Down in the Basement with Joe Bussard
March 19, 2012 2 Comments
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As you probably know from our previous post, it’s long been a dream of ours to meet Joe Bussard and hang out in his basement, which houses, among many other treasures, 15-16,00 rare 78rpm records. From Robert Johnson’s famed “Crossroad Blues” to rare recordings of authentic Cuban music to radio skits, Joe has it all. He also has the most Black Patti records of anyone in the world. As for the trip, well, it’s just about all here in this episode. Once you descend the stairs to the basement and Joe hits play, time stops. It’s disorienting in the best sense of the word. On the ride back to Jay’s house, it took us over an hour before we could communicate with each other again. We hope that comes through in this episode. Aside from letting us hear music that could have been lost forever, Joe had us in stitches with his stories of record hunting, pirate radioing, playing shows with the likes of Bill Monroe, and, well, we’ll save the rest for the episode. We had a helluva lot of fun, and hope you do, too.
As for the music you hear, well, it’s quite hard to keep track of what’s spinning, be it the record or your head. Joe drops the needle, the song ends, and he’s gone in a flash to grab the next, bringing you a soundtrack purely by association from record to record, all of which are categorized in a way only he knows. It’s not alphabetical, that much we know. How he does it we’ll never know. Still, we’ve done our best to put together a rough track list of what you hear as it’s played.
“Gospel Plow” by Patrick’s niece Abby
“California Desert Blues” by Lane Hardin
“Crossroad Blues” by Robert Johnson
“The Wagoner’s Lad” by Buell Kazee
“A Mountain Boy Makes his First Record” by Buell Kazee
“Election Day in Kentucky” by Goods Box Whittlers (Buell Kazee and others)
A selection of songs from Joe’s record label Fonotone Records.
We know that we heard “Big Legged Mama” and “Tennessee Drag” by Ted Kreh (who plays under the name Milo Way sometimes)
We also heard songs from Jolly Joe’s Jugband, Bluegrass Travelers, and more.
Many of these songs were gathered in this box set.
Joe’s “Ethnic Stuff”
Joe takes us out by playing his Martin guitar, using a screwdriver as a slide.
Thank you, Joe.
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