Your Past Will Come Back To Haunt You: Omnivore and Dust To Digital - Two Record Labels That Matter
"We don't do just one type of format" she continues. "Each project has its own context, and that drives what the format will be. I mean"she points to a copy of Neon Art that sits between us on a coffeeshop table. It's a red neon vinyl LP of Art Pepper that consists of two extended live performances taken from a 1981 gig. The album cover is diecut to reveal the colored vinyl, which tints Pawelski's cheek orange as she picks up the LP and holds it to the light"Look at this. Somebody maybe even who doesn't know who Art Pepper is, why wouldn't they look twice at this? If we can get some seventeen year old kid to check out Art Pepper and read (Pepper's autobiography) Straight Life, how cool would that be?"
(If it keeps them 'em off drugs...)
Arriving at context is often as utilitarian as it is aesthetic.
"In the cases of some of what we put out, we might have the rights to vinyl but not digital," she continues. "Some stuff, it might not really make sense to do LP's but CD's are fine, orif it's something really ephemeral, a digital-only release might be best. If it's something like (seventies Bay Area soul singer) Darondo, the audience for that is vinyl at least as much as CD, so why not? And, if you're gonna do vinyl, why not colored vinyl?"
"Some of these thingsespecially since we do things that have extensive packaging like booksdefine themselves. We're right now trying to get everything we have that's LP-only into digital, and we're talking to our pressing plant about download cards and that stuff. But there are some things that reveal themselves when you're putting one of these projects together, and you're a fool if you don't let that take control."
Dust To Digital's third release, Fonotone Records Frederick, Maryland (1956-1969), anthologized an obscure label run by legendary 78's collector Joe Bussard, whose encyclopedic collection of pre-war American vernacular music (hillbilly, blues, Cajun, jazz etc) has made him an essential caretaker of American music history. Bussard is one of the guys who owns the kinds of records of which there are five or fewer known copies, and his basement is probably the greatest roots music listening room in the United States. He is a 40,000 volt character in battered decades-old bedroom slippers, screaming alternately about how awful new music is and how stupid Democrats are. His diet is egregious, and only in recent years has he given up his trademark cigars. He is however one of the most knowledgable collectors I've ever been around, but he's unlikely to write a book about what he knows. Instead, he does a comprehensive and entertaining radio show for which he is relatively subdued (and which is available as a free podcast on itunes).