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The CHIRP Blog

CHIRP DJ writesRecord Collecting Fever: Desperate Man Blues

It’s a chilly February afternoon, and I’m feeling a bit feverish, but this a different sort of fever than the nasty flu bug that’s been going around (ok, i’ve actually got that too). I just got word from our record fair director that we’ve secured a new venue for the 2009 CHIRP Record Fair and Other Delights. For a vinyl junkie like myself, this is like hearing a shipment of primo narcotics just rolled into town. I’m unbelievably pscyhed!

Mark your calendars folks; April 18th and 19th the 2009 edition of our yearly record fair will be taking place at a NEW LOCATION: Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union, LOCAL 130 UA (1340 West Washington Boulevard, Chicago, IL‎).

And somehow, the internet gods must have heard about this exquisite news, because for one week only, starting February 2nd, Pitchfork.tv will be showing Desperate Man Blues, a documentary about Joe Bussard, the king of all record collectors.

Bussard’s stories are the stuff of record collector legend….in a lengthy article in the Washington City Paper, author Eddie Dean captures the tale of one of Bussard’s most infamous finds, a one of a kind Black Patti, “Original Stack O’ Lee Blues” by the Down Home Boys, Long Cleve Reed and Little Harvey Hull.

What makes Bussard such an undeniable force in old-time music circles isn’t simply his collection but what he has done with it over the years. It is a bizarre fusion of obsessive, almost pathological hoarding and an equally strong impulse for rampant dissemination. He’s got to have this stuff, yes, but he wants the whole world to hear it, too. In 2003, Old Hat Records released Down In The Basement: Joe Bussard’s Treasure Trove of Vintage 78s 1926-1937, a fantastic collection of choice gems from Bussard’s 25,000 plus 78rpm records. The collector’s edition 2-disc digi-pack is out of print, but you can still snag the single disc version. Many of his records have popped up on collections put out by the Yazoo label, and for those ultra curious folks, you can hear “Original Stack O’ Lee Blues” on the Yazoo comp THE STUFF THAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF: Super Rarities & Unissued Gems of the 1920s & 30s

In addition to acquiring 78s, Bussard founded the Fonotone label and his copies of records have been lent to brilliant compilations from Dust-to-Digital and others (he also issued records by fellow collector John Fahey). Director Edward Gillan’s 2003 film tells the story of Bussard’s obsession and, by extension, the story of the early recording industry and the music that would become a cornerstone of American culture.

If you miss out on catching the documentary, don’t fret; you can also get it on DVD from the fine folks at Dust to Digital.

I’ll be seeing you at the record fair!

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Categorized: Post Mix

Topics: record fair

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