New Arrivals, Restocks, & Selected Rarities - summer 2015

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79rs Gang
Fire on the Bayou
Sinking City
LP
$13

“79rs Gang are Big Chief Romeo Bougere of the 9th Ward Hunters and Big Chief Jermaine Bossier of the 7th Ward Creole Hunters. Traditionally rivals representing different tribes in different wards of the City, these Big Chiefs have come together to shine the light on this unique culture and sound. Call and response lyrics detail the realities of New Orleans notoriously rough streets and highlight the unique aspects of Mardi Gras Indian culture, where Indians spend the entire year sewing an elaborate new suit to debut on Mardi Gras morning. These calls and chants interplay with the sounds of bass drum, snare, bottles, cowbell, cymbals, and handclaps, calling both on the ancestors and warning contemporaries to stay out of the way.

“Mardi Gras Indian culture is endemic to New Orleans. For well over 100 years men, women, and children have masked in elaborate feathered and beaded suits painstakingly hand sewn over an entire year. Mardi Gras Indians tell the stories of their origins where escaped African slaves found refuge and intermarried with the Native Americans of South Louisiana. Suits glorify resistance to slavery, to cowboys, and to the ethnic cleansing of native people. Each year at Mardi Gras time, both of these Big Chiefs lead their own gang out on the streets of New Orleans. Fire on the Bayou is a chance to experience that excitement at any time or place.” - Sinking City. Hear Drama: https://soundcloud.com/sinking-city-records/03-drama
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Tom Carter
Numinal Entry
Halatern, Etc.
LP
$18

"This is the second release from the Halatern, Etc. label, run by Keith Connolly (of NNCK/No-Neck Blues Band fame). Tom Carter requires no introduction (those who are curious are encouraged to visit the historically rich wholly-other.com). Of late, his Kazuyuki K. Null meets Franco Falsini excursionary instrumentalism has taken on an increased luminosity, due in no small part to some unexpected time spent at a certain house on the borderland. In his own words: 'Information-inscribed ribbons unravel from a spool spinning into relaxed entropy. Floating smoke-scrap phrases dissolve before the awakening namer; whispers of causation refute a dozen irreal plot lines, showering text onto re-emergent reality as a deeper narrative retreats to a place hidden from scrutiny. I am awake, and you are here with me. Holding our hands before our eyes we stare skyward, light leaking through our fingers, rays shift and rearrange as we flex our fingers. The beams emanate from within, not without; the light pours out of our eyes, animating all we see, bearing the unbearable heat in us. These memories intertwine with 'reality' in a way that's impossible to parse. One night not so long after my return, I attempted to transcribe them in the only sensical way, via degenerating melodic and harmonic arcs, free of the inevitable collapse of language. These recordings are the result.' The recordings he speaks of comprise Numinal Entry, the second LP released by Halatern, etc. The sounds contained therein offer a glimpse of something slightly outside of living experience, something slowly holy, and something eternal. Edition of 300 copies." - Halatern, Etc. Hear some of Numinous.

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Kyle Eyre Clyd
Pale Dawn Creeps
Halatern, Etc.
LP
$18

"This is the first release from the Halatern, Etc. label, run by Keith Connolly (of NNCK/No-Neck Blues Band fame). "Is it the sight of death, the thought of saying? What sinks us deeper into melancholy: sexual incompleteness or its spastic conclusion? What seems to line our life with satin? What brings the rouge to both our cheeks? Loneliness, emptiness, worthlessness, grief... each is an absence in us. We have no pain, but we have lost all pleasure, and the lip that meets our lip is always one-half of our own. Our state is exactly the name of precisely nothing, and our memories, with polite long faces, come to view us and to say to one another that we never looked better; that we seem at last at peace; that our passing was... well -- sad -- still -- doubtless for the best (all this in a whisper lest the dead should hear)" --William Gass, from On Being Blue. Kyle Clyd is of an orphaned ascendancy, more Geeshie Wiley or Anne Gillis than any of her visible peers. In talking about Pale Dawn Creeps, her debut full-length, she refers a kind of blues, itself perhaps a mercurial essence resigned to antiquity: "To believe that the bits of paper in your pocket have real value or to take the word for the thing itself is the 'unpardonable sin' of the New Testament. Those guilty are condemned to blackness. Black manifests in the instant the accusatory finger is lifted, or guilty hand raised, but blue is not so easily won. Blue is not a second coming, but its denial -- our shortcomings hovering in the dead air of judgment's lag." While certainly not blues in the traditional (read: idiomatic) sense, Pale Dawn Creeps' depth-of-shallows abstraction belies an unmistakable lyricism and almost sing-song vacancy that is something of a cipher, asking where, when it has all been said, do songs really come from? Edition of 300 copies." - Halatern, Etc. Hear some of The Creep.

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Blind Uncle Gaspard & Delma Lachney
On the Water's Edge
Mississippi
LP
$13

"Twelve great songs recorded by two of Cajun musics finest and most unusual artists—BLIND UNCLE GASPARD and DELMA LACHNEY. All songs originally released on 78 in the late 1920's. Fragile and dignified performances with French vocals accompanied by guitar or fiddle or sometimes both. Impeccable ballads and breakdowns. Old school 'tip on' cover." - Mississippi. Truly sublime music. Hear Blind Uncle Gaspard's Natchitoches (French Town) & Delma Lachney's Le Bebe Et Le Gambleur (The Baby And The Gambler).

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Lum Guffin
s/t
Mississippi
LP
$14

“Lum Guffin has been called 'The Walking Victrola' - a human depository of many musical styles and songs. This LP features great performances recorded in the early 1970's of Lum - playing guitar and singing. His style is distinctive and beautiful. A true great of the blues genre who has been seldom heard. We are proud to present this beautiful limited edition of his material with a silk screened cover (4 different color variations have been made - you will get a random selection when ordering).  A co-release with the king of blues reissues label - Sutro Park.” - Mississippi. Hear Jack of Diamonds. Read the notes to his original Walking Victrola LP via Stefan Wirz's indispensable website: http://www.wirz.de/music/flyright/grafik/503b4.jpg

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Michael Hurley
Armchair Boogie
Mississippi
LP
$15

"Improved version complete with a comic book and an old school 'tip on' cover. Michael Hurley's most popular album, and with good reason. Contains all time classics such as Werewolf, Sweedeedee, Troubled Waters, Open Up and more. Recorded in 1970. The real deal as it was meant to be heard and seen." - Mississippi. Hear the beautiful Sweedeedee.

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Rev. Charlie Jackson
Lord You're So Good: Live Recordings, Vol. 2
50 Miles of Elbow Room
LP
$20

Lord You’re So Good is the second volume in an ongoing retrospective of Rev. Charlie Jackson (1932-2006), one of the all-time great gospel guitarists. This collection continues to draw from Rev. Jackson’s extensive archive of private recordings that were usually made live-in-the-church on a portable cassette recorder as he traveled throughout Louisiana and Mississippi from ~1970-2000. 

Whenever there was an opportunity to join in and praise the Lord, Rev. Jackson was eager to be involved. In addition to performing his own songs, he served as a guitar accompanist to a wide range of solo singers, quartets, and bands. He would also sometimes provide a musical background to sermons and testimonies, accenting and punctuating them at key moments. Even when not performing, he could often be found close to the action, shouting encouragement.

The church services at which these collaborations often took place offered structured yet impromptu circumstances where Rev. Jackson needed to be prepared to spontaneously follow and respond to vocalists, congregations, and even members of his own groups. When introducing a singer, Rev. Jackson would sometimes note that he didn’t know what song was forthcoming, and occasionally mention afterward that the selection was a complete surprise, one that they hadn’t done before. At the same time, since he was a frequent visitor to many churches in Louisiana and Mississippi, Rev. Jackson also developed a rapport with some singers who had favorite songs that they would revisit at many different services. 

Regardless of the situation, Rev. Jackson was an enthusiastic, inspiring, supportive collaborator, who gave the same degree of commitment when an accompanist as he did when he was a leader or soloist. Heartfelt praise of God, rather than personal glory, was the goal. And, as his widow Laura Jackson has said, they also had good Holy Ghost times.

Lord You're So Good includes several collaborations with these outstanding and as-yet-unidentified singers, as well as what appears to be a previously unreleased solo studio recording, taken from a tattered, once-unplayable 8-track tape.

Edition of 550 copies on high quality RTI-pressed vinyl, with beautiful old school "tip-on" Stoughton sleeves. Insert includes unpublished photos + notes by Kevin Nutt of CaseQuarter Records / WFMU.

"The recordings are surprisingly clean for having come from old cassettes and the music is as pure as it gets. Jackson's guitar is an extension of his body - a part of his preaching. He beats the guitar like a drum to drive the song, builds the intensity with his voice and strumming, and then goes for the kill with a vicious, naked guitar tone matched by searing vocals. Like the best gospel evangelists, Jackson is a master at building a performance slowly while making the audience putty in his hands. ... A must for any fan of deep, raw, guitar driven gospel. Rev. Charlie Jackson is as good as it gets." - Brett J. Bonner, Living Blues

HEAR 10+ minutes of soundclips

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Mississippi Fred McDowell
The Alan Lomax Recordings
Mississippi
cassette
$6

Cassette issue of Mississippi Records' collection of Mississippi Fred McDowell's unimpeachable first recordings, made by Alan Lomax. Hear Shake 'em on Down, with Miles Pratcher on second guitar & Fannie Davis on comb.

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Carsten Meinert Kvartet
To You
Frederiksberg Records
LP
$24

"The best jazz LP from Denmark which is in very high demand! Remastered from the original tapes, 140g vinyl in polylined inner sleeve, old school deluxe jacket, includes insert with new liner notes and unpublished photos." - Frederiksberg Records. Hear Dansevise.

"Tenor saxophonist Carsten Meinert recorded a stunning and raw homage to Coltrane as To You in 1968-69. … Meinert’s tenor, steely and folksy with hints of Gato Barbieri and Pharaoh Sanders, is more tart in execution than Coltrane, but looks in his direction. … Meinert’s group stamps itself out firmly the mold of aggressive, lyrical postbop and, while certainly nodding towards American forebears, the music is warm, raw, and of a compelling piece. Pianist Ole Matthiesen’s angular, resonant warble provides a shifting harmonic block for the leader’s blistering runs while bassist Henrik Hove and the excellent drummer Ole Streenberg continually stoke the flames. This reissue fills in a few important cracks in our knowledge of modern Scandinavian jazz, as well as looking and sounding quite crisp." - Clifford Allen, NYC Jazz Record

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Isaiah Owens
You Without Sin Cast the First Stone
Mississippi
LP
$13

Very welcome vinyl version of Isaiah Owens' CD on CaseQuarter, which turned quite a few heads upon release in 2004. "In the early 1990s, Isaiah Owens ended a distinguished 40-year career singing lead with the gospel quartet the Flying Clouds of Montgomery, Alabama in order to focus on solo performance. Early in the 1980s, Owens had begun to teach himself guitar and he soon began sitting in on local AM gospel radio broadcasts, most notably with the Montgomery Gospelaires and later with Ann Talbert’s Cheerful Angels program. Always known for his dynamic vocals and piercing falsetto, Owens augmented the initial chords he taught himself with extremely loud volume. Along with emphasizing the rhythmic over the traditionally musical, Owens was not afraid to incorporate dissonance into his playing. The merging of Owens’ unique guitar style with his accomplished vocals makes for an intriguing and original musical experience truly not heard anywhere else in the gospel world." - CaseQuarter. "Gospel meets blues at the level of raw passion in the songs of Isaiah Owens. ... he sings in a voice that rasps like a preacher and leaps into serrated falsetto, letting loose gospel fervor as an exalted frenzy." - The New York Times. Hear clips of I'll Fly Away & You Without Sin.

50 Miles of Elbow Room is grateful to be among those who came together to bring Bro. Owens to NYC for a few performances back in 2004. Tyler Bell's Pray and Get Ready documents this trip: https://vimeo.com/50418242

It's not credited on the sleeve, but note that Yancey Allison took the beautiful photos found on the front & back covers.

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William Parker
Conversations
Rogue Art
book, 455 pages, plus CD
$35

William Parker has long taken an active role in the presentation of his own art (self-produced records/CDs, concerts, festivals, publications) and that of others. That initiative continues with this major work, an anthology of musician-to-musician interviews in the lineage of Arthur Taylor’s seminal Notes and Tones. Approximately 12 years in the making, Conversations has hallmarks of being a very personal project, spotlighting many musicians who are largely unknown to even avid fans of the music but very much a part of its secret history. 

On a personal note, it was an honor to first publish a version of the Louis Moholo interview found in Conversations in 50 Miles of Elbow Room issue #2 and to do the initial transcriptions for the majority of these interviews.

“During the last 10 years, William Parker interviewed 32 of his friends and colleagues, musicians and artists. In addition to the 32 interviews, edited by Ed Hazell, the book contains photographs by Jacques Bisceglia and a CD with excerpts of the interviews and great William Parker bass solos.” – RogueArt

Interviewees: Fred Anderson, Billy Bang, Han Bennink, Jacques Bisceglia, Dave Burrell, Roy Campbell, Cooper-Moore, Wilbert de Joode, John Edwards, Ge Gan-Ru, Charles Gayle, Alan Glover a.k.a. Juice, Milford Graves, Clyde Kerr, Joelle Leandre, Frank Lowe, Nicole Mitchell, Louis Moholo, Joe Morris, Sunny Murray, Sainkho Namtchylak, Jalalu Kalvert Nelson, Patricia Nicholson, Carl Lombard a.k.a. Pelikan, Walter Perkins, Richard Rodriguez, Paul Rogers, Alan Silva, Warren Smith, Oluyemi Thomas, Henry P. Warner, and Mark Whitecage

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William Parker
Conversations II: Dialogues and Monologues
Rogue Art
book, 500 pages, plus CD
$40

Just out, the 2nd heavy tome of William Parker's vital documentation of his fellow creative improvisors. 32 interviews, a 68 minute CD of duos of WP & Kidd Jordan as well as interview excerpts, photos by Jacques Bisceglia, and artwork by Jeff Schlanger.

Interviewees & contributors: Muhammad Ali, Marshall Allen, Tim Berne, Nathan Breedlove, Rob Brown, Daniel Carter, Bill Cole, Jerome Cooper, Andrew Cyrille, On Davis, Ernest Dawkins, Mark Dresser, Douglas Ewart, Giuseppi Logan, Henry Grimes, Mark Helias, William Hooker, Kidd Jordan, Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, Jackson Krall, Yusef Lateef, Helene Lebarriere, Sabir Mateen, Thollem McDonas, Jemeel Moondoc, Butch Morris, Fred Moten, Roswell Rudd, Jeff Schlanger, Wadada Leo Smith, Steve Swell, David S. Ware

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Christian Schwindt Quintet
For Friends and Relatives
Frederiksberg Records
2LP
$32

"Finnish Holy Grail Jazz! Expanded from a single disk to a double 140g vinyl album in old school deluxe gatefold with new liner notes insert telling the story of the group and the Finnish jazz scene in the '60s, includes unpublished photos, remastered from the original tapes, limited to 500 copies." - Frederiksberg Records. Hear Helsinki at Noon.

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J. B. Smith
No More Good Time in the World for Me
Dust-to-Digital
2CD
$15

"Folklorist Bruce Jackson was among the last to record work songs. In 1964 he visited Ramsey State Farm in Rosharon, Texas, where he met Johnnie B. Smith, prisoner #130196. A native of Hearne, Texas, Smitty was 46 years old and on his fourth prison term. In his younger days, Smitty toted lead hoe in a flat-weeding gang and led the work songs. It’s hard to overstate the importance of a good song leader in the penitentiary setting—one needed to be rhythmically, lyrically, and physically reliable, to maintain those songs over interminable hours of hard labor under an unforgiving south-central Texas sun.

"But J.B. also sang other songs, different songs—those he’d made up to occupy himself while chopping sugarcane or picking cotton. He referred to them as his 'little ol’ songs.' The longest stretched to thirty-three verses, or more than twenty-two recorded minutes. Although Smitty knew and sang a variety of melodies, to an assortment of work songs and sacred pieces, he employed only one tune for his compositions. What changed were the tempo and the ornamentation with which he individualized them. 'The Major Special,' 'No More Good Time In The World For Me,' 'Ever Since I Been A Man Full Grown' — each song Smith charged with its own emotional ambience, as a seasoned preacher intuits the particular colors and atmospheres that should imbue each portion of his service.

"Smith was paroled in 1967, a year after his final session with Jackson  and the release, on John Fahey’s Takoma Records, of an LP — Ever Since I Have Been A Man Full Grown — of three of Smitty’s songs. That summer, Bruce arranged for him to sing at the Newport Folk Festival, at which he appeared on stage with Pete Seeger, and, in one of the only photos that survive of him, in the company of Robert Pete Williams and Muddy Waters. A couple of years passed before Bruce heard from him again. He had returned to Amarillo, where he preached for a while; a parole violation then sent him back to prison." - Dust-to-Digital. Hear some of his epic, breathtaking No Payday Here.

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Various Artists
I'm in a Strange Town
Mississippi
LP
$13

"Compilation of top notch Gospel and blues recorded between 1927 and 1967. A mix of very well known artists such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Gary Davis, and Robert Wilkins and more obscure folks like John Lee and Charles White. A record filled with some of Mississippi Records favorite recordings - ripping guitar work outs, soulful ballads, loping drunken jug bands and more. All songs are on the theme of travel, death, and transcendence." - Mississippi. Hear Rev. Charles White's How Long, a personal favorite.

Track listing:
Rev. Charles White - How Long
John Lee - Down at the Depot
Two Gospel Keys - I Love Traveling
Rev. Utah Smith - Two Wings
Mr. Montgomery - I've Been Down
Rev. Gary Davis - Death Don't Have No Mercy
Memphis Jug Band - Stealin' Stealin'
Blind Lemon Jefferson - Matchbox Blues
Robert Wilkins - I Do
Cannon's Jug Stompers - Poor Boy
Charley Patton - Prayer of Death, parts 1 & 2
Washington White - New Frisco Train

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Various Artists
Troubled Waters
Mississippi
LP
$14

“Compilation of blues and gospel recordings made by George Mitchell between 1962 and 1976! The deep hill country stomps and blues of RL Burnside, Rosa Lee Hill and Jesse Mae Hemphill, the hard driving electric guitar and drum music of James Davis, the haunting gospel ballads of Robert Johnson (not the one you’re thinking of) and James Shorter, the flowing beautiful blues of Joe Callicott, Furry Lewis and Jesse Lee Vortis, the drum and fife music of Napolian Strickland and much more. This is the third in the Mississippi series of releases of field recordings by George Mitchell. (the first and second are the Been Here All My Days and Sticks Over My Shoulder LPs.)  Some of our favorite songs of all time and not to be missed.” - Mississippi. Fans of 75 Dollar Bill should be all over James Davis' Instrumental #1.

Track listing:
RL Burnside - Goin' Down South
James Davis - Instrumental #1
Jessie Lee Vortis - Miss Maybelle
Rosa Lee Hill - Count the Days I'm Gone
Jessie Clarence Gorman - Going Up the Country #2
Robert, Norma, Dorothy, & Shirley Johnson - Precious Lord
Green Paschal - My Lord
Jessie Mae Hemphill - I Want to be Ready
Napolian Strickland - Hey Freddie
RL Burnside - Poor Black Mattie
James Davis - Instrumental #4
Joe Callicott - Frankie and Johnny
Cecil Barfield - Lucy Mae Blues
Furry Lewis - Furry Lewis' Careless Love
James Shorter - Home Going
Robert, Norma, Dorothy, & Shirley Johnson - Trying to Make it Home