Richard Skelton is an artist from Lancashire in the UK. He started his Sustain-Release Private Press in 2005 as a commemorative tribute to his late wife Louise, with the intention of publishing her artwork alongside his own musical offerings. Since its inception he has released a slew of raw, beautiful recordings presented in lovingly-assembled, individualised editions.
Operating under a variety of guises, including Heidika, Carousell, Harlassen and Clouwbeck, Skelton creates powerful, instrumental music out of densely-layered acoustic guitar, bowed strings, piano, mandolin and accordion, often laced with delicate, shimmering percussion. The result is something utterly unique - a music which is both life-affirming and yet etched with memory and loss, evoking equal parts Arvo Pärt and Ry Cooder, Nick Drake and Henryk Górecki.
It is with A Broken Consort, perhaps, that Skelton most-assuredly draws these elements together, creating an ever-changing drift of rich textures and interleaved melody that effortlessly evokes the landscapes which inspired it. Box Of Birch, his second album in this guise, was originally published in a boxed edition that contained, among other things, birch twigs collected from the West Pennine Moors. For Skelton these things act as a synecdoche for the landscape itself, a physical connection to the places in which much of his music is recorded.
In this new edition for Tompkins Square, Skelton has created an exclusive series of artworks which draw on the hidden histories of the English landscape, and their narratives of displacement and loss. The result is something which perfectly complements the music whilst adding another dimension, providing a fuller picture of the artist’s vision.
1. A Sundering Path
2. Weight Of Days
1. Something Fell
2. The Elder Lie
Crow Autumn is the latest album by English composer Richard Skelton, who releases haunting and evocative music under a variety of guises through his own much-acclaimed Sustain-Release Private Press. From Clouwbeck to Heidika, Carousell to Riftmusic, his recordings brim with intensity and stark beauty, redolent of the landscapes that inspire them.
Recording here as A Broken Consort – his most prolific and successful pseudonym – Skelton expertly builds on the achievements of last year's Box Of Birch, creating a dense-yet-delicate weave of textures from a broad palette of acoustic instruments, including guitar, mandolin, piano, violin and accordion.
The result is a stunning sequence of swells and eddies, culminating in the orchestral intensity of 'The River', with its torrent of interleaved violin melodies and seething undertow. Originally released in two installments on the artist's own label, this special edition for Tompkins Square distills the essence of those recordings into a coherent whole, and augments them with new material, including the beautifully elegiac 'Like Rain', and the brooding coda of 'Leaves'.
With Crow Autumn, Skelton has created a work of enduring beauty that should firmly establish him as one of England's most uniquely talented contemporary artists, capable of rendering with a fine brush the visceral majesty of the natural landscape.
1. Day Reveals
2. A Mercy kill
3. Like Rain
1. The River
Unreleased performances by Dave Van Ronk, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Kate McGarrigle, Rick Danko, Anais Mitchell, Sleepy John Estes, Arlo Guthrie, Sarah Lee Guthrie, and more.
Nestled in the quaint upstate town of Saratoga Springs, New York is Caffè Lena, the oldest continuously operating folk music coffeehouse in the US. Opened by Lena Spencer in 1960, this tiny room has played host to influential artists across diverse genres of music; traditional folk, blues, singer-songwriters, jazz and bluegrass. Luckily, many performances were caught on tape through the years, offering the listener a thrilling seat inside this hallowed venue. 'Live At Caffè Lena', a 3-CD box set, the result of years of investigative research, contains 47 tracks, all released for the very first time, alongside previously unpublished photographs. Images include selections from the archive of esteemed photographer Joe Alper, who captured many iconic, intimate portraits from the folk era of the 1960s.
'Live At Caffè Lena' documents an important folk universe that was and is still happening in upstate New York, a story heretofore largely untold. The release of this collection comes at an auspicious time in light of renewed interest in the New York folk scene of the 60s as depicted in the forthcoming Coen Brothers film, 'Inside Llewyn Davis.' The film is loosely based on Dave Van Ronk's 2005 memoir 'The Mayor of Macdougal Street.' Van Ronk, a Caffè Lena regular, served as a mentor to many artists, some who would go on to eclipse his fame. His 1974 recording of "Gaslight Rag"featured on the box set references the Gaslight Café, a famed Greenwich Village venue that along with Caffè Lena was a catalyst for the folk music revival.
Caffè Lena embodied the spirit of the folk boom, the era and its artistry, building a reputation as a hotbed of creativity and connection. It was also a safe haven and nurturing space for artists, its atmosphere cultivated personally by Lena Spencer herself. She would graciously house wayward artists, sometimes for months at a time. But she was not merely a host. She championed artists, from Bob Dylan as early as 1961 all the way through the 80s until her passing. Her passion for identifying and promoting talent is evident throughout this 3-CD set. That Caffè Lena is still open for business tonight is a testament to her legacy.
'Live At Caffè Lena' is an important visual and audio document - 40+ years of our collective music history unearthed from dozens of "lost" tapes - night after night, show after show, through the decades - captured on tape in a tiny room in Saratoga Springs, New York.
1. Intro by Lena Spencer / Guy Carawan Cripple Creek 1970
2. Hedy West Shady Grove 1968
3. Intro by Lena Spencer / Sleepy John Estes Holy Spirit 1974
4. Frank Wakefield and Friends Will The Circle Be Unbroken 1971
5. Jean Ritchie West Virginia Mine Disaster 1969
6. Billy Faier Hunt The Wren 1967
7. Greenbriar Boys Hit Parade of Love 1968
8. Mike Seeger O Death 1971
9. Jacqui and Bridie Hello Friend 1974
10. Tom Paxton Morning Again 1968
11. David Amram Little Mama 1974
12. Patrick Sky Reality Is Bad Enough 1971
13. Rosalie Sorrels Travelin' Lady 1974
14. Smoke Dawson Devil's Dream 1968
15. Utah Phillips The Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia 1974
16. Michael Cooney Thyme It Is A Precious Thing 1974
17. Kate McGarrigle and Roma Baran Caffè Lena 1972
1. Intro by Lena Spencer / Dave Van Ronk Gaslight Rag 1974
2. Jerry Jeff Walker Mr. Bojangles 1968
3. Barbara Dane Mama Yancey's Advice / Love With a Feeling 1968
4. Roy Book Binder Ain't Nobody Home But Me 1974
5. Intro by Lena Spencer / David Bromberg The Holdup 1972
6. Ramblin' Jack Elliott Pretty Boy Floyd 1992
7. Arlo Guthrie City of New Orleans 2010
8. Aztec Two Step The Persecution and Restoration of Dean Moriarty 1989
9. Happy And Artie Traum Trials Of Jonathan 1974
10. Rick Danko It Makes No Difference 1988
11. Paul Geremia Something's Gotta Be Arranged 1989
12. Robin and Linda Williams S-A-V-E-D 1987
13. John Herald Ramblin' Jack Elliott 1991
14. Pete Seeger Somos El Barco (We Are the Boat) 1985
1. Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion Folksong 2013
2. Anais Mitchell Wedding Song 2013
3. Bill Morrissey The Last Day Of The Furlough 1990
4. Patty Larkin Island Of Time 1992
5. Greg Brown Flat Stuff 1989
6. Mary Gauthier I Drink 2013
7. Sean Rowe Old Black Dodge 2013
8. Tom Chapin Cats In The Cradle 1987
9. Intro by Lena Spencer / Christine Lavin It's A Good Thing He Can't Read My Mind 1987
10. Bill Staines Sweet Wyoming Home 1990
11. Bucky and John Pizzarelli I Like Jersey Best 1989
12. Rory Block That's No Way To Get Along 1989
13. Chris Smither Killing The Blues 1989
14. Tift Merritt Traveling Alone 2013
15. John Gorka Down In The Milltown 1990
16. Lena Spencer Dear Little Cafe 1972
A singer sits at the piano and loses all inhibitions while in complete control of the instrument: Little Richard, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis. Although church singer Arizona Dranes doesn't come close to the stature of those icons, she set the mold for rockin' singer/ pianists in 1926 with six "test records" that have stood the test of time.
Until now, very little has been correctly reported about Dranes other than the facts that she was blind, from Texas, had a piercing Pentecostal voice and was the first recording artist to play piano in the secular styles of the day, while singing words of deep praise.
Michael Corcoran, former music critic and columnist for the Austin American-Statesman, has spent years unearthing revelatory details on the life of the mysterious woman behind the music. The book includes a CD containing all 16 of Arizona Dranes' recorded tracks, expertly remastered from the original OKeh label 78 RPM records by Grammy-winning producer Christopher King.
The book is also available digitally (without the music) as an eBook.
Ben Hall is a multi talented entertainer from Okolona, Mississippi now living in Nashville, TN. In 2005, he won the National and International Thumbstyle Guitar Contests, as well as the Horizon Award from the National Thumbpicker’s Hall of Fame. Ben has also been recognized nationally as a singer/songwriter who prefers traditional styles of music.
Hall has performed at some of Nashville’s most famous venues including the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Although he makes frequent appearances as a soloist, Hall has worked the stage as a sideman for legends such as Jeannie Seely, Jan Howard and Charlie Louvin. Ben has recorded with Louvin, Kurt Wagner & Cortney Tidwell, and Candi Staton.
Tompkins Square is proud to release his debut, Ben Hall!, an album full of guitar tunes heavily influenced by his heroes Merle Travis and Chet Atkins.
Produced by Eric "Roscoe" Ambel.
Irish singer/songwriter Brigid Mae Power has shared stages with Lee Ranaldo, Alasdair Roberts, Richard Dawson, and Ryley Walker.Born in London to a big Irish family, she moved to Ireland (Galway) when she was twelve years old. In addition to the guitar, she plays accordion, baritone ukulele, piano and harmonium; creating hauntingly dreamlike soundscapes.
Originally released on the influential label Black Jazz in 1971, guitarist Calvin Keys' debut is a stone classic waiting to be re-discovered. The funky, deep grooves and Calvin's singular guitar stylings, coupled with a heady collaborative feel that inhabits so many early '70's jazz recordings, are all on beautiful display. 40 years later, Tompkins Square proudly re-issues this LP on 180g vinyl just in time for Calvin's 70th Birthday (February 6th, 2012).
Calvin's musical roots originate in his hometown of Omaha, NE, playing with legends like Eddie 'Cleanhead' Vinson. Shortly after the release of his debut LP 'Shawn-Neeq', Calvin was hired to tour and record with Ray Charles. By the mid-70's, Calvin was working steadily with pianist Ahmad Jamal on the road and in the studio. Since settling in the Bay Area in the mid-70's, Calvin has recorded numerous solo albums and played with many greats, including Taj Mahal, Bobby Hutcherson, Big John Patton and Dr. Lonnie Smith. In 2007, fellow Midwesterner and big fan Pat Metheny included the song "Calvin's Keys" on his album, 'Day Trip'.
1. Must You Throw Dirt In My Face (w. George Jones)
2. Great Atomic Power (w. Jeff Tweedy)
3. Blues Stay Away From Me (w. Bobby Bare Sr. & Tom T. Hall)
4. The Christian Life (w. Eef Barzalay of Clem Snide)
5. When I Stop Dreaming (w. Elvis Costello)
6. Waiting For A Train (w. George Jones)
7. Kneeling Drunkard's Plea (w. Alex McManus of Bright Eyes)
8. Worried Man Blues (w. Kurt Wagner of Lambchop)
9. Grave On The Green Hillside (w. Tift Merritt & Joy Lynn White)
10. Knoxville Girl (w. Will Oldham)
12. My Long Journey Home (w. Paul Burch)
First-ever vinyl re-issue of the 1968 psych classic by Dino Valente (Quicksilver Messenger Service)
First time commercially available in glorious MONO
Recorded under the supervision of Bob Johnston (Dylan, Cohen, Cash)
Remastered from the original tapes by Grammy-winning engineer Warren Russell-Smith
Original liner notes by Ralph Gleason
Dino Valente's best known tune, 'Get Together', served as a counter-culture anthem for millions. He was also lead singer for seminal San Francisco psychedelic band Quicksilver Messenger Service. But it's his lone solo LP which has often been held in the same vaunted company as Skip Spence's 'Oar' as a lost, forgotten classic.
The album continues to inspire new generations of artists, such as James Toth of Wooden Wand, who says, "This long overdue reissue is a public service to loners, stoners and dreamers everywhere. Buy two copies; you will wear the first one out."
Matt Valentine of MV&EE also effuses, "It's a masterpiece . . . the songs, the vibe, the verb, the cojones. A stoned out killer - an LP that I continue to listen to regularly to this day. It was a huge influence on my first solo LP "Space Chanteys" and the production is awe-inspiring, in many ways ground zero for my spectrasound techniques."
Released as a short-run private press LP in 1965, Fate Is Only Once has long been a coveted collectible among American Primitive guitar enthusiasts. The only other recorded work by Taussig surfaced on the out-of-print Takoma LP Contemporary Guitar Spring '67 alongside John Fahey, Robbie Basho, Max Ochs and Bukka White. "Dorian Sonata" was recently featured on the acclaimed acoustic guitar compilation Imaginational Anthem Vol. 1, and now the album is here, with original liner notes and vintage photos.
1. Baby Let Me Lay It On You
2. That'll Never Happen No More
3. Blues For Zone VII
4. Dark Town Strutter's Ball
5. R.R. Bill & Co.
6. Rev's Rag
7. Sugar Babe, Your Papa Cares For You
8. National Ragtime Stomp
9. Rondo To Death
10. Monte's Blues
11. Dorian Sonata
12. St. Louis Tickle
13. Fate Is Only Once