Dick Spottswood (pt.1)

by

Folk Music in America Series: Edited By Richard Spottswood, 15 Volume LP Set

Folk Music in America Series: LBC3 DANCE MUSIC: BREAKDOWNS & WALTZES, LBC 5 DANCE MUSIC: RAGTIME, JAZZ & MORE, LBC 4 DANCE MUSIC: REELS, POLKAS & MORE, LBC 1 RELIGIOUS MUSIC: CONGREGATIONAL & CEREMONIAL, LBC 15 RELIGIOUS MUSIC: SOLO & PERFORMANCE, LBC 14 SOLO & DISPLAY MUSIC, LBC 13 SONGS OF CHILDHOOD, LBC 7 SONGS OF COMPLAINT & PROTEST, LBC 9 SONGS OF DEATH & TRAGEDY, LBC 11 SONGS OF HUMOR & HILARITY, LBC 8 SONGS OF LABOR & LIVELIHOOD, LBC 12 SONGS OF LOCAL HISTORY & EVENTS, LBC 2 SONGS OF LOVE, COURTSHIP & MARRIAGE, LBC 6 SONGS OF MIGRATION & IMMIGRATION, LBC 10 SONGS OF WAR & HISTORY

by Ian Nagoski (edited excerpt from http://soundamerican.org):

“…there’s exciting music to be found in obscure places, and those are the discoveries I still live for.”

Dick Spottswood has been personally responsible for the continued life of thousands of performances of American music from the first half of the twentieth century.

If you own any reissue collections of vernacular music from that era, there’s a good chance that his name is somewhere in the credits. For more than 40 years, he has been publishing research and producing collections covering an incredibly diverse array of music, including blues, bluegrass, calypso, gospel, the music of immigrants from Ireland, Greece, Poland and the Ukraine, the musics of the Texas-Mexico region, Cuba, India, Portugal, China, and elsewhere.

Born in Washington, D.C. in 1937 and raised just outside the district in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Spottswood joined an older generation of music enthusiasts when he was still an adolescent. During the 1950s,he was one of a group of record collectors who went searching for sound recordings that, although they were only two or three decades old at the time, were already forgotten, a process amounting to a pioneering music-salvage mission.

He began to disseminate the fruits of his listening and interests to the public in the 1960s and by the 70s had acquired a vast knowledge of 78rpm era recordings of a broad range of music. His taste ran strongly in the direction of what he calls “down home” music, and he sought out recordings in any language that seemed to fit that label.

He formalized his vision on a series of LPs produced for the Library of Congress (see above) and then produced his seven-volume Ethnic Music on Records: A Discography of Ethnic Recordings Produced in the United States, 1893 to 1942, which was published by the University of Indiana press in 1990 and has become an indispensible tool for anyone interested in any of the hundreds of thousands of non-English-language recordings made here during that half-century.

Spottswood highlights the many facets of folk culture in the United States on his two hour radio show. Reaching back to the 1890s and the beginnings of recorded sound, but concentrating on music from the 1920s through 1950s, each of Dick’s programs brings listeners a surprising collection of recordings – from cylinders through 78’s and LP’s.

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