November 11th, 2013

Ryley Walker 12″, Michael Hurley 78rpm out Nov 29th

Ryley Walker’s debut 12″ EP featuring three songs : “The West Wind” from his forthcoming album, due in April; “A Home For Me”; and “Sweet Little Betsy”, an instrumental guitar duet with Daniel Bachman. (The latter two songs are exclusive to this EP and will not appear on the album, or anywhere else, online or otherwise). The EP is audiophile quality 180g vinyl at 45rpm.

Listen to “The West Wind”

Buy the single on iTunes

“Watertrain/Black & Yellow Bee” is a 78 rpm 10″ with two newly recorded, previously unreleased songs by folk legend Michael Hurley. Tompkins Square has released 78rpm records by Tyler Ramsey (Band of Horses), Ralph Stanley, Joe Bussard, Luther Dickinson, and a split 78 with Lucinda Williams & Michael Chapman.

July 24th, 2013

Live At Caffe Lena : Music From America’s Legendary Coffeehouse, 1967-2013

HEAR 4 SONGS FROM THE BOX SET

3-CD Box Set Available Now

New York Times Feature on Caffe Lena

iTunes

Amazon

BUY IT FROM TOMPKINS SQUARE

Unreleased performances by Dave Van Ronk, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Kate McGarrigle, Rick Danko, Anais Mitchell, Sleepy John Estes, Arlo Guthrie, Sarah Lee Guthrie, and more.

Nestled in the quaint upstate town of Saratoga Springs, New York is Caffè Lena, the oldest continuously operating folk music coffeehouse in the US. Opened by Lena Spencer in 1960, this tiny room has played host to influential artists across diverse genres of music; traditional folk, blues, singer-songwriters, jazz and bluegrass. Luckily, many performances were caught on tape through the years, offering the listener a thrilling seat inside this hallowed venue. ‘Live At Caffè Lena’, a 3-CD box set, the result of years of investigative research, contains 47 tracks, all released for the very first time, alongside previously unpublished photographs. Images include selections from the archive of esteemed photographer Joe Alper, who captured many iconic, intimate portraits from the folk era of the 1960s.

‘Live At Caffè Lena’ documents an important folk universe that was and is still happening in upstate New York, a story heretofore largely untold. The release of this collection comes at an auspicious time in light of renewed interest in the New York folk scene of the 60s as depicted in the forthcoming Coen Brothers film, ‘Inside Llewyn Davis.’ The film is loosely based on Dave Van Ronk’s 2005 memoir ‘The Mayor of Macdougal Street.’ Van Ronk, a Caffè Lena regular, served as a mentor to many artists, some who would go on to eclipse his fame. His 1974 recording of “Gaslight Rag”featured on the box set references the Gaslight Café, a famed Greenwich Village venue that along with Caffè Lena was a catalyst for the folk music revival.

Caffè Lena embodied the spirit of the folk boom, the era and its artistry, building a reputation as a hotbed of creativity and connection. It was also a safe haven and nurturing space for artists, its atmosphere cultivated personally by Lena Spencer herself. She would graciously house wayward artists, sometimes for months at a time. But she was not merely a host. She championed artists, from Bob Dylan as early as 1961 all the way through the 80s until her passing. Her passion for identifying and promoting talent is evident throughout this 3-CD set. That Caffè Lena is still open for business tonight is a testament to her legacy.

‘Live At Caffè Lena’ is an important visual and audio document – 40+ years of our collective music history unearthed from dozens of “lost” tapes – night after night, show after show, through the decades – captured on tape in a tiny room in Saratoga Springs, New York.

‘Live At Caffè Lena: Music From America’s Legendary Coffeehouse, 1967-2013′
TSQ 2967 Distributed by INgrooves in North America, Cargo UK for Europe, FUSE for Australia

Producers: Steve Rosenthal (Three-time GRAMMY Award-winner, owner of The Magic Shop and The Living Room Music Club in NYC), Jocelyn Arem (Director of the Caffè Lena History Project)

Liner notes: Holly George-Warren & Robert Burke Warren, Scott Goldman, Michael Eck

Also Coming in October 2013:

Caffè Lena: Inside America’s Legendary Folk Music Coffeehouse (powerHouse Books) brings more than 200 never before seen, evocative images and stories to the public. Early 1960s photographs of Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger and modern-day images of Rufus Wainwright and Patty Larkin blend with rare memorabilia and an oral history derived from more than 100 original interviews of artists who have graced Caffè Lena’s stage over the decades, including Ani DiFranco, Utah Phillips, Dave Van Ronk, Spalding Gray, and other luminaries of the folk, blues, jazz, and theater worlds.

Track list for ‘Live At Caffè Lena: Music From America’s Legendary Coffeehouse, 1967-2013′

DISC ONE
01 Intro by Lena Spencer / Guy Carawan Cripple Creek 1970
02 Hedy West Shady Grove 1968
03 Intro by Lena Spencer / Sleepy John Estes Holy Spirit 1974
04 Frank Wakefield and Friends Will The Circle Be Unbroken 1971
05 Jean Ritchie West Virginia Mine Disaster 1969
06 Billy Faier Hunt The Wren 1967
07 Greenbriar Boys Hit Parade of Love 1968
08 Mike Seeger O Death 1971
09 Jacqui and Bridie Hello Friend 1974
10 Tom Paxton Morning Again 1968
11 David Amram Little Mama 1974
12 Patrick Sky Reality Is Bad Enough 1971
13 Rosalie Sorrels Travelin’ Lady 1974
14 Smoke Dawson Devil’s Dream 1968
15 Utah Phillips The Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia 1974
16 Michael Cooney Thyme It Is A Precious Thing 1974
17 Kate McGarrigle and Roma Baran Caffè Lena 1972

DISC TWO
01 Intro by Lena Spencer / Dave Van Ronk Gaslight Rag 1974
02 Jerry Jeff Walker Mr. Bojangles 1968
03 Barbara Dane Mama Yancey’s Advice / Love With a Feeling 1968
04 Roy Book Binder Ain’t Nobody Home But Me 1974
05 Intro by Lena Spencer / David Bromberg The Holdup 1972
06 Ramblin’ Jack Elliott Pretty Boy Floyd 1992
07 Arlo Guthrie City of New Orleans 2010
08 Aztec Two Step The Persecution and Restoration of Dean Moriarty 1989
09 Happy And Artie Traum Trials Of Jonathan 1974
10 Rick Danko It Makes No Difference 1988
11 Paul Geremia Something’s Gotta Be Arranged 1989
12 Robin and Linda Williams S-A-V-E-D 1987
13 John Herald Ramblin’ Jack Elliott 1991
14 Pete Seeger Somos El Barco (We Are the Boat) 1985

DISC THREE
01 Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion Folksong 2013
02 Anais Mitchell Wedding Song 2013
03 Bill Morrissey The Last Day Of The Furlough 1990
04 Patty Larkin Island Of Time 1992
05 Greg Brown Flat Stuff 1989
06 Mary Gauthier I Drink 2013
07 Sean Rowe Old Black Dodge 2013
08 Tom Chapin Cats In The Cradle 1987
09 Intro by Lena Spencer / Christine Lavin It’s A Good Thing He Can’t Read My Mind 1987
10 Bill Staines Sweet Wyoming Home 1990
11 Bucky and John Pizzarelli I Like Jersey Best 1989
12 Rory Block That’s No Way To Get Along 1989
13 Chris Smither Killing The Blues 1989
14 Tift Merritt Traveling Alone 2013
15 John Gorka Down In The Milltown 1990
16 Lena Spencer Dear Little Cafe 1972

July 24th, 2013

DINO VALENTE – LP Reissue August 13, 2013

First-ever vinyl re-issue of the 1968 psych classic by Dino Valente (Quicksilver Messenger Service)

First time commercially available in glorious MONO

Recorded under the supervision of Bob Johnston (Dylan, Cohen, Cash)

Remastered from the original tapes by Grammy-winning engineer Warren Russell-Smith

Original liner notes by Ralph Gleason

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).