Posts Tagged ‘Joe Bussard’

Knoxville Stomp – Celebrating Knoxville’s Lost Musical History, May 5 – 8, 2016

March 27, 2016

Celebrating Knoxville’s Lost Musical History


From Knoxville Mercury

In 1929 and 1930, a series of recording sessions—more than 100 commercially released tracks of country, jazz, blues, and gospel music, plus many more that weren’t issued—were made at Knoxville’s long-gone St. James Hotel, on Union Avenue. Bear Family, a German record label renowned for its luxe archival reissues of old-time and country music, is set to release a box set of the existing recordings next spring, and a handful of local organizations involved in the project have announced plans for a suitably grand celebration of the set and the music it documents.
The 2016 Knoxville Stomp Festival of Lost Music, set for May 5-8, is a collaboration among the Knoxville Public Library and its Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound, WDVX, the East Tennessee Historical Society, and Visit Knoxville. The weekend-long downtown event will include live music, speakers, panels, film screenings, a 78 record collectors’ show, and a corresponding exhibit at the East Tennessee History Museum that will run from April 11 to Oct. 16.

The music headliner is Dom Flemons, a co-founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, a North Carolina string band that takes its name from the Tennessee Chocolate Drops, one of the acts that recorded at the St. James Hotel. WDVX will also stage a Saturday concert on Market Square, featuring local bands performing music from the St. James recordings. Amanda Petrusich, whose 2014 book, Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78 rpm Records, explored the world of old-time and blues music collectors, will also appear, as will Joe Bussard, a 78 collector from Maryland whose efforts in the 1950s and ’60s preserved much of the music we now have from the 1920s and ’30s.
“That means that a friend of mine will go up and get him and I’ll drive him back. He doesn’t fly,” says TAMIS co-director Bradley Reeves of Bussard’s appearance. “To me, it’s worth it to have this guy here. He’s the reason for all this. He started it all, at least on my end.”

Reeves met Bussard in the 1990s, when he was working at the Library of Congress. When Reeves drove from Washington, D.C., to Bussard’s house outside Baltimore, Bussard played a song by Ridgel’s Fountain Citians—one of the songs from the St. James recordings. It was the first inkling Reeves had of the sessions and the first time he realized that he might be able to make a career out of preserving Knoxville culture—so having Bussard here again to talk specifically about those Knoxville recordings is a big deal for him.

Reeves and TAMIS archivist Eric Dawson (a regular contributor to the Knoxville Mercury) have been instrumental in the research for the Bear Family box set. The TAMIS collection provided much of the material—dates, photos, biographical information—for the hardcover book that will be part of the set. (They collaborated with Ted Olson of East Tennessee State University and Tony Russell, a noted country-music historian from England. They’re all expected to take part in panel discussions, along with Jack Neely and Bear Family head Richard Weize.) Reeves and Dawson have tracked down new info on Maynard Baird, the leader of a well-known Knoxville jazz combo in the ’20s and ’30s, and Odessa Cansler, a blues singer whose records were never released.

“She fascinates me,” Reeves says. “The records that she recorded but were never released because of the Depression—oh, man, they sound like they could be something really special. We found a great niece who’s 98 years old. She had a picture of Aunt Dessie in her scrapbook.”

The Knoxville sessions are noted for their diversity, especially compared to similar recording sessions in Johnson City and Bristol, which were largely old-time and country music. The St. James recordings were more cosmopolitan, reflecting a vibrant urban culture that’s barely remembered. Reeves says this project can help restore some of that lost history.

“It’s enriched the collections. It’s enriched our knowledge of Knoxville music history in a way that is just unbelievable,” he says. “It’s made me proud of Knoxville—I’m really proud of our heritage and our music diversity. People have a tendency to pigeonhole you as a bluegrass town, but man, it was always going on here, and these sessions capture that.”


Joe Bussard Interview

August 30, 2012


Thanks to for this great interview with Joe Bussard.

by Marc Minsker & Eilon Paz (  Photo by Eilon Paz

Q: What was your first album? How did you get it? At what age? Can you describe that feeling? Do you still have it?
A: The first 78 that I went out and found was….God, you’re going back 50 years or so! That’s almost impossible to remember. I know that I found Gene Autrey records early on but it would probably be Jimmie Rodgers. When I heard him, that about did it. I was hooked.

Q: What prompted you to start collecting? What age did you start?
A: I had a phonograph at my house (still have it) and was playing records when I was six years old. Neighbors would bring records by the house that I grew up in, on Fairview Avenue in Frederick.

Q: What was your Initial interest in music? Did you have any influence from your family? Or perhaps your best friend ?
A: Not really. My family didn’t have much interest in it. I listened to the radio a lot and our local station, WFMD, used to have live stuff…mostly bluegrass. I got more deep into music when I got my driver’s license, hitting up houses, going door to door. In those days a lot of the roads around Frederick were still dirt, and I’d drive up and down every hollow, throughout the County. Learned everyday about some new musician.

Q: are you following any specific genre in your collection? Or maybe pressing years?

A: I got all types of music:  everything from string bands and southern artists to Country blues and early jazz.  Gospel and Bluegrass.  In terms of pressing years, the best stuff is from 1929 to 1933, especially 1931, 1932, 1933.  Nobody had any money, sales were low.  So that what makes the records so scarce.  And people didn’t take care of them with those old damn wind-ups.  Those needles destroyed the grooves.  That’s what happened to all those Charlie Patton records.

Jazz music ended in 1933, with the last recordings of worth being Clarence Williams in 1932. Also Benny Moten’s last recordings (he died in 1935). The problem was the sound changed in 1933; the tone was gone. When they came back with .25 cent records, the sound had changed for good. It wasn’t the same. Lost that beautiful tone.

In 1955, country music had its last gasp. Jimmy Murphy’s records (six titles actually) that were recorded in Trashville, oops, I mean Nashville, were the last real recordings. Songs like “Here Kitty Kitt,” “Looking for a Mustard Patch,” and “Baboon Boogie.” It all changed after that.

Q: Is there a music genre that you avoid?
A: Rock-n- roll. Period. Any of it. Hate it. Worse thing that happened to music. Hurt all types of music. They took blues and ruined it. It’s the cancer of music….ate into everything. Killed Country music, that’s for sure.

Q: A lot of people would claim the complete opposite. that Rock-n-Roll re invented and recharged music. What is it about rock-n-roll that annoys you so much?
A: Don’t like. Just my personal taste. Don’t like the sound of it, the meaning of it…doesn’t promote anything beautiful or meaningful. Idiotic noise, in my opinion. (more…)

Joe Bussard’s Swimming Pool

March 16, 2012

Joe Bussard

edited from the liner notes to “Down in the Basement: Joe Bussard’s Treasure Trove of Vintage 78s 1926-1937” (OLD HAT CD-1004)

One time the guys from [60s blues/rock band] Canned Heat came up to the house.  They came up in a Rolls Royce, with wads of money, boy!  Wads of money, enough to choke an elephant!  I think they had a hit record at the time.

And they went down in the basement, and at that time I had thousands of duplicate records.  You know, I used to have whole shelves of ’em, just dupes.  And they started pulling out things they wanted to buy.  The whole bunch, they all bought something, and it added up.  And by the time they were done, they dropped $9,000.  In cash!  They had the money in their pockets!

So I took the money, and I went out to Browning [the local pool company] and I said, “I want a pool.”  And they come up and looked, you know, and said it would cost $9,000, right around that.  So I have Canned Heat to thank for that swimming pool.  They were the ones that paid for it!  I couldn’t afford one!

Joe Bussard Radio Show

October 3, 2011

Fun to put on when you are cooking supper ….Boy this 9/25/11 show sure gets off to a great start .. we forgive Joe for screwing up performers name at end of the selection…. ha! I remember when I first heard this tune .. I was apple picking up in Peru, NY .. Floored me!

Right here