Caught by the River

Tapestry of the Times

9th March 2009


We received this letter from the good people at Folkways in response to last Thursday’s post regarding their founder Moe Asch. Their website is ace – check out the great cover art – and their pod-casts are always worth a listen. The Snooks Eaglin / New Orleans broadcast from last week is especially good. You’ll find it at ‘Tapestry of the Times‘.


I enjoyed your piece about Numero Group – we love the work they are doing, as there is so much more great music out there (either documented already by others or new recordings) and it takes a network of organizations to make it widely available to everyone.

I did feel compelled to write just to make sure you were aware of what Smithsonian Folkways has been doing since 1987 in order to continue the vision of Moe Asch.

1) We keep all the ~2,200 Folkways recordings in print, and will continue to do so forever. In print means both physically available (as custom CDs we make for customers one at a time!) and digitally, via all major services as well as our own download store (which, btw, offers lossless, archival-quality FLAC format for the same price.

2) We put out dozens of new albums each year, some re-issues/compilations from the Folkways archive, and many new recordings of blues, jazz, folk, bluegrass, and music from around the world. In all, Smithosnian Folkways has released ~400 albums since 1987.

3) We have acquired the recordings of other labels we deemed significant when the label was no longer able to operate. Examples include Monitor Records, Paredon Records, Cook Records, Collector, Dyer-Bennet, and Fast Folk magazine. Each labels’ archive is kept in print by the same process, allowing worldwide access that might have otherwise gone away.

Thanks again for the coverage of Smithsonian Folkways, and I hope this wasn’t repeat information for you. I just felt compelled to reply.

all the best,

David Horgan
Smithsonian Folkways