Archive for June, 2011

To What Strange Place : The Music of the Ottoman-American Diaspora, 1916-1929

Friday, June 10th, 2011

View the Trailer

Before the Golden Age of Americana on Record, immigrants from the dissolving Ottoman Empire were singing their joys and sorrows to disc in New York City. The virtuosic musicians from Anatolia, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Levant living in the U.S. who recorded between WWI and the Depression are presented here across two discs, along with a third disc of masterpieces they imported as memories on shellac-and-stone. The intermingled lives and musics of Christians, Jews, and Muslims represent Middle Eastern culture as it existed within the U.S. a century ago.

A fascinating, new view of American Folk Music.
Compiled by IAN NAGOSKI.
Designed by Susan Archie.

Ian Nagoski feature, Washington Post


8.3 “It feels as essential to an understanding of American music as
anything else.”
- PItchfork

4.5/5 “a beautiful and labyrinthine Americana, one that stretches
confines of the definition of the word itself. It is an essential
document for collectors of world music, but also for those interested
in the unsung personas that created 20th century America.”
- AllMusic

‎”Comparisons with Harry Smith’s anthology or Revenant’s American
Primitive are in order, not least because this is American music with
a capital A, animated by the same feelings of desperation, nostalgia,
the quest for cheap kicks and the agony of loss. Like Smith, Nagoski
is a Walter Benjamin visionary, using his collection of 78s to
hallucinate a history that actually happened but which remains hidden
beneath official dogma and nationalisms.”
-The Wire, August 2011

5/5 “…spend a little time with it and the joys, sorrows, yearnings
and pride of a life spent far, far away from home will creep into your
- Record Collector

“Our highest award is five stars but in my opinion, you could double
that for this priceless collection. I’m convinced this perfectly
produced set is destined to win some huge award this year because it’s
absolutely faultless.”

-The Scotsman

“‎a massive treasury of world music roots, providing context,
contemplation, and wonder over the course of just a few hours.”
-Short and Sweet NYC

“Ian Nagoski’s To What Strange Place is a work of great beauty.”
- Jace Clayton / DJ /rupture, WFMU

“”I was entranced; I was FASCINATED. It is one of the most worthwhile
purchases you will make this year. I went and got mine; I think you
should, too.”
- Henry Rollins, KCRW

Baltimore City Paper
The National, Dubai, UAE

The Wire

Spencer Moore, 1919-2011

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Country singer Spencer Moore, age 92, born Raymond Spencer Moore on February 7, 1919, passed away on Sunday June 5, 2011 at Valley Health Care Center, Chilhowie VA.

Born into a family of 11 children on February 7, 1919 in the northwestern corner of North Carolina, Spencer was introduced to old-time music early on. After the family moved across the mountains to Laurel Bloomery, the Moore family was exposed to more old-time music via their neighbor, the blind fiddler and singer, G.B. Grayson. Spencer’s father acquired a wind-up phonograph and records. Hearing records by the likes of Charlie Poole, Jimmie Rodgers, Riley Puckett and their neighbor, G.B. Grayson, stoked the fires of Spencer’s love of old-time music that much more. A few dollars bought him a guitar from Sears and Roebuck via the mail. In 1933, at age 14, Spencer attended the famous Whitetop Mountain Folk Festival. There he heard Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt sing “Three Little Babes,” an old British ballad also known as “The Wife of Usher’s Well.”

By the late 1930’s, Spencer and his brother Joe were performing publicly themselves as the Moore Brothers in the Delmore Brothers style. It was during this period that the Moores performed in a tent-show with the Carter Family.

In 1959, famed folklorist Alan Lomax along with Shirley Collins came into the hills of southwest Virginia to collect Blue Ridge mountain music. Lomax recorded a number of pieces by Spencer including Jimmy Sutton and The Girl I Left Behind. The performances were released on Atlantic and Prestige Records. Lomax called him “as genuine as a rail fence.”

In a rustic mountain home perched on a green hillside of the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia, Spencer Moore remained almost untouched by modernity. He provided his own entertainment on an acoustic guitar over a half century old. Knowing between 500-600 songs by heart, he could sing you most any old-time song known in that part of the Blue Ridge.

In 2007, Tompkins Square’s Josh Rosenthal returned to the same house that Lomax visited and recorded Spencer Moore’s solo, self-titled debut album.

We have lost one of the last links to early country music, and the true roots of Blue Ridge mountain music.