But You Need An Electron Microscope…

17 08 2010

There are some great things to see in Ohio.

Having eschewed a junket to see Cleveland’s Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame when it first opened (knee-jerk reaction when I heard that they used funds from the Ohio school system.  Nice summary here ) I finally took the plunge.  It’s only an hour from the ancestral homestead (Poland, the first city of the Western Reserve), so why not?  Best thing was in the Springsteen exhibit, seeing all the handbill and fliers and promo activities it took to get his early band, The Castiles, off the ground.

The main reason for my CLE visit was to see the new Rock Hall Archive being set up by Andy Leach, the Director of Library and Archives. The new 22,500-square-foot facility is housed at Cuyahoga Community College, set to open in May 2011.   Andy had visited ARC last fall, so it was my turn.  I wasn’t the only one anxious to get in, as recently a passerby fired a few bullets into the glass façade.  Have a look at this swell building Columbia University – see what a Community College can do!  Inspired?

The Music Library and Sound Recordings Archives at Bowling Green State University occupies a Soviet era building on a bleak campus, across from a new arts building, with hopes of some architectural largess coming their way soon.  The man in charge since the late 60s is Bill Schurk, a good soul.  He’s still enthusiastic, curious, engaged.  Amid the manageable piles are trash and treasures, souvenirs and curiosities, in one of America’s great popular music collections.  The hall-walls are lined with paper ephemera and the main room a constellation of 45s dangling from the ceiling. They’ve managed to make an institutional space fun, while remaining on good terms with the fire marshal.  I got a tour and ARC donated a book we knew they didn’t have, about channeling wisdom from Gerry Garcia.

Other hotspots on my summer tour included Youngstown, OH and Ann Arbor, MI.

I attended Michigan (12 credits short – still waiting for the honorary degree) and had not been back for more than 20 years.  We visited friends and had wonderful food @ The Earl Restaurant. When last in AA the Earl was just starting up, Dominoes Pizza and Borders Books were small local businesses and the football stadium held a mere 100,000.  Lets just say it’s more of a party school these days, but it’s no longer the Rainbow People’s Party.  Pre-Earl party dining meant a visit to the Jolly Pumpkin Brewery for a heralded Belgian style ale, which they were out of.  Drove 500 miles and told to try the local supermarket – nice marketing savvy!  Always in stock is the annual bumper crop of helpful interns from the University of Michigan School of Information. For the past few years these students have come to the ARC in NYC as part of their alternative Spring Break Program.

As a student my breaks were rarely alternative, and one job I had in AA was setting up chairs at Canterbury House, a way to hear music for free.  Canterbury House was/is run by the Episcopal Church, and beyond its value as an important venue for more than 50 years, they also co-sponsored the very first Ann Arbor Blues Festival.  Big on Canadians (work cheap? Nearby? Great artists?) meant that I was lucky enough to see early gigs by Neil Young (Sugar Mountain set) and Joni Mitchell.

My tenuous Youngstown (Poland is a suburb) music connections were explored in an earlier blog, so lets just mention Charlie Staples Bar-B-Q.   Ribs here are as good as anyplace out East, and many down South. I stock up on their unmarked, quart size, Ball-jarred hot sauce.  But it means going to downtown Y-Town, a region few from my burb have ever visited.  This is the lone speaker in the beautiful formica-ed back room they will never see…

But YOU can see the room, and sample the Q, when you visit Y-Town next September for the opening of “Ronnie Wood: Paintings, Drawings and Prints.” at the Butler Institute of American Art. Mrs. Butler once lived in Poland and taught me to draw.





What Happened in 2009?

9 02 2010

As we send out deeds of gifts (if you sent materials), thank you’s (for services or monetary donations), and plan, as best we can, for what we should be doing in 2010, we have POSTED our “2009 Year End Roundup” on the website.

In a nutshell, we have begun our partnership with Columbia University with some very nice projects and events, AND, the ARC grew by approx. 44,000 CDs, 30,000 LPs, 9,000 twelve-inch singles and assorted tens of thousands of music related videos, magazines, 78s, cassettes, singles, press kits and books.  The devil is in the details, so we list the angels who made it all happen.

The whole story is also below…

ARC 2009 Year-end Roundup!

Well finally, the second worse year of a pretty bad decade, ends. Small change, some hope. We hope all of you, who have been so generous in helping us preserve popular music over the past 2.5 decades now, will keep in touch. Thanks for everything. Heard a new term on the radio, and maybe you too are suffering from dreaded ‘frugal fatigue.’ Hope so. With your help, and luck, we’ll celebrate our 25 Anniversary next fall with our first big party in many years.Here’s our overview of 2009 – what we’ve done, who helped and some news on future projects…

We’ve just wound down our Holiday Record + CD sale. Once again vinyl is king, crowning our best winter sale since we moved to White Street. There were fewer CDs for sale this year, because there are fewer CDs, period. When we did get large batches, they were usually multiples of the same disc, as companies relocated, scaled down or closed. Many of our donations come from music critics, or off the promo shelves of the record companies here in the city, and, well, the cupboards are bare as more and more downloads have replaced sending out physical product.

Speaking of what was not sent out, this year we passed on the postcard to advertise the sale. I missed the graphics, and perhaps we missed reaching some people, but it saved $4,000. We did not miss dealing with the postoffice. Since we did better than ever, and crowdsize was the same or better, lets say it was an OK decision. Thanks to all who attended the party and the sale. As always, bravo to labels large and small for donating materials for the sale, and well, just surviving.

Need I remind everyone, attending our sale party is just one of the perks of becoming an ARC member. Not only do you meet tons of nice folks, get food and drinks, but you get first dibs on all the best recordings. The next sale is June 12. Make sure we have your e-mail address so you get the virtual invite.

BMI, the rights organization, sponsored the Holiday Sale this year. Thanks to VP Robbin Ahrold, a long time supporter of ARC, who made it all happen. It’s not an exaggeration to say we could not have done it without him. Downtown Express was an advertising partner, providing a nice display ad and write-up in their papers. Thanks to go-getter, Dani Zupanovich. Other friends of long standing, Mike Nabors of Bonnie’s Grill in Brooklyn supplied the beer and hot wings, while Emanuelle, of the Bubble Lounge, provided the bubbly. Volunteers working the sale included Tim Bourn, Henry Beer, Patrice George and Jessica Thompson. The clean-out crew – the great folks who buy everything that’s left after the sale – included vendors Gene Gritzen, Fred Shapiro and Jamal from Village Music World.

THE BIG NEWS
The big news of 2009 is our partnership with Columbia University. that began in late February. We are still feeling our way around the many departments, divisions and diversions that make up a great university, but are starting to get a few things accomplished. ARC’s approach is to bring musical ideas and projects to the university to work across a variety of disciplines, to enrich and enhance course study. Our closest allies in all of this are Jim Neal, Head of Libraries and Greg Mosher, Director of the Arts Initiative. With luck, with patronage, with vision we hope to move towards the establishment of a full-fledged Center for Popular Music that we all envision.

On November 19 we joined with the Columbia University Libraries and the Arts Initiative to present a Lecture As Performance by author and historian Greil Marcus celebrating the 20th anniversary release of his book, Lipstick Traces. This was a rollicking evening of an influential text made audible. The lecture was accompanied by a showcase display of Greils books and recordings and books by ARC’s director, B. George, at the Wiener Music & Arts Library. Thanks goes to Greil, Michael Ryan in rare books, Elizabeth Davies and Nick Patterson at the Music Library, Matt Hampel in Special Events, Damon Jaggars the Associate University Librarian for Collections & Services and all the folks at Harvard University press, esp., Andrew Battle. We are now planning our next lecture, an evening with Leiber and Stoller, in the works for next fall.

In September we laid the foundation for our first major project with Columbia, Muslim World Music Day (MWMD) – a worldwide, one-day, two-part event. The first is a live online attempt to identify and catalog all of the recordings of Muslim music in the world in one day. The second part is a series of live concerts from a variety of venues to celebrate the diversity, beauty and cultural importance of Muslim music. Our target date is April 12, 2011, and we set the project in motion when B. visited the Columbia University Middle Eastern Research Center (CUMERC) in Amman Jordan. You can read a bit about it on the blog here.

Here we set up a small office, visited government and NGO cultural organizations, talked to media leaders and enlisted support from universities and scholars. To our great delight we discovered unknown caches of wonderful music at the state radio station and at Jordan University. It is hoped that CUMERC and Jordan will house a permanent collection of music from the region when the project is completed and continue to maintain the database. Thanks to Kareem Talhouni, Nisreen Haj Ahmad, Dr. Safwan Masri and all the very kind folks at CUMERC who made the visit so enjoyable and productive.

The key element of the website for the MWMD, the database housing the information on the recordings, is being built and donated by Gracenote – the folks that provide the metadata for i-Tunes. ARC has been working closely with this important American media company to create the core database and make sure it suits our needs and is robust. The Internet Archive, the only company in the world dedicated to saving the entire Internet, is donating the bandwidth, to insure that there will be no crashes on the day of the event. Thanks to all the folks at Gracenote – Craig Palmer, Scott San Filippo, Ross Blanchard, Stephen White, Mike Gubman and Stephen Braitman. Over at the Internet Archive, “Hi!” and thanks to Brewster Kahle.

A blog, acting as a defacto website, has been created and the latest information on the project is posted there until the official website is ready to launch. To learn all about Muslim World Music Day visit us here.

TRIPPIN’
On the way to the Middle East B. gave a talk at the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) in Athens, Greece. This was a successful first step in gaining support from a variety of institutions willing to contribute data and essays to the MWMD. Thanks to Dimitra N. Kitsiou at the Hellenic National Audiovisual Archive for her invaluable help and graciousness.

We also gave a presentation on our proposed International Discography (iD), “One Click Hit! The International Discography” at the 43 annual Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) Conference in Washington DC in May. The goal, with Gracenote’s help, is to get the iD up and running by March of 2010.

ARSC has become quite chummy lately, with ARC hosted two meetings for them this year at our White Street address. This was fun and we were surprised to learn that we owned and filled 60 chairs. In February we gave a short tour of ARC and heard a presentation by Tim Hawkins on the Naropa Institute Sound Archive on the work of Alan Ginsberg and Anne Waldman. In April archivists Hillel Arnold and Tiffany Loiselle talked about audio treasures in the Woody Guthrie Archives including wire recordings made in 1949. Mastering and restoration engineer Steve Rosenthal of the The Magic Shop explained his role in the restoration and other projects, like remastering all of the Rolling Stone’s catalog. By the way, the NYC Spelmanslag a Scandinavian dance ensemble, also used ARC space to do a few practices this year.

In December B. spoke at The Colloquium on Resources at Columbia University’s Music Department, providing a short overview of the ARC’s history and collection, and outlining some of the completed and upcoming projects that we are doing with the University. Again thanks to Elizabeth Davis who organized and co-presented at this event, and moderator David Gutkin.

NEW PROJECT
ARC is involved in helping to launch the Music With Subtitles / World Music Lyric Translation Project, the brainchild of ARCpal Robert Singerman. This exciting new project will allow professionals and online users to view and translate the lyrics from any song, in any language, with the music, in the first such authorized and fully legal, website.

Robert is also helping us in our search for a site in Europe to house second copies of recording at ARC. He favors Paris, and we agree. Our point man in the City of Lights is music luminary Jean Claude Ast. More news later this year after we visit with the Minister of Culture in Paris. Ideally I want to be on the Rue des Archives! Why not? Over the years second sites have held lots of promise, but scant results. But hope springs eternal, and I’ll be in Paris in the Spring.

ONGOING
In May we officially finished up primary entry work on The New York Musicians Index and ARChive (NYMIA) and said goodbye to project director Dr. Daniel Neely, and researchers Bryan Koniarz and Jon Hammer. The NYMIA is up and running – an online listing of all working musicians and music related businesses in New York State. This project was funded by ARC, Columbia University and a grant from the New York State Music Fund, administered by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. We urge all musicians, or those working in a music related field in New York State, to go online and make sure you’re listed.

NEW COLLECTIONS
This year we began a focus on a few forms of music not well represented in American collections, Colombian and Brazilian music. So far the Brazilian collection has blossomed through the help of Beco Dranoff. Beco is the director of the new and spectacular documentary on Brazilian music, Beyond Ipanema. He has helped us secure the help of the Brazilian Consulate and we are searching for a partner in Brazil. To date our Brazilian holdings number over 3,000 recordings and growing. Another contributor is Joel Olveira who runs the Brazilian record outlet, Tropicallia in Furs. Joel has been trading rare Brazilian releases for some of our third copies of pop here at the ARC. Of great value is David Byrne’s offer to donate his collection of Brazilian recordings to the collection. Another essential add are the 400 Brazilian recordings courtesy of an incredible donation by Jerry Rappaport – more about that in the donations list below. As to the Colombian collection – Shakira, give us a call?

With that other Columbia, with the help of Elizabeth Davis, head of the Wiener Music & Arts Library, we set in motion the purchase of a ton of Cuban recordings. We are dealing directly with Cuba in order to get them the most bucks for the bang. Our main contact is Alberto Salazar Rodriguez, Sales Director at Egrem Records in Havana.

ON THE AIR
ARC was featured on a BBC Radio 4 show – Beat Mining With The Vinyl Hoover, broadcast primetime in the UK in March. Basically the show explored how record collectors changed the way we listen to and make music. In the promo, host Toby Amies says he, “soon realises he is collecting record collectors, getting dusty fingered as he digs out the world’s most committed vinyl maniacs with contributions from: DJ Mr Scruff; 45 King; Bob Stanley; Steve Stein (aka Steinski); Aaron Fuchs (Tuff City Records); Coldcut; Pete Waterman; DJ and compilation compiler Keb Darge; funky drummer Idris Muhammad; and B George, the director of the ARChive of Contemporary Music.”

The beeb also used the ARC as backdrop in November for a documentary on Chris Hughes, one of the co-founders of Facebook and a consultant who help Obama win the Whitehouse. He faced the interviewers in front of rows and rows of ARC LPs.

Other media news is that B. has done two segments for National Public radio (NPR) this year, both on Sunday Morning Weekend Edition. . In August David Greene did an interview – a quick tour and he played a few choice cuts from the ARC’s collection. They asked ARC back in September and we spoke with host Lynn Neary in a segment titled, “Forgotten Music, Found In The Archives.” This time we got a chance to play slightly longer cuts including, “In the Land of My Dreams” by Anna Domino, “Did You Ever Hear the Blues” by Big Miller and a Colombian Terapia snippet. Thanks to producers Thomas Pierce for initiating it all. We hope to do more, and maybe one day play an entire song on NPR!

PEOPLE
Fred Patterson continues to minister to the ARChive’s collection, making sure that every new recording that enters the ARC is catalogued properly and compared to the existing collection for variations. It’s a nightmare of work that few other libraries bother with. Our goal is to keep two copies of every version of every recording issued–covers, labels, catalog numbers, etc. are all considered. In this way, a label history is chronicled as the recordings are preserved. You can catch Fred on the action side of the music at The Wang Dang Doodle, his groovy record hop, currently held on the fifth Friday of the month (when there is one) at the Trophy Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Fred is also a regular DJ at the monthly Subway Soul Club events held on the third Friday of the month at the LOFT, also in Williamsburg. More details of his extra-ARChivial activities can be found here.

Part-timers staff in 2009 were Juan Amaya and Karim Vickery. Juan will continue and you can find Kareem at Halcyon record store in Dumbo. Volunteers this year included, Joe Flynn, Marcos Sueiro Bal, Andy Schwartz, Melwita (Wita) Mahadi (now in Indonesia), Damien McCaffery (now in Scotland), Mark Pajerski, Jillian Flexner and the indispensable Tim Broun. Collection pick-ups are by the ever-reliable Fleshtone-playing, sometimes truck-drivin,’ Alpine skiing, Keith Streng.

Once again the wonderfully helpful University of Michigan School of Information organized two interns over Spring break. When I went to Michigan, Spring Break wasn’t even invented yet! Noah Liebman helped create a new db for us, while David Jackson spent the week cataloging ‘classic rock’ LPs. Thanks to Kelly Kowatch for organizing it all. This April another former Michigander, John Schott, Chair of Cinema and Media Studies at Carleton College, brought a gaggle of media students to tour ARC, with a few students volunteering for a few days.

REMEMBERED
We lost another Board Members this year, Ellie Greenwich (October 23, 1940 – August 26, 2009), and in October were able to honor Jerry Wexler (January 10, 1917 – August 15, 2008) at a memorial held by his family. You can read a nice overview of the service and remembrance on Andy Schwartz’s New York Rocker website.

Ellie had been pretty much a recluse for many years now, and we rarely saw her. Happily her great music lives on through classic songs like “And Then He Kissed Me,” “Da Doo Ron Ron,” “Chapel of Love,” “River Deep, Mountain High” and “Be My Baby.” She also sang some perfectly silly ones like “Niki Hoeky.” She will be missed.

The above LP is from the ARC’s collection : Ellie Greenwich Composes Produces and Sings. (United Artists, USA, UAS 6648, LP, 1968).

Joining our Board of Advisor next year is Michael Feinstein – more about that in the blog this Feb. Very exciting for us.

We are also looking for new people to join our working Board of Trustees. If anyone is interested – helping to shape our projects and purpose – please give us a ring.

ENTERTAINMENT is US
A lot of industry projects this year, most notable is working with the newly revived Knitting Factory Records on the first American overview on the music of the late Fela Kuti, Nigeria’s premier activist music maker. The Knit has just acquired the US rights to the entire Fela catalog from EMI and others, the project organized by Fela’s longtime manager, Rikki Stein. ARC scanned 12 rare covers in our collection, all of them available nowhere else, and digitized two LPs, replacing lost or damaged content, from our collection of over 200 Fela releases. Look for a massive set of box sets, on vinyl, sometime next year. This is EXACTLY the kind of work we love doing, and can do. Thanks to Tim Putnam and Stephen Hendel at the Knit. Mr. Handel has also been instrumental in bringing the Bill T. Jones musical Fela to life.

Scans of labels and covers continue to be the ARC’s most requested work, this year including one of our rare Robert Johnson 78 for BMG Records, some Monkee singles for Reader’s Digest, a big pile for Oprah Magazine, Nonesuch and classic jazz originals for a reissue series for the Verve Music Groups (thanks Harry) and popstuff for Universal.

We continue to provide all the scans of important recordings added to the newly formed Grammy Hall of Fame in LA. Project head Ken Visite visited ARC in May and on Grammy night 2008 I sent off the batch of scans for this years inductees.

FILM
Film work this year included searches for Ang Lee’s, “Taking Woodtock.” Richie Havens asked us to locate a rare promo live single, “Handsome Johnny” that was attached to a live LP. Well we had one, sealed, and sent it off to be professionally copied and synched to film footage – it’s a long story why Warner Films won’t let Warner Music use the song from the Woodstock film! Joe Boyd, the music supervisor, also asked us to locate, “Inside Bert Sommer” by the self-same Bert, an LP from 1969 on the Eleuthra label. Believe it or not Bert (who?) performed at Woodstock and they have been searching for months for the LP. ARC had four Bert Sommer LPs – honest, I had never heard of him! Of course Freddie had. This is why we save everything. You never know.

Fruitless work was done on the Bob Marley film that Director Jonathan Demme was readying for release in February. But mysteriously, like Martin Scorsese, he was off the project. Well, we don’t have any other directors on our Board, so I guess this film will never be released.

CHINOISERIE
There’s more than a massive trade deficit connecting the US and China, so ARC offered a tiny bit of help to bring The Chinese Underground Invasion Tour to the USA. The tour was masterminded by Charles Saliba and Michael Pettis of the Beijing label Maybe Mars and the club D-22, and included a series of concerts by punk-inspired bands P.K. 14, Carsick Cars, Xiao He, and White. Photographer Matthew Niederhauser was also here to release Sound Kapital, his book chronicling the Beijing music underground.

ARC was given a wide range of over 50 recent CDs from Maybe Mars and other small Beijing labels offering alternative music made outside the scope and scrutiny of the Chinese government. Also donated were support materials includes hundreds of posters and handbills advertising local Beijing shows, most designed by the hot graphics team, the Cult Youth Collective. A lot of this material was brought back and donated by Ben Bernstein, son of ARC Board member Alan, who was studying in China last summer.

IDEAS
After years, I am getting back to doing reviews and overviews. I contributed a story on “Ási Es…Con Salsa!” an LP by Alfredo Gutierrez and Los Caporales de Magdalena for Wax Poetics. It’s in ish #35, in the “re:discovery” section, at the beginning of the mag. A mighty fine music magazine worth checking out.

Employing an editorial eye, I have begun work on a book of punk 45 covers. Most books on this subject, and most graphic ‘cover’ books in general are pretty lame, so there’s a need. We have an incredible collection here, mostly from having put together, Volume, The International Discography of the New Wave, in the early 80s. Should be fun.

DONATIONS
Here’s the round numbers on the materials donated in 2010 : 44,000 CDs, 30,000 LPs, 9,000 twelve-inch singles and assorted tens of thousands of music related videos, magazines, 78s, cassettes, press kits and books. The devil is in the details, so here’s a few of the angels who made it all happen :

Lois Weiss bought ARC a hi-end Nikon Coolscan slide scanner with auto feed for us to scan her donation of slides she made as a member of the Fillmore East’s Joshua Light Show. Of course of great benefit for other projects – like maybe the 40,000 slides of musicians from press kits in the basement! Ron Saja, who has given over 10K recordings in the past and was the owner of Footlight Records in the Village, again donated a big batch; 17 DVDs, 685 CDs, 237 books, 134 ten-inch singles 78rpm, 40 twelve-inch singles, and 1152 LPs. Ben Young, Director of Broadcasting and Operations up at WKCR, continues to bring carloads twice a year, last batch about 600 CDs and an equal number of LPs.

A killer donation was delivered by Ken Richardson over at Sound and Vision, totaling 3245 CDs, 668 DVDs, plus assorted other formats in the 100s. Other generous businesses include Chris Thieke @ Shore Fire Media (807 CDs), Mark Fotiadas @ Mute, (1000+ CDs), Cory Robbins @ Robbins Entertainment (4954 LPs, 622 seven-inch singles, plus tons of high end audio equipment), Jonathan Lang of the Beggar’s Group US (464 CDs), and Randy Haecker, Robin Manning and Gabby Gibb over at Sony BMG/Legacy (191 CDs, 55 LPs).

Jerry Rappaport, who used to work for Mango and Island Records, moved to a real Caribbean island recently, and cleared out his storage space to the tune of 6132 LPs. This was one of the best gifts we have gotten in years, wonderful material in great condition, and he says, there will be more next year. Keeping to the Islands. Steve Bartels, from the Island Def Jam Music Group threw in 2,669 CDs and hundreds of other goodies.

Extra-ordinary citizens include; Rich Kim (226 ten-inch 78 rpm discs), Julie Lipsius (60 CDs), Robert Singerman (753 CDs plus hundreds of magazines and other assorted goodies), DJ Ray Velasquez (410 CDs, 256 twelve-inch singles), DJ + artist Lucien Samaha (528 LPs), Jim Leavitt (430 CDs), Jim Eigo (195 CDs) graphic master Eric Zim (128 CDs, 116 books), James Conlin (953 LPs), and recordman Fred Shapiro (142 DVDs, 1254 CDs, 105 LPs).

Board member Fred Schneider continues to amaze with his donation of peculiarly wonderful LPs (867), as does longtime ARCpal AP Joseph (1881 LPs, 362 music books). 465 Latin Recordings, all catalogued (we LOVE electronically catalogued collections) were sent by Abby and Maria Lugo. Just for fun Dean Taucher sent signed LPs by Jerry Lewis and Ice-T. Nice that the tag on Ice-T’s says “F— the Police,” now that he has a starring role on TVs Law and Order.

There were countless donations of 10, 20, 40, 125, 200+ by countless others, including; June Hildebrand Abrams, Billy Adler (mostly wonderful X-mas music), Bruce Alexander, Marcos Sueiro Bal, Jennifer Ballantyne @ EMI Music Marketing, Kyle Benson from Verve / UMG / Universal Music, Alan J. Bernstein, David Bither, Nancy Breslow, David Browne, Lucas Cooper at ROIR, Barry Cohen, George Cuttingham, Adam Dolgins, Engine Room Audio, Michael Fremer, Tom Gould, Randall Grass, Jana Hollingshead, Peter & Kathleen Kapp, Bryan Koniarz, Anne Leighton, Sarah Lazin, Adam Lisberg (187 music magazines), Sandy Mancuso over at Putumayo World Music, Cheryl McEnaney, Bryan Mechutan, Dan Morgenstern over at the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers, Nate Oberstein @ Eagle Rock Entertainment, Tom Monday at the Limewire Store, Andy Schwartz, Lawrence G. Sucsy, Guy Smith (over 200 ten-inch 78rpm recordings), Ed Steinberg, Jessica Thompson, Holly George-Warren, David Withers, Peter Wright, and Kevin Yatarola at Palm Entertainment

We wish also to thank Columbia University, and the many corporate donors who helped us get through the year, foremost of which is the Jaharis Family Foundation. Also thanks to Gracenote and BMI. Of course we really appreciate all of you out there who have joined ARC and purchased a membership. Maybe this is finally the year we print up those nifty membership cards?

By the way : Anyone can make a donation these days through Paypal or via this webthing (below). If you can help out with materials, a donation, or spare time, please let us know.

Keep in touch.
B. George

ARChive of Contemporary Music
54 White Street, New York City, 10013
tel : 212-226-6967
e : arcmusic@inch.com
url: http://arcmusic.org
blog: http://arcmusic.wordpress.com






We Built This City On…

8 10 2009

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It is a little known fact that the ancient Nabataeans were early adaptors of new sound recording technologies.  They began with cylinder discs (called columns) but found them awkward.  Later, around 70 BC, they sliced the cylinders into wafer thin segments, well thin for the time, and began recording on the flat side.  Thwarted by a region-only spindle size and fierce competition from the Hittites (every tune a Hitt!) and the Phoenicians (the original Purple Reign), they were soon forced out of the market.  Not to mention the freight, as these babies were 33 1/3 tons.  Alas, here at Petra, unshipped goods, in a format that defies migration, linger still.

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But, I may be mistaken about all this.  What I do know is that the walk through Al-Siq, and the first glimpse of the Treasury through the slice of rock, luminous pink curtained black, is a remarkable thing and well worth a trip through time.

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All I can think of is our last administration, and the inability to tackle any problem successfully, and how everything was ‘hard work”   Please.  Have a look at Ajunta, Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat, Petra.  Imagine signing off on 40 years to carve a rock facade and we can’t rebuild twenty rows of wooden shotgun houses in New Orleans!   Disgrace, I mean I digress.

I’ve spent the last 10 days here in Amman Jordan setting up the first stages of Muslim World Music Day (formerly the Muslim Music Crash Course) at Columbia Universities Middle Eastern Research Center.  It has been a whirlwind of meetings, show-and tells, planning, report writing and visits to archives, schools, libraries, embassies, musicians and government offices.  The project director handling things from Jordan – the man with ALL the contacts – is Kareem Talhouni.

If you don’t know, Muslim World Music Day is an attempt to catalog all the relevant recording in the world, in one day, and surround this core database with informational and entertaining content, online.  Read all about it at our pre-website blog  www.arcmmcc.wordpress.com

Dr+cassettes_smlOne nice find was a thesis, written in English, but only published in Arabic, on Jordanian music, written by Prof Abdel Hamid Hamam the Dean of the College of Art and Design, University of Jordan.  Written in Wales no less.  We will excerpt it in both languages on the Muslim World Music Day website.

Equally amazing is the work of Dr. Mohammed Taha Ghawanmeh , Music professor and Dean of fine art @ Yarmouk University, Irbid, Jordan.  Dr Ghawanmeh has spent his life collecting the traditional music of Jordan, and the result is a 500 cassette edition, each cassette one hour long and accompanied by a booklet of lyrics, notation and explanatory notes.  This is hard work at its very best.  Only two sets of the series now exist and I can only hope that some scholars or universities that read this could find this work useful for their institution of scholarly pursuits.   Here’s the contact for the fine arts dept :  fac_finart@yu.edu.jo and Arabic speakers can call +962 79 574 3535

By the way on the road to Petra I has coffee, and after a 800 step climb rested in a rock solid tea room overlooking the rose red monestary.  Life used to be so hard…

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My favorite reaction to the project was from a woman at the Center who wanted to know if every whore and slut who parades nearly naked on the TV, shaking her stuff, and singing in Arabic would be a part of the website.  She then showed me a few of Nancy Ajram’s videos (mild by my standards) and then exclaimed with a smile, “This is my favorite!”  And shaking her shoulders, “I love to dance to this one.”   Hey, Nancy was on Ophra last month!

With downloading so prevalent and pirating commonplace, music shops have all but disappeared in Jordan – one small chain, The Music Box, holding its own.  Plus the visual versions are very seductive as DVDs and music on TV predominates.  Live music is scarce in formal performance.  This photo is from a concert at Al Hussein Cultural Center taken by Robert Reeder, an ex pro photographer visiting Amman.   Musically, it was the kanoon playing of Tewfik Mirkham (sp?) that was luminous.

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My endless search for actual music collections was finally rewarded on the last day of my visit to Amman with a trip to The Jordan Radio and Television Corp.   Our animated host, Ms. Hala Zureiqat, Director of Jordan Television, listened to our pitch, conferred with her Director, then nearly shouted, “We’re in!”   What has made this trip rewarding is that so many people in the region are willing to support the Muslim World Music Day -  a new idea, on first hearing – so enthusiastically.

In one of the rehearsal rooms we were treated to a short concert by 73 year old singer Mohammed Wahib – sweet, toothless and energetic.  The song is, “Slaima.”

The station has saved nearly its entire history since the 60s on reel to reel tape, and it is mostly catalogued.  The recent past is digitized and can be called up inhouse, electronically.   But for me the real fun was to finally see some real vinyl – 45s, LPs and a full shelf unit of approx 4,300 seventy-eights.

Amman45s1better sml

We will work to make sure this material is cataloged for the project and who knows what trash or treasures we will unearth.  Maybe an early Nabataean disc?





ARC Partners with Columbia University

10 04 2009

It’s taken a while, but here’s the text of the official press release from Columbia University.  Yes, were changing the face (facade) of academic study!

cu_partnership_hall_closeup

Columbia Forges Partnership with ARChive of Contemporary Music
Collection of be-bop, bluegrass, blues, country, jazz, rap, reggae, rock, zydeco
and other forms to be made available for research and education

NEW YORK, April 6, 2009 — Columbia University has joined in a cooperative agreement with the ARChive of Contemporary Music, the largest collection of popular music in the world, to integrate the resources of the archive into arts programming at the university and other educational and scholarly activities.

The partnership is between the archive, Columbia University Libraries and the Arts Initiative at Columbia. Holdings of the archive include the Keith Richards Blues Collection, endowed by Richards, and the 50,000 disc World Music collection.

“The ARChive is excited to partner with Columbia to create innovative academic initiatives and online content to help with the study, understanding and enjoyment of popular music from all over the world,” said Bob George, director of the archive. “One of the first projects under this new partnership will mount the ARChive’s catalog online, for both students and the general public to access. This initial database, the International Discography, will provide data on a half-million recordings in the collection of over 2 million sound recordings.”

The New York-based archive is supported by a remarkable board of advisors which includes David Bowie, Jellybean Benitez, Jonathan Demme, Ellie Greenwich, Jerry Leiber, Youssou N’Dour, Lou Reed, Keith Richards, Nile Rodgers, Todd Rundgren, Fred Schneider, Martin Scorsese, Paul Simon and Mike Stoller.

“The archive is an extraordinary resource and it is an honor for Columbia to make the collection available for education and scholarship,” said Jim Neal, vice president for information services and University Librarian. “We welcome this opportunity to advance wider availability and use of the archive.”
As part of its continuing commitment to engagement in the city, University Libraries and the Arts Initiative will work with the archive to reach out to interested communities to develop programs and projects that support the work of the partnership. The Arts Initiative will work to develop and implement public programming which highlights the work of the collaboration and brings visibility to the archive.

“The Arts Initiative is especially happy to have collaborated with Jim Neal in the expanded access to this remarkable collection,” said Gregory Mosher, director of the Arts Initiative and adjunct assistant professor of theatre arts. “Connecting the arts with other ways of understanding the world is central to the Arts Initiative’s work, and Bob George’s collection is a unique way of understanding the American, not to mention international, experience as expressed through its most popular art form. We look forward to working with Bob, the library, Columbia’s scholars and artists, and artists from around the world to create unique and compelling programming in the coming years.”

The ARChive of Contemporary Music is a not-for-profit archive, music library and research center located in New York City. It collects, preserves and provides information on the popular music of all cultures and races throughout the world from 1950 to the present. Now in its 24th year, the archive consists of 2 million sound recordings and approximately 3 million photographs, books, press kits, videos, memorabilia and related ephemera.

The Arts Initiative was launched by Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger in February 2004 to re-examine the role of the arts in the university and the university’s role in the arts. Under the direction of Gregory Mosher, the Arts Initiative strives to enliven the arts on campus, connect the campus to the city’s culture, and link the arts with other ways of understanding the world. It collaborates with student and faculty partners across the campus, unconstrained by academic field, and works regularly with the city and national and international cultural partners to make the arts a part of every Columbian’s education and life.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top 5 academic research library systems in North America. Its collections include over 10 million volumes, over 100,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 25 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 550 professional and support staff.

About Columbia University
A leading academic and research university, Columbia University continually seeks to advance the frontiers of knowledge and to foster a campus community deeply engaged in understanding and addressing the complex global issues of our time. Columbia’s extensive public service initiatives, cultural collaborations and community partnerships help define the University’s underlying values and mission to educate students to be both leading scholars and informed, engaged citizens. Founded in 1754 as King’s College, Columbia University in the City of New York is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.





Happy 105th Birthday “Whistling Girl”

1 10 2008

Today, the stars aligned while I was alphabetizing the “J” section of the ARChive’s collection of 78 rpm records – a small collection here of about 8,000.  Tucked in between the Harry James and the James Johnson was a runty nine-inch record on Zon-O-Phone.  I pulled it out to take a closer look.  The cut: George W. Johnson’s “Whistling Girl,” Zon-O-Phone, C 5852.  More intriguing, however, was this sticker on the back dates the record to this day in 1903.  That’s 105 years ago boys and girls!

We’re not sure if this is the date the record was released or the date Victor bought Zon-O-Phone’s assets (probably the latter), but maybe more interesting that the synchronicity of the find is that George W. Johnson was one of the first African-American recording artists and was cutting records back when that meant singing the same song over and over into a horn. Unfortunately, however, his recorded legacy was relatively limited. He’s most famous for two songs, “The Laughing Coon” and “The Whistling Coon.”  “Whistling Girl” was another opportunity for him to show off his fantastic whistling skills.  (These last two link to recordings of Johnson’s songs by S.H. Dudley, the recording alias of Victor Records employee Samuel H. Rous who simply seems to be riding on Johnson’s coattails.)

There’s lots more on George W. Johnson in Tim Brooks and Richard Spottswoods history of African-Americans and the birth of the recording industry, Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1890-1919.

Jessica Thompson

PS: Today is her last day for a while, folks, and we’re all sad — DTN





the NICE

3 01 2008

One of the nicest things about the ARC is the nice people who pop up over the Holidays, the nicest time of the year. So Here’s to jolly, saintly, James Doran, who gave us the nicest gift of all to round out the season, 308 jazz books!

James Doran’s donation 07

Jim is a long-time ARC supporter, who’s passion is piano jazz. He has authored Herman Chittison : A Bio-Discography, (International Association of Jazz Record Collectors, monograph No. 2, 1993), and made a major donation of his work, as well as that of Erroll Garner, in the past.

This years donation are mostly out-of-print books, with rarities among the rows, and we needed nearly all of them. ARCster Brian, who is Jazz-knowledgeable, had a look at the cache and pointed out a few nice items…

Inside Be-Bop

Leonard Feather, J.J. Robbins & Sons, 1949, paper,103 pp
“Written by America’s No. 1 Authority on Be-Bop” this book looks beyond the eccentric personality angles of the bop cult — the goatees, berets, and other superficial manifestations — and instead focuses on more serious aspects of the music. Includes a technical explanation with musical illustrations, biographies, photos, and a list of albums suitable for a general introduction to bebop.

Hot Discography
Charles Delauney, Commodore Record Co., 1943 edition (Revised and corrected reproduction of the original 1938 French edition), cloth, 416 pp
Hot Discography was the first attempt to systematically list all “hot” jazz records along with the personnel for each performance.

Duke Ellington on Compact Disc
Jerry Valbourn, Marlor Productions, 1993, paper, 253 pp
Evidence that jazz discographies can succeed when focusing on something other than original pressings of the material. According to the author the compact disc has done more to perpetuate Duke Ellington’s legacy than any other retrieval format. Includes documentation of over 1,000 Duke Ellington related compact disc releases.

The collection contained plenty of other distinguished discographies, including many from Greenwood Publishing focusing on, among others, the Prestige, Savoy and King labels, 25 volumes of The Jazz Discography by Tom Lord, and a whole shelfload of titles on women in jazz; I Had the Craziest Dream by Helen Forrest, American Women in Jazz by Sally Placksin, and Jazz Women at the Keyboard by Mary Unterbrink. You can see the complete list of everything donated on our webthing.

Jim also donated 176 LPs and as clever as we think we are, we had to be told that the one person common to every disc was pianist Tommy Flanagan.

Stealth themed donations are encouraged.

You should all give it a try!

b.ARC





It’s Official

19 11 2007

It’s Official – Today, The New York Times became the Onion – the headline reads :

“Study Links Drop in Test Scores to a Decline in Time Spent Reading”

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And may we suggest:

“Music Linked to Instances of Listening”








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