| 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
ARChive of Contemporary Music
54 White Street, New York City, 10013
tel : 212-226-6967
e : email@example.com