Pat Conte, pt. 4



Pat Conte

Pat Conte


“Of course I had the Anthology. The Secret Museum was definitely influenced by it. I guess my CDs must be the ‘Old, Weird World,’” Conte muses. “It’s funny, I was a big fan of The Fugs (Smith produced the irreverent folk/proto-punk act’s first album), but I didn’t make the connection at the time. I just assumed that Harry Smith was this crazy genius artist/filmmaker guy who was part of that whole scene. I didn’t realize he was the same Harry Smith who put together the Anthology,” he says, validating the whole “great-minds-think-alike” theorem.

“But I did want to make the ethnic equivalent of the Anthology, which, it turns out, (avant-garde composer) Henry Cowell had already sort of done, with his Music of the World series for Folkways. But it took me years to find those records. And by then I already had the concept in mind,” Conte says, adding that some of his copies of the now out-of-print Folkways LPs appear to have belonged to Cowell himself.

“I tend to think of the first five (regular) volumes as the ‘lobby’ of the Museum,” says Conte. “From there, listeners can go off into the regional discs, like the ones for East Africa or Central Asia, with a little bit of bearing as to how it all ties together.”

The unofficial first volume of The Secret Museum series is Music of Madagascar, a set of 1930s recordings from the island nation that came out in 1992. Originally planned as one of the series’ later regional installments, Shanachie chose to release it earlier to coincide with the buzz generated by World Out of Time, David Lindley’s and Henry Kaiser’s award-winning, three-volume collaboration with Malagasy musicians.” Shanachie’s Nevins felt it would give fans of the Lindley and Kaiser CDs more of a context of where that music came from,” explains Conte. “He (Nevins) really does care more about music than sales. But it did seem like it might help sales, too.” Though Music of Madagascar does not carry the SMM banner, it’s right at home with the discs that do.



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