Saturday, March 28, 2009

Record Labels: Red House Records

Greg Brown: The Poet Game [purchase]

Eliza Gilkyson: Hard Times in Babylon [purchase]

Like so many of our favorites, acoustic roots label Red House was started by a musician looking to release his own records outside the mainstream corporate model. The move was a such a success, in fact, that after two albums in 1981 and 1982, Greg Brown soon had no time to make both the music and the records, so Red House briefly went dormant after its second release.

In many stories, that would be all she wrote. But happily, in 1983, Brown met Bob Feldman, who took over the label, and soon amassed a stable of singer-songwriters from the upper midwest -- Spider John Koerner, John Gorka, and Peter Outrushko among them -- before growing to encompass a more national set of artists of a particularly poetic, usually raw, and generally intimate roots/folk bent, from Eliza Gilkyson, Rosalie Sorrels, and Lucy Kaplansky to Guy Davis and Ramblin' Jack Elliot.

Feldman passed in 2006, but the label which he nurtured lives on. In fact, Danny Schmidt, the newest addition to the Red House Records stable, is playing at my house tomorrow, just two weeks after the release of Instead the Forest Rose to Sing.

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