You may not know his name, but you know his music. Spooner Oldham is a linchpin of southern soul and R&B. A legendary ivory-tickler whose name is synonymous with the Muscle Shoals sound of Alabama, Oldham has backed and/or written songs for the likes of Etta James, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin and so many more (check out a more complete list here, if you want your mind blown).
In this sparkling career as a session musician and songwriter, Oldham only ever made one album that features his own voice and stylings front and center. Pot Luck was originally released in 1972 and faded into obscurity soon thereafter, but giving the album a second listen today we cannot imagine why. This album is a joyful affirmation of what fans already know: Spooner’s got soul.
We can’t wait for y’all to get to know him better.
Pot Luck is now available for preorder as a single LP in a deluxe gate-fold jacket. LITA vinyl subscribers will receive the album on ‘Lucky Green’ wax. The first 200 online preorders of the LP will receive ‘Galaxy Blue’ wax. Pot Luck will be available on black wax, CD, and digital September 18th.
Light In The Attic & City Arts Magazine are thrilled to announce our second annual Summer Spectacular! Hosted, once again, at our Seattle record store/warehouse in Ballard. This year’s festivities will be co-headlined by two of our beloved musicians: Texas soul legend Barbara Lynn (of “You’ll Lose a Good Thing” fame) and acclaimed singer-songwriter Willie Thrasher (featured artist on our Native North America Vol. 1 compilation). And DJ Kevin ‘Sipreano’ Howes will be spinning records between sets.
Food Trucks (Analog Coffee, The Seattle Cookie Counter, The Gulf, and The Biscuit Box) & beer!
Record Fair (new & used vinyl & merch)!
The festivities kickoff at 3pm on Saturday, August 15th. This event is FREE, ALL-AGES, and open to the public.
To be a woman singing your own blues and soul songs in 1960s Texas was a rare thing. To do so while brandishing a left-handed Stratocaster and bashing out hard-edged licks was even rarer. Enter Barbara Lynn. Her 1962 debut single, “You’ll Lose A Good Thing,” recorded with session musicians including Dr. John, gave her a number one hit, and success that took Lynn out on the road with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, BB King, Supremes, Chuck Berry, and The Temptations. Her’s is a talent that comes into full bloom on Light In The Attic’s recent reissue of Here Is Barbara Lynn, an album packed with passion and fire that showcases Lynn’s prodigious talents, her deeply felt guitar playing, her gutsy soulful singing skills, and her songwriting prowess.
Willie Thrasher is a Canadian Inuit musician from Aklavik, Northwest Territories. He has recorded both as a solo artist and as a member of several bands, including The Cordells and Red Cedar with Morley Loon. Thrasher has advocated for Inuit and First Nations issues for much of his career. Thrasher is one of the featured artists on Light In The Attic’s Native North America Vol. 1 compilation, which Rolling Stone called “stunning Americana from the original Americans.” Having recently performed at the annual Psychfest/Levitation Festival in Austin, Texas, we’re honored to have Willie make the trek south to perform at this year’s festival.
We’ve got so many cool projects comin out that we need a second intern in addition to our current awesome intern at our office in Los Feliz!
We’re looking for someone to come in 2-3 days/week from about 10am-5pm. We’re looking for good people who are passionate about music & LITA, willing to work hard, and who are eager to learn more about the inner workings of a record label.
Tasks will include basic office assistant stuff, project assistant work, and generally helping out with social media, radio outreach and publicity. We really need someone who’s willing to try on a lot of different hats and help out where help is needed that day.
Having said that, we also try to tailor the internship to each intern’s particular skills and interests.
Please send your resume and a cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org, explaining why you’d like to intern at LITA, what unique skills/passions/POV you bring to the table, and what your favorite candy to snack on is. Please make your subject line “LA INTERNSHIP.”
The internship lasts 3 months. We are able to offer school credit if need be.
The Kitchen Cinq | When The Rainbow Disappears: An Anthology 1965-68
They had that cool garage punk sound mixed with a beat-pop likability. They had killer harmonies and a keen sense of the absurd. They had Lee Hazlewood’s stamp of approval. The Kitchen Cinqboys seemed to have it all, but they were missing just one little ol’ thing… success.
Originally hailing from Texas, The Kitchen Cinq really started doin’ their thing in Los Angeles back in ’66, when they released their album, Everything But, on Lee Hazlewood Industries, but by ’68 band life had burned them out and the Texas boys went their separate ways. But what remains is a smashing collection of 60s garage pop that will surely get you jivin’.
A double vinyl anthology,When The Rainbow Disappears is now available for preorder on either blue (200 copies) or black wax. LITA vinyl subscribers will receive marbled rainbow LPs. It is also available as a CD. The anthology will be available for immediate purchase August 28.
Drag City Records is a must know label. Period. They’ve been so prolific throughout their 25 years of operation, however, that getting to know their extensive and diverse roster can be a disorienting task. Maybe Royal Trux’s Jennifer Herrema got it right when she said, back in a ’93 interview with SPIN, “the odd thing that’s cool is that Drag City doesn’t say, ‘this is what we are.’ It says kinda like, ‘I don’t know what the fuck we are. We aren’t anything.’”
The label was founded in 1990 by then 26-year old Dan Koretzky and 27-year old Dan Osborn who ran it out of Koretzky’s tiny apartment. They scoured Chicago’s underground scene for talent and compiled an amazing lineup of artists such as Pavement, King Kong, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (then called the Palace Brothers) and Royal Trux. You could say that DC is driven more by a sense of community and an equal respect for fans and artists than by a desire to define themselves.
Since the original lineup, they have expanded in genre and quantity, welcoming folkies like Meg Baird and Joanna Newsom and experimentalists such as Paul Walker and Flying Saucer Attack. The works of comedians Neil Hambuger, Fred Armisen and Andy Kaufman have also found safe haven on DC. And did you see the 2013 documentary on the 70s Hollywood cult, ‘The Source Family’? That was them too.
We spoke recently with head of staff and sales, Rian Murphy, to spotlight their past accomplishments and to catch a glimpse of future releases.
Since the inception of Drag City in 1990, the label has built up an impressive catalog of releases and a diehard following. Can you tell us a little bit about how DC first got started and how it’s changed over the last 25 years?
Despite what you may have heard, the seeds of music are not commonly made into songs and records. The music comes from the goo INSIDE the enlightened musical mind. When this music-mind is green and full, slitting the side will cause it to ‘bleed’ a sticky white fluid that, when exposed to air, quickly turns to song. It’s firm enough that it may be recorded into demos, then master recordings to be pressed into record – but true Drag City music fiends don’t generally have to go that far. They find ways to consume the goo itself.
DC is known for its unique roster of artists. You guys have put out records from artists across the spectrum, from Joanna Newsom to Royal Trux. Can you describe your artist selection process? What are you looking for in newcomers to the label?
We’re selected as often as we are selective, which makes describing the process difficult at best. The screening process is sort of like a nightmare version of “America’s Got Talent” (a double nightmare?) – but we’re the ones breakdancing in front of the judges! When it IS our call, we’re looking for motherfuckers who GET IT. “IT” being extremely subjective!
In addition to releasing new records you guys also put out reissues. What brought that about? Which do you prefer doing more?
The way we see it, reissues are often new music to many listeners, and new records are often future reissues. A true continuum is our heart’s preference!
What record (contemporary or reissue) would you consider your most challenging or ambitious release to date and why?
The challenge remains one of patience with record buyers. We hope we get old before we die!
You guys have a series going now of comedy releases and reissues including Andy Kaufman, Neil Hamburger, and Fred Armisen. How did that come about and how does that fit into Drag City’s overall identity?
It’s good to have a healthful balance in one’s life – though we wouldn’t know much about that – but when seeking equilibrium, we find that the somber tone of a Kaufman, Hamburger or Armisen release helps mitigate the levity of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, OM, Alasdair Roberts, etc.
What new projects are you working on? Anything you can share with us?
A bunch of new things, which we will share monthly so as not to overwhelm staff and audience alike! Currently topping our charts: Instrumentals 2015, the return of Bristol’s mighty Flying Saucer Attack in a solo-guitar iteration that’s blowing up minds in a whole new way; an LP-only reissue of south Chicago’s hard-rock white hope from the late 70s, Midnight, and their one album, Into the Night; plus an LP of Ghanian Gyil playing from SK Kakraba called Yonye, which is all traditional music played through the sensibilities of a world-traveller (SK lives in California now) with a buzzy, fuzzy sound that you can only get when you hand-craft a xylophone out of wood that’s shaped like a quarter moon in the same way your ancestors did and then load it on a jet plane and fly it around the world! Funky but DEEP.
Cool! Finally, what have you guys been listening to? What’s currently on the office turntable?
Oh, you know, all sorts of stuff – a bit of Joe Albany, some Karin Krog, Lizzy Mercier-Descloux’s Press Color, that Native North America comp – nothing but the newest and the best for us at Drag City!
Aw, shucks! Thanks so much for taking the time, Rian!
“If my dad’s spirit is still out there dancing in the high blue,
I know he is–as he used to say–’digging it the most.’”
- Amy-Jo Albany on the Low Down soundtrack (Image via Discogs)
First came the man himself, Joe Albany, a supremely talented and underrated jazz pianist who lived an extraordinary life full of highs and lows. Then came Low Down, a brilliantly written memoir by Albany’s beloved daughter, Amy-Jo. The memoir sparked the acclaimed biopic of the same name, starring John Hawkes, Elle Fanning and Flea. And now, we step in to present the film’s original soundtrack.
With this release we aim to pay tribute to Joe Albany’s avant-garde, quick-tempo, bebop jazz and to take a moment to give jazz itself our full attention. With Albany’s own compositions as well as tracks by jazz greats such as Coleman Hawkins, Max Roach and Thelonious Monk, this is a compilation that both jazz lovers and jazz neophytes will dig the most.
Now available for preorder on either olive green or black wax. Available for purchaseAugust 7th.
“This is the sound that gives me the energy to go out into the world and try to shine a light. As a child, this is the music I listened to that blew my mind; it let me know that all things were possible.If human beings were capable of doing this, then anything could happen.” – Flea, co-star and executive producer of Low Down
Check out what is perhaps the most intimate track from the album, Albany playing ‘Everybody Knew But Me’:
Bulb uniform required at all times. (P.S. That’s Flea!)
Do you believe in the bulb?
Light In The Attic Records is looking to hire a Label Sales Rep to work in our Seattle headquarters. This is an extremely key role within the company, with this person being a liaison between the label and direct indie retail & non-traditional accounts.
Full Time, Salary + Commission, Health Benefits, 401K
Maintain relationships with current direct to retail accounts
Build relationships with potential & new direct to retail accounts
Schedule, organize and execute in-store promotions & product placements
Work closely with other sales, distribution & marketing staff, and report to the Head of Sales
Attend weekly sales meetings, and track/report daily communications or tasks via CMR
Setup and engage in direct in-person meetings with current & potential customers (must be willing to travel)
Must have significant music sales (2-5yrs) or indie retail experience
Must be well-organized, enthusiastic, self-motivated, determined, and have the ability to multi-task
Must have the ability to clearly communicate Light In The Attic’s direct-to retail mission
Must have a well rounded understanding of Light In The Attic’s artists and distributed labels
Supervisor: Head of Sales
Please submit a cover letter and resumer to email@example.com if you’re interested in reppin’ for the bulb!
Sorting through the folk and blues bin at your local record store, you’ll likely have noticed those mixed media covers of Mississippi Records’ LP reissues. The ones that regularly feature old photographs adorned with hand drawn illustrations and often enigmatic phrases like “I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore,” “Life is a Problem” or “Oh Graveyard, You Can’t Hold Me Always.” It’s not always clear what they are at first, but they’re beautiful, so you pick them up. And therein lies the first bit of genius.
Image via BoomKat.
Image via BoomKat.
Owner Eric Isaacson has been sharing his love of iconoclastic blues, folk and soul music since taking over the label in 2005. The Mississippi Records catalog is hard to define by genre. It draws more from performances that convey the rawest forms of human emotion across all genres. Take, for example, MR’s release of the unearthly 1931 Skip James sessions, the mystical vocal stylings of Pandit Pran Nath, or the self-described ‘last working Southern black minstrel’ Abner Jay. It’s the kind of label that grants the Ghosts of Musical Outliers Past a second chance.
Located in the mecca of alternative lifestyles, Portland, OR, Mississippi Records operates as both a store and a label. In the store, they’ll make you cassette mix tapes and use pen and paper and a well-worn calculator to ring you up. In similar fashion, the label’s business is run without a website nor any kind of paid advertising. Yet, after more than 200 inspired releases, the success of Mississippi Records is undeniable. How do they do it?
We’re shining our spotlight this week on one of the more eccentric labels out there, speaking with owner Eric Isaacson to get the facts straight.
Hi, Eric. Tell us, what kind of music interests you the most?
Anything I can dance to or cry to and nothin’ in-between. (Maybe a little meditation music too). I listened to nothing but Jimi Hendrix this evening!
What kind of music bothers you the most?
Anything with techno/trip hop beats, soft namby pamby whiney indie rock, overproduced new country, practically every pop record from the 1980′s (Prince, REM and Cindy Lauper get a pass) and anything twee.
Can you tell us a little about how and why Mississippi records got started?
We started as a record store in Portland. Alex Yusimov (who now runs the distribution end of our operation) wanted to self release his solo album “Duck Duck Gray Duck” and was, at the time, a transient – so he used the store’s address as his base of operations and as a kind gesture named the release label after the store. Alex showed me how to make a record and I was pretty enchanted by it. Early on, the label was more an outgrowth of the store’s community – releasing a memorial album for my old business partner, a cassette audio zine about police brutality in Portland put together by Erin Yanke, and a cassette of a punk band with the best guitarist in Portland (Marisa Anderson), the worst drummer in Portland (me) and a 10 year old singer/songwriter.
A year into the store being around, me and my friend Warren Hill (who I knew since I was 15 and who now runs the excellent Little Ax label and still co-produces reissues of the early Mississippi catalog with me) teamed up to start doing reissues of music we loved that was, at the time, woefully unavailable for cheap on vinyl. Alex also got into this game and started contributing punk reissues. We mainly did this to fill the racks of our own and a few friends small record stores and never expected the records to be distributed beyond that.
I heard the label got a jumpstart early on with funds earned from a yard sale score. Can you give us some of the details behind that story?
Warren was at a street sale in Chelsea NY and, for 50 cents, found one of two only known copies of an acetate, cut in studio, containing an alternate version of the Velvet Underground’s first record. He brought it to me to sell for him, which proved to be more difficult than you could imagine. We almost had Light in the Attic on the hook to buy it at one point so they could do a reissue of the material, but the deal fell apart when Moe Tucker’s copy of the same material surfaced on a Japanese bootleg. (I wish now LITA had done it instead of the vastly inferior versions that have come out as bootlegs and official releases since then. Such is life, such is love). We finally, out of desperation, sold it on eBay – at the time it was the most expensive record ever sold on that god damn site and the most watched auction in eBay history.
We did not make a fortune off this and Warren ended up using most of the money to move to South East Asia for awhile and take care of some other business. In the end we started the Mississippi Label by both chipping in $3,000 we managed to saved up over a couple of years. We used this cash to make our first two releases – Washington Phillips and Last Kind Words. At the time, that seemed like an insane amount of money to us…
People (including us) love your guys’ mix tape series. How did that come about? And can you give some tips for making a really good mix tape?
The mix tapes were Mississippi Records’ star employee Karen Antunes idea. She kept pestering me saying that if I started mass producing mix tapes, people would be very happy about it. I thought this was a dumb idea – I had no idea there was a market for tapes, especially ones made by a neanderthal like me. One day a friend gave me a duplicating machine and I decided to see what would happen if I got drunk and made 5 mix tapes in one night, duped them, walked to kinkos and xeroxed covers, and put them in the shop the next day and sold them for $3 each. I stayed up all night and by morning had 9 copies of each of the first 5 Mississippi mixes. To my surprise, they all sold out that day. I was really happy with how instantly gratifying this operation was (as opposed to making a record, which takes forever and costs a fortune) and so I started cranking out tapes obsessively. Other members of the stores community started to contribute mixes as well. The tapes ended up being the best way to turn people on to stuff in our store – almost like a radio show featuring the best stuff that has come into Mississippi Records that week. Nowadays Karen manufactures all the tapes in small batches at home and we do our best to keep up with the demand. I’m truly honored that folks listen to them and enjoy them. I’ve been making mix tapes since I was 6 years old – and I never could have imagined a day when thousands of people (thanks to the internet downloads of the tape series) would listen to my work. It’s one of the great joys in my life.
As to tips on how to make a good mix tape….I’d say there are no rules. Do as thy wilt shall be the whole of the law. If you like it, odds are good someone else will like it too.
You don’t have a website and you’ve never paid to advertise for your label. That’s pretty cool, considering your success. At some point do you think either of those will become necessary?
We have been very lucky to have been able to sell records without doing any promotion on the internet or anywhere else. At first, being so illusive was an advantage – it gave us an accidental mystique and made our releases seem more “special.” After the novelty of this wore off, it soon became a hinderance to sales and still is. Still – it is built in as part of our ethic and I’d rather let the company die than change. The whole point of our label was to be a non commercial art project that connected people through music without the aid of the hype machine.
We’ve always relied on the enthusiasm of small record stores and distributors as well as zealous individuals’ word of mouth. If a day comes where these tactics no longer work, than it’s probably time for Mississippi Records to go quietly into that dark night and fade away and radiate. There are so many great companies putting out quality records these days, that I feel like we could go away and the scene would not suffer too bad. If we had to start advertising and hustling to sell product, that would take the fun, joy and beauty out of the project for me. In this one regard, we are fanatical purists.
What makes a great reissue in your opinion? Is it just about making rare material available, or is it about making materials from the past relevant to the present?
A great reissue honors the material. There are lots of ways to do this. You could do in-depth documentation and faithful recreation of the original material, telling the story in full in a way that preserves history. You could repackage the material to be highly listenable to new ears and highlight its strong suits and ignore its weaknesses – historical accuracy be damned. You could make a highly personalized mix – taking old material and using it to express something you think needs to be said. All these techniques can be valid if done with love and genuine reverence for the art in your hands. The most important thing is to be humble and always remember that you are not the sole custodian and arbiter of how this art should be preserved and presented. You are just one of the hands that it will pass through and be mutated through.
Mississippi releases, when most successfully artistic, honor the material and also boldly show our limitations and personality as a label. We do not pretend to be great historians or packaging geniuses. We just make a product that looks and feels like a record we would want to own and enjoy and also honors the songs on it. We’ve fallen short MANY times – but no one can say we don’t try our best. We are of limited time, energy, finances, skill, intelligence and so on – but we keep cranking out product and I am proud of our work despite its severe limitations.
We’d love to hear about upcoming projects. Is there anything new you’re working on that you can share with us?
We have a ton of stuff in the pipe – a record from Mali that was originally only given away free to students at a school for the blind, 2 box sets of unreleased or seldom heard material from the Alan Lomax archive, two great blues compilations, more Ethiopian music, a contemporary gospel LP by Isaiah Owens, more material by label stalwarts Dead Moon and Michael Hurley, an Abner Jay box set (including his unpublished autobiography), modern punk records by Sad Horse and Sun Foot, a killer Greek record (titled “Prison is a fine school”), a new Peter Buck record with a cover by Mingering Mike, reissues of 15 of the best liked Mississippi Records from the past, our favorite Jesse Fuller recording, more classical piano music by Miriam Tsege Gebru and much more. It’ll be a busy year…
Today we celebrate a true international treasure, the hot dog. In honor of the noble dog, we are offering 20% off all LITA & LITA imprint titles on our site all weekend, EXCEPT for preorder titles! The sale will also be at our Seattle record shop, which will be open Friday from 12-8pm. AND, in-store (not online), we’re offering 10% off all distro titles as well! The shop will be closed on Saturday.
Following on the heels of Songs From Suicide Bridge, we are proud to present Misty Flats, another loner folk gem. This time, the music comes to us from Minneapolis singer-songwriter Goldberg and album producer Michael Yonkers. Recorded in ’74 at the tail end of the Vietnam war, while Goldberg’s stint in a would-be successful band was coming to a close, the theme of Misty Flats is transition. In the words of Goldberg himself, the album inhabits ‘”neither the high road, nor the low road, but somewhere in between.” This mood, combined with imagery from the old Hollywood movies that were a constant in Goldberg’s nomadic childhood, creates something very special indeed.
This is an album to listen to in full. Put it on ’round midnight and let it wash over you.
Misty Flatsis now available for preorder in both clear and black wax and will be available for purchase August 14th.
Opening track ‘Hollywood’ sets the tone for the rest of the album:
Because this release is on our imprint label Future Days, unfortunately it is not included in the current vinyl subscription. However, vinyl subscribers can still use their 15% discount to purchase it!