Sunday, March 22, 2009

Record Labels: Waterbug Records

Andrew Calhoun: Meditation Song


Sam Pacetti: Augustine


I vividly recall the first time Andrew Calhoun came into my radar - I was presenting Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer in my house concert series in May 2001 and Dave, in front of god and everybody in my living room, said that Andrew Calhoun was his favorite singer-songwriter... high praise from someone who occupied a top spot in so many others' lists...

Fast forward a few years, when another friend was bringing Andrew in for a house concert in the South Florida county south of mine, and asked if I'd host him the previous evening - I threw aside my unwritten rule of needing to hear someone live before I booked them, thinking that Dave Carter's words were all the references I needed...

It was the start of a lovely friendship and, a bit later, I segued into becoming Andrew's booking agent for two years - I was a better friend than agent, and we've continued in each other's lives, with never-often-enough (my fault) e-mails and phone calls (his voicemails to me are often songs or spoken word poetry, always sincere and welcome)...

Throughout our connection, I tease (but it's true) that Andrew has become my musical E.F. Hutton - when he speaks of up-and-coming folk artists, I listen. He is able to do this because he has wisdom and experience across the genre (traditional, Scottish and African-American reinterpretations as well as his contemporary folk originals), having started up the Waterbug Records label seventeen years ago. From Wikipedia:

Waterbug Records is a small independent record label based in Glen Ellyn, Illinois specializing in singer-songwriters and traditional folk musicians who do original research. The label was founded as an artist cooperative label in 1992 by singer-songwriter Andrew Calhoun. Calhoun described the label in a column written for Sing Out! magazine: "Waterbug is largely an artists' co-op. All the artists own their recordings and publishing rights. Twenty artists contributed a song and part of the cost of manufacturing a label sampler, which each of us sell from the stage for $5. We are working cooperatively to help each other get heard."

It is a cooperative in the true sense of the word, but Andrew is the driving force, possessing a keen ear, a generous spirit and a fearless heart - artists with releases on Waterbug Records include a virtual Who's Who in the independent folk world: Geoff Bartley, Chuck Brodsky, Jonathan Byrd, Lui Collins, Kat Eggleston, Bob Franke, Annie Gallup, Louis Ledford, Kate MacLeod, Karen Mal, Kate McDonnell, Michael McNevin, Anaïs Mitchell, Sam Pacetti, William Pint & Felicia Dale, Rachel Ries, Danny Schmidt, Cosy Sheridan, Leslie Smith, Devon Sproule, Sons of the Never Wrong, Sloan Wainwright, among many...

I have driven myself crazy, not only on which song of Andrew's to showcase... but which other artist to feature - how to choose from all that talent?!?

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