June 23rd, 2013

Let Me Play This For You : Rare Cajun Recordings

SPIN has selected ‘Let Me Play This For You : Rare Cajun Recordings’ as one of the 15 Best Reissues of 2013 thus far. “Cajun hauntology at its most eerily insinuating.”

This latest installment in the Long Gone Sound series features some of the rarest, most compelling tunes and heart-breaking songs from South-West Louisiana. Most of the performances on this collection have not been heard since they were originally recorded on 78 rpm disc and yet they serve as a discrete Rosetta Stone for the traditional Cajun and Creole repertoire that exists today. Not to be understated, this collection features some of the most vexingly rare & valuable Cajun 78s ever recorded. Cajun discs such as those found in this release are valued not only for their magnificent artistry but also because of their desperate scarcity.

In the isolated back-water bayous & prairies of South-West Louisiana a profoundly unique and powerful form of indigenous music developed among the French speaking white Cajuns and black Creoles. Drawing from a rich range of cultural sounds, this music was first recorded in the 1920s & 1930s and featured such luminaries as Amede Ardoin, Dennis McGee and Joe & Cleoma Falcon. This special collection includes all of Percy Babineaux & Bixy Guidry’s 1929 recordings and most of Angelas Le Jeune’s 1929-1930 recordings with Denus McGee & Ernest Fruge. Found within is also the newly “discovered” 78 of Blind Uncle Gaspard & Delma Lachney. Respectfully crafted by Christopher King, Susan Archie & Ron Brown for Tompkins Square.

‘Let Me Play This For You: Rare Cajun Recordings – Babineaux & Guidry, Angelas Le Jeune, & Blind Uncle Gaspard, 1929-1930 ‘ Available June 25th, 2013 (TSQ 2912)

HEAR 3 SONGS

May 13th, 2013

Turn Me Loose : Outsiders of ‘Old-Time’ Music

Frank Fairfield curates another reissue of 78 rpm records – this time with the help of a few of his collector friends. The collection focuses on some of the most seldom acknowledged varieties of Anglo-American vernacular music. You’ll hear unusual performers, uncommon instrumentation and great fiddlers from California to Ohio, New Mexico to West Virginia. Forget “Americana”, this collection shows Anglo-American down-home music as it actually was and in many cases (although largely unrecognized) still is. With painstaking audio restoration by the great Michael Kieffer (Origin Jazz Library).

‘Turn Me Loose’ is Frank’s second compilation of 78s. ‘Unheard Ofs Forgotten Abouts’, released on Pawn/Tompkins Square in 2010, provides a broad view of the “Gramophone era”, specifically concerning the recording of vernacular music from around the world: from Atlanta, Georgia to Kisumu, Kenya; from the the 10’s to the 60’s. Frank Fairfield has released two studio albums on Tompkins Square, and recently self-released a new CD. He tours Europe this summer.

LISTEN !

March 27th, 2013

Imaginational Anthem vol 6 & Charlie Poole

IMAGINATIONAL ANTHEM VOL. 6 : ORIGINS OF AMERICAN PRIMITIVE GUITAR
Gatefold LP/CD/DL

If American Primitive Guitar begins with John Fahey and the Takoma School, then the actual origins of this sound are found within this collection of fourteen classic solo guitar performances. Recorded between 1923 to 1930, this set is the “Rosetta Stone” of style and repertoire tapped into deeply by Fahey, Basho & Rose, among many others. Sam McGee, Riley Puckett, Bayless Rose, Sylvester Weaver, Lemuel Turner, Frank Hutchison and Davey Miller are the rural artists included in this anthology. Each one of these showcases a particular technique and sensitivity sourced from the earlier 19th century parlor guitar tradition. Several of these sides are reissued for their first time including Sylvester Weaver’s “Guitar Blues” which is the first solo finger picked guitar solo ever recorded. Stunningly remastered and annotated by Christopher King.

CHARLIE POOLE & THE HIGHLANDERS : THE COMPLETE PARAMOUNT & BRUNSWICK RECORDINGS, 1929
LP/CD/DL

From 1926 to 1930 one of the most popular rural string bands on record was Charlie Poole & The North Carolina Ramblers. Through their 78 RPM discs and their various performances, Charlie Poole was second only to Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers. Poole’s uniquely syncopated three finger banjo picking style coupled with his Piedmont vocal inflections eventually colored and defined much of what we consider “old-time” music. The classic configuration of banjo, fiddle and guitar with vocals was encouraged by the main label that promoted Poole but he also wanted to record instrumentals featuring twin-fiddle and piano. As renaming his group The Highlanders, Poole was able to actualize this musical vision. This collection contains all of the sides that Poole made with Roy Harvey, Lucy Terry, and twin-fiddlers Lonnie Austin & Odell Smith. Remastered in beautiful sound by Christopher King and with notes written by old-time musician and scholar Kinney Rorrer.

February 14th, 2013

Don Bikoff – Celestial Explosion – Feb 26 on CD/LP/DL

Don Bikoff released one lone, rare solo album, ‘Celestial Explosion’, on Keyboard Records in 1968, now reissued on LP/CD/DL by Tompkins Square. Watch the YouTube video of Bikoff playing on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour, taped May 12, 1968. You’ll see the sheepish, long-haired, mustachioed musician spinning gold in a style (still?) so foreign to the mainstream listener. The befuddled host concludes after Don’s performance, “That’s unusual to say the least.” A kid from Oyster Bay, LI, Bikoff got his start in Greenwich Village, annoying Dave Van Ronk and playing the folk/blues circuit where he met Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Jesse Fuller and Mississippi John Hurt. The comparisons to John Fahey’s and Robbie Basho’s work stated in the LP liner notes touched a nerve with Fahey himself at the time. Today, those comparisons are still inevitable, however they are for lazy ears. Bikoff has his own approach. Don is only 65 years old, and he’s still playing strong. Don will appear with labelmate Daniel Bachman at Union Pool, Brooklyn NY on April 30th.

1968 Video

Hear a track via THE FADER

January 3rd, 2013

Lena Hughes – Queen of the Flat Top Guitar

Liner notes by JOHN RENBOURN.
LP/CD/DL January 29th, 2013

A musical “amateur” that best exemplified true artistry, Lena Hughes was born in Grape Grove Township, Missouri, in 1904. Though she never recorded any 78s and only one LP, Hughes was most influential through her steady performances at various fiddler conventions and folk festivals throughout the Ozarks. She was an excellent fiddler, banjoist and guitar picker who retained the largely extinct repertoire of parlor pieces and the variety of specialized tunings that were necessary to play them. She lived most of her life in Ludlow, Missouri and passed away in 1998.

Lena Hughes’ repertoire can be divided roughly in half: finger-picked numbers adapted from fiddle tunes and recast parlor guitar pieces gleaned from popular sentimental songs, hymns, and 19th century airs. As a faithful attendee at folk festivals, Hughes was accompanied by her guitar-playing husband, Jake. Her most mesmerizing performances, such as Pearly Dew, Spanish Fandango, and Kentucky Moon Waltz, depend heavily upon the resonance of the open chord as it relates to the picking of the melodic line, primarily on one string. This tonal reliance is most similar to the “celestial octave” that Washington Phillips employs, with similar effect, on his Train Your Child. This ethereal harmonic technique, which seems so natural in Hughes’ playing, is the holy grail for most finger-picking guitarists. Her lack of pretense and her mastery of this repertoire is what defines her legendary status.

These recordings were made in the early 60’s in Arkansas and released in very limited fashion as a private press LP. Remastered by Chris King. Designed by Susan Archie.

BUY THE LP / CD

Hear “Pearly Dew”

NPR All Things Considered

December 7th, 2012

Tompkins Square Grammy News

He Is My Story : The Sanctified Soul of Arizona Dranes‘ has been nominated for a Grammy, Best Historical Album. It’s the 7th nom for producer Chris King, the 1st for engineer Bryan Hoffa, the 1st for Tompkins Square label founder Josh Rosenthal, and the 5th for the Tompkins Square label. Big ups to Susan Archie (design) and Michael Corcoran (notes).

October 17th, 2012

Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard : Hard Time, Good Time & End Time Music, 1923-1936

Available as a deluxe 3LP & 3CD Box Set. BUY HERE.

Work, play, pray – the lifecycle of the rural America that created our greatest generation of country music, 1923 to 1936. These volumes survey songs of labor and occupation, hardship and loss; dance tunes, comic numbers, and novelties that provided distraction and fun; and the hymns and sacred pieces that reached beyond the raw material of daily existence for something enduring. Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard features 19 previously un-reissued sides and is largely drawn from the collection of the late Don Wahle of Louisville, Kentucky. A hillbilly 78 collector for many years, his records were hours away from the dump when producer Nathan Salsburg recovered them. Compiled and annotated by Salsburg with accompanying essays by Sarah Bryan(editor of the Old Time Herald), Amanda Petrusich (New York Times; author of It Still Moves), and John Jeremiah Sullivan(Southern editor of the Paris Review; author of Blood Horses and the essay collection Pulphead).

October 1st, 2012

Daniel Bachman – Seven Pines – on CD/LP/DL

Daniel Bachman is a 22 year old musician born and raised in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He has been playing what he describes as “psychedelic appalachia” since he was a teenager, releasing small run editions of tapes, CDs and LPs for the past three years, with a sound that evolved from drones and banjos to a now guitar centered focus. Touring off and on since the age of 17, Bachman has managed to cover thorough ground across the US, sharing stages with like minded folk such as fellow Fredericksburg native Jack Rose, for whom he fashioned the artwork for the posthumous release of ‘Luck In The Valley’. His newest effort is the full length LP ‘Seven Pines’, sprung from a year living and working in the city of Philadelphia. The sound results in a combination of homesick worried blues and the ecstatic buzz of fresh experience and a new life in unknown territory. Familiar and known, but also seeking to access memories from lives past, dead and gone.

Video

September 17th, 2012

Bill Wilson – Ever Changing Minstrel

Indiana’s Bill Wilson drove to Nashville and knocked on producer Bob Johnston’s kitchen door in 1973. Johnston had recently produced albums by Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Bob let him in to play a few songs, liked it, and rounded up his crew that played on Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde”. They recorded ‘Ever Changing Minstrel’ that night, and it was released on Columbia Records in 1973. The album is now reissued with rare photographs, notes by reissue producer and Tompkins Square label owner Josh Rosenthal, and remastered from the original tapes.

September 9th, 2012

Six International Titles Now Available Digitally

Tompkins Square label is proud to release six albums compiled by musicologist Ian Nagoski for his Canary label. These titles have appeared as limited edition pressings, and are out of print. However, the albums can now be purchased around the world via the digital service of your choice; Spotify, Amazon, iTunes, Boomkat, Other Music and many others.

v/a – Brass Pins & Pearls: International 78s
A collection of radiant music from around the world compiled from 78rpm discs from the first half of the 20th century. Originally released at two LPs (A String of Pearls in late 2009 and Brass Pins & Match Heads in early 2011), each LP reacted directly to the early deaths of musician-friends of compiler Ian Nagoski and asked, “What is the value of the life of one musician?” The complexly interwoven performances are visceral and lifelike outpourings of strong emotions and outrageous feats of virtuosity. Musicians, famous and unknown alike from staggeringly varied backgrounds, together give the impression of the goodness, wonder and mystery of music itself. These 25 tracks span nearly as many cultures and languages but flow seamlessly as one human voice.

Marika Papagika – The Further the Flame, the Worse it Burns Me: Greek Folk Music in New York City, 1919-28
The Greek singer Marika Papagika was one of the best-selling immigrant performers in the US of the 1920s. Her records were often deeply emotive, full of dignity and grace, ambition, heart-rending sorrow and resignation, and nostalgic patriotism for the world she left behind. This album of eleven songs (drawn from the 250 performances s he left behind from her career in America) from deep in 19th century Greek folklore and pan-Ottoman Eastern Mediterranean experience showcase her extraordinary voice, accompanied by some of the best musicians of the New York Greek scene.

Khansahib Ustad Abdul Karim Khan – 1934-1935
Even now, 75 years since his death in 1937, Abdul Karim Khan remains the most revered and admired Hindustani singer of the early 20th century. His influence and legacy continue to pervade Indian music. His voice, elastic, mercurial, and almost impossibly sweet, and his unique style, broadly nationalist the time of the rise of the Independence movement and popularly alluring while still expanding on the refinement and technique of the centuries-old court music from which he had come, was best-preserved at recording session in Bombay in the mid-30s, from which these ten exquisite performances were drawn.

v/a – What Remains of Eden: Anatolian & Levantine Musics, 1928-1952
Coincident with the birth of the modern Middle East in the 1920s-50s was a flurry of recording activity in Cairo, Istanbul, and among the diaspora of the Eastern Mediterranean in the United States. These 15 tracks originate from Istanbul through the heart of Anatolia to Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt, spanning the classical to the folk, from cafes to courts, from the joyous to the plaintive, and many distinct ethnicities (Arab, Armenian, Assyrian, Greek, Kurdish, Maronite, Roma, and Turkish), celebrities and unknowns alike, each with a unique, palpable focus and intensity, each with a powerful story to tell.

v/a – Bed of Pain: Rembetika 1931-1955
The deep, dark hybrid music born in the urban slums of Greece, rembetika is often referred to as “the Greek blues,” for its heroic, blunt truth-telling in the face of suffering. This collection of heavy songs from the style’s “golden era” in the years surrounding WWII includes many of the “heavy-hitters,” great and revered singers and composers, but also includes many obscure artists, including several from the influential American diaspora. For fans of the style, if offers brilliant lesser-known pieces and for the uninitiated, it cuts to the heart of rembetika’s no-bullshit swagger, grief, and fierce beauty.

v/a – To What Strange Place : The Music Of The Ottoman-American Diaspora, 1916-1929
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.