Feb
05
2006

Hot wax and cool blues

joe_black_patti.gifSaw a fine documentary on IFC the other morning called Desperate Man Blues. The film is about Joe Bussard, a record collector from Maryland with a basement full of 78s, comprising what may be the finest collection of prewar country and blues anywhere. The film was largely shot in Bussard’s basement (where John Fahey cut his first records for Bussard’s Fonotone label), with him spinning records and telling stories. And dancing.

Bussard’s not a fan of the new stuff though, as he told the Washington City Paper in a 1998 interview:

The very term “folk music” rankles him: The music he worships was made by professionals‹backwoods or no‹and released on commercial records that were revolutionary in their day. He dismisses Dylan as “shit,” but then again he despises all forms of rock ‘n’ roll, which to him is no more than the cuss-word verb of its original meaning, a blues double-entendre for fucking. He similarly rejects all country music made after ’53, saying it was finished when Hank Williams croaked in the back of that Cadillac in West Virginia. As for jazz, well, that died out around ’33, murdered in cold blood by the Depression and the arrival of the big bands. When told about the so-called swing revival, he nearly chokes on his cigar, incredulous that anyone would bother resurrecting the brassy dreck of the Dorseys and their ilk.

If you’re into the old time music, you can order custom mix tapes from Joe’s collection, and he’s put out a compilation of his favorites. He also does a weekly radio show that’s available online (if you have the dreaded RealPlayer).

If you come across Desperate Man Blues, it’s definitely worth an hour of your time.

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