the centenary of Louis Feuillade’s Fantômas silent film series, James Blackshaw was invited by Yann Tiersen to perform a live score to the fifth and final film, Le Faux Magistrat, at the beautiful and prestigious surroundings of the Théâtre de Châtelet, Paris on October 31st 2013.

Fantômas – a master of disguise and symbol of terror – is one of the most popular characters in French crime fiction, as well as a favourite with the avant-garde, particularly the surrealists.

Tim Hecker, Amiina, Yann Tiersen and Loney Dear also performed during the event (which was broadcast live on the European ARTE channel) each bringing their own unique sonic perspective to the other installments in the series.

Written during the course of a few months, Blackshaw drew influences from French impressionist composers, Brazillian guitar music, musique concrete and the works of other film composer such as David Shire and Pino Donaggio, to create a noirish score that is in turns sinister, quietly profound and thrilling.

Personally invited by James Blackshaw, experimental musicians Duane Pitre and Simon Scott (also of Slowdive) contributed drums, electronics, synth, bowed guitar, bass and more to Blackshaw’s nylon string guitar and grand piano, with multi-instrumentalist Charlotte Glasson adding violin, vibraphone and several wind instruments to the 75 minute long work.

MOJO **** Four stars
“Considerably broadens the composer’s palette”

Blackshaw’s new music is the sound of someone actively pressing against the boundaries of expectation. ‘Fantômas’ is Blackshaw’s most audacious attempt yet to shatter that mold. – Pitchfork

Popmatters
“It may be Blackshaw’s most ambitious work yet, and another variation on his ever expanding repertoire of talents.”

All Music Guide **** Four stars
“We heard bits and pieces that suggested Blackshaw was capable of a more expansive work, but nothing that hinted at the exquisite juxtaposition of tension, texture, tone, and harmonic color that ‘Fantômas: Le Faux Magistrat’ delivers”

Tiny Mix Tapes **** Four stars
“An incredible melody writer and musician in a tradition that existed long before him; he writes guitar and folk music as well as Robbie Basho or Leo Kottke, but he does not copy them.”

Secret Decoder
“A massive, gorgeous accomplishment”

WIRE MAGAZINE
“Blackshaw’s application of a wide variety of instrumental textures (including flute, piano, saxophone, bowed bass, electronics) is admirably assured . . .”

“An ambitious undertaking that succeeds due to a lively combination of respect and invention” (A-)
- Vinyl District