Tuesday, December 06, 2005

78 and still going

You know that saying wild hair? I always imagine a whole patch of 'em sprouting outta Joe Bussard's blood pumper. Half-heart-half-wild-hair drives him. He is The Record Collector of which all others are measured up to. With over 25,000 old-time records and nearly all of them are tagged with hunting stories and arcana. Check out this great article on Joe from the Washington Free Weekly (2/12/98) that details a buncha exploits and his discovery of that Black Patti. So last year Old Hat issued the double disk Down in the Basement Joe Bussard's Treasure Trove of Vintage 78s 1926-1937 and now Dust to Digital is bringing out a dusty monster that is the 5CD Fonotone boxset.

After spending his early years soaking up the sound of thousands of 78 rpm discs, record collector Joe Bussard decided in 1956 to make some recordings of a few guitar-picking pals in his local National Guard unit. Little did Bussard know that his hobby would turn into a 14 year odyssey which would result in hundreds of custom made 78 rpm records to be issued on his own Fonotone label out of his parents' basement in Frederick, Maryland.

Fonotone issued the first sides by John Fahey (as Blind Thomas) and as well as slabs from the likes of Mike Stewart (as B. Sam Firk), Mike Seeger (as Birmingham Bill) and dozens of others you and I have never heard of. Stewart and Fahey even got together as Mississippi Swampers for a session. All in all, this is quite a FonoDiscography at 131 tracks, all mastered from the original tapes.

Joe Bussard & Oscar Myers - Chinese Breakdown
Mississippi Swampers - Some Summer Day No. 2
Jolly Joe's Jug Band - Tear It Down
Birmingham Bill - Cumberland Gap


At 11:59 AM, Blogger 11V said...

I was lucky enough to be sent a review copy of this fine set. I've managed to listen to the first two discs four times so far - it's a simultaneously highly enjoyable and pretty exhausting experience. Fascinating stuff and great to hear John Fahey's early cuts. Caused me to dig out his later Womblife which I hadn't heard in much too long a while.


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