April 23rd, 2012

‘Oh Michael, Look What You’ve Done : Friends Play Michael Chapman’- Available May 29th

Michael Chapman began his career on the Cornish folk circuit in 1967. Signed to the Harvest label, home to Pink Floyd and Deep Purple, he recorded four quasi-legendary albums. The influential ‘Fully Qualified Survivor’ was John Peel’s favorite record of 1970, and featured future Bowie collaborator Mick Ronson. After decades of recording and touring, Chapman remained an obscure figure in the States until his profile was raised by a lengthy 2009 interview with big fan Thurston Moore in Fretboard Journal. He toured extensively with the late guitarist Jack Rose, and more recently, with Bill Callahan. Seattle-based indie label Light in the Attic began a reissue campaign of his Harvest work, and Tompkins Square released the internationally acclaimed double disc, ‘Trainsong : Guitar Compositions, 1967-2010‘.

All this has brought newfound attention to a singular guitarist and songwriter.

‘Oh Michael, Look What You’ve Done : Friends Play Michael Chapman’, compiled by Michael’s wife Andru and Tompkins Square’s Josh Rosenthal, features artists who have shared a stage with Michael, or share a personal connection. These include some of his contemporaries like Bridget St. John, Maddy Prior, and longtime cohort Rick Kemp (Steeleye Span), as well as young guns inspired by Michael’s legacy.

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Track listing :

1. Black Twig Pickers – Life on the Ceiling
2. D. Charles Speer – Expressway in the Rain
3. Lucinda Williams – That Time of Night (LISTEN)
4. Thurston Moore – It Didn’t Work Out
5. Meg Baird – No Song To Sing (LISTEN)
6. Maddy Prior – The Prospector
7. Hiss Golden Messenger – Fennario
8. Rick Kemp – Vanity and Pride
9. Two Wings – You Say
10. Nick Jonah Davis – Little Molly’s Dream
11. Bridget St. John – Rabbit Hills
12. William Tyler – Naked Ladies and Electric Ragtime

March 23rd, 2012

Tompkins Square Rolls Out Line of 78RPM Records

San Francisco-based record label Tompkins Square announces the first in a series of releases in the 78 rpm 10″ vinyl format.

The first two will feature previously unreleased recordings from Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars), and Ralph Stanley. Both 78’s will be released as a limited edition of 500 copies on Record Store Day, April 21, 2012. Please note : These 78’s will not be sold on this site – they will only be available via independent record stores.

Luther Dickinson plays medleys of Southern melodies on his 78, including “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah/Beautiful Dreamer” on the A side and “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen/Peace in the Valley” on the B side. Ralph Stanley’s 78 features “Single Girl”, with “Little Birdie” on the B side.

Tompkins Square owner Josh Rosenthal comments, “A lot of new turntables play 78’s, and many 78 collectors listen to their records on modern equipment. Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe have all recently released 78’s. So I thought it would be fun to start a line of them.”

The label will also release a white label 45 of Hiss Golden Messenger’s “Jesus Shot Me in The Head” from the forthcoming album ‘Poor Moon’, b/w the unreleased “Jesus Dub,” on Record Store Day.

Hiss Golden Messenger’s album “Poor Moon” is set for release April 17th.

HEAR LUTHER DICKINSON’s 78RPM B Side

March 13th, 2012

Hiss Golden Messenger – out April 17th


“Mystical country, like an eerie yellowing photograph” – David Bowie

“A small but grand statement, recorded in a week, but achieving country-soul greatness”
- UNCUT * * * * stars

“MC Taylor writes folk music that is at once firmly steeped in tradition and immediately accessible.”
- NPR Music

“Fans of Will Oldham and Bill Callahan will find much to admire in the work of MC Taylor, a revivalist who also lectures in folklore.”
- Guardian UK

———————————————————-
Hiss Golden Messenger is Durham, North Carolina-based songwriter M.C. Taylor, in partnership with multi-instrumentalist and recordist Scott Hirsch, who lives in Brooklyn, New York. The pair have been playing music together for nearly two decades. Poor Moon is the fourth proper Hiss Golden Messenger release, and serves as the best summation thus far of Taylor’s lone journeys through the dark night of the soul. “God is good, and it’s understood,” he sings. “But he moves in mysterious ways.”

Taylor and Hirsch are clear that they draw inspiration from a variety of sources, including the blue-collar mysticism of Ronnie Lane and Richard & Linda Thompson; the high haunted atmospheres of John Martyn and Talk Talk; and American vernacular music writ large (from Archie Brownlee to the Staple Singers; Charlie Poole to Merle Haggard). Yet for all that, Poor Moon is a singular vision, one that only two companions could have made after twenty years of music-making, revelry, and repent.

Features members of Brightblack Morning Light, D. Charles Speer & The Helix and Black Twig Pickers

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January 23rd, 2012

Aimer et Perdre : To Love & To Lose Songs, 1917-1934

AVAILABLE NOW
Produced by Chris King (Charley Patton, Bristol Sessions, People Take Warning)
Original Artwork by Robert Crumb

This is one from the heart. The unique pre-war music of the Cajun bayous, the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine and Poland, and the American rural countryside has been collected to narrate the human odyssey of love gained and love lost. Early songs of unbridled anticipation and desperate longing color the canvas of love, courtship, dejection and marriage… a never-ending cycle. The accompanying 60-page booklet features many rare, previously unpublished images and comprehensive lyrical translation. Three original artworks by Robert Crumb provide a backdrop for these sublime songs of passion and despair. Respectfully crafted by Christopher King and Susan Archie for Tompkins Square. 36 Songs on 2CDs.

December 4th, 2011

Calvin Keys – “Shawn-Neeq” 180g vinyl reissue out January 10th !

Originally released on the influential label Black Jazz in 1971, guitarist Calvin Keys’ debut is a stone classic waiting to be re-discovered. The funky, deep grooves and Calvin’s singular guitar stylings, coupled with a heady collaborative feel that inhabits so many early ’70’s jazz recordings, are all on beautiful display. 40 years later, Tompkins Square proudly re-issues this LP on 180g vinyl just in time for Calvin’s 70th Birthday (February 6th, 2012). Calvin will play a special record release show at Yoshi’s in San Francisco on January 9th.

Calvin’s musical roots originate in his hometown of Omaha, NE, playing with legends like Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson. Shortly after the release of his debut LP ‘Shawn-Neeq’, Calvin was hired to tour and record with Ray Charles. By the mid-70’s, Calvin was working steadily with pianist Ahmad Jamal on the road and in the studio. Since settling in the Bay Area in the mid-70’s, Calvin has recorded numerous solo albums and played with many greats, including Taj Mahal, Bobby Hutcherson, Big John Patton and Dr. Lonnie Smith. In 2007, fellow Midwesterner and big fan Pat Metheny included the song “Calvin’s Keys” on his album, ‘Day Trip’.

September 8th, 2011

This May Be My Last Time Singing : Raw African-American Gospel on 45RPM 1957-1982


Get ready for fiery sanctified soul, heavy Pentecostal jams, drum machine gospel, slow-burning moaners, glorified guitar sermons and righteously ragged a cappela hymns! The music on this compilation was originally released on small label 45s, mostly in the 1960s and ’70s. At least one-third of the records were self-released, paid for by a church congregation or the artists themselves. Others were on regional labels (typically run by one single producer) little known today outside of a small circle of collectors. This vibrant music is incredibly honest and almost criminally unknown.

All tracks were sourced from 45s collected over the last decade by compiler Mike McGonigal, who also produced 2009’s three disc set Fire in My Bones: Raw + Rare + Otherworldly African-American Gospel (1944-2007) for Tompkins Square. McGonigal, who has compiled records for Mississippi Records and his own Social Music label, lives in Portland, OR where he is the editorial director for Yeti Publications. He writes in the liner notes that he “chose to source this compilation entirely from 45s because of their democratic/DIY nature; almost anyone could raise enough money to release a seven-inch single.”

“Maybe you’ll feel like I did on first hearing these tracks, that you’ve stumbled in on someone else’s tenderly private moment. Or that you’ve been swept up in a collective delirium. You’ll hear deep soulfulness here, with heavy admixtures of rhythm and blues and rock’n'roll. There are echoes of ’60s and ’70s pop too. You’ll also catch bits of country and western, and something like surf guitar. In another way, much here uncannily resembles the unruly sound and spirit of 1960s garage. Give yourself over to this compilation: there’s delight and surprise in every track.”

-PETER DOYLE, author of Echo and Reverb: Fabricating Space in Popular Music Recording, 1900-1960; The Devil’s Jump and Crooks Like Us

June 10th, 2011

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

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

REVIEWS OF TO WHAT STRANGE PLACE:

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
soul.”
- 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.”
-RedLick

“*****”
-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

ARTICLES ON TO WHAT STRANGE PLACE:
Baltimore City Paper
The National, Dubai, UAE

SOUNDS OF TO WHAT STRANGE PLACE:
The Wire
RCRDLBL

June 8th, 2011

Spencer Moore, 1919-2011


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.

May 5th, 2011

Frank Fairfield – ‘Out On The Open West’

“A young Californian who sings and plays as someone who’s crawled out of the Virginia mountains carrying familiar songs that in his hands sound forgotten: broken lines, a dissonant drone, the fiddle or the banjo all percussion, every rising moment louder than the one before it.”
—Greil Marcus

‘Out on the Open West’ is Frank Fairfield’s new album. It was produced by Michael Kieffer (Origin Jazz Library) and features guest accompaniment by Willie Watson (Old Crow Medicine Show), Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton, Tom Marion, Justin and Josh Petrojvic and Brandon Armstrong. The album is a departure for Frank, having written most of the tunes himself, and bringing in the other players to round out his songs.

Handpicked by Fleet Foxes to open their U.S. tour in 2009, Frank released a 7” and his acclaimed debut LP on Tompkins Square. Since then, Frank has played many festivals in the U.S. and Europe, appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition, released a compilation of 78 rpm recordings on Tompkins Square, was extensively interviewed by Pitchfork, and even had a film made about him (produced by KEXP’s Greg Vandy). His music has made fans of people like Ry Cooder, Grammy-winning producer Chris King (Charley Patton, People Take Warning box sets) and Greil Marcus, to name a few.

Available on LP, CD and DL May 31, 2011

Movie trailer

Video for “Poor Old Lance”

April 23rd, 2011

Amede Ardoin – The Father of Cajun & Zydeco

The father of Cajun and Zydeco is celebrated for the first time with his complete 34 recordings, all in one deluxe 2CD package.  Rare Afro-Creole rhythms are heard alongside blues and breakdowns in this exquisitely remastered and produced volume, the first in the series of Long Gone Sounds for Tompkins Square.  The Series will be dedicated to under-anthologized yet highly influential artists. Produced by Christopher King (People Take Warning, Charley Patton) and designed by Susan Archie.

Watch a PBS piece on Amede Ardoin

Washington Post review

NPR – All Things Considered

Buy it on Amazon.com

Buy it at tompkinssquare.com