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I couldn't have expected this...

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but while I was visiting Victoria over the past week for a conference I had occasion to meet an interesting man. His name is Michael Asch, and he is the son of the man who founded Folkways records. About ten of us were having a meeting at his house and we had just finished talking when my close friend Josh whispered into my ear that Michael's wife was willing to bring us down to the basement to see the collection. I gasped, nodded slowly, and then I was led down a set of somewhat rickety steps into an archive the likes of which I don't expect to see again soon. Along a wall about fifteen feet long was a set of shelves that held records from floor to ceiling. Still sealed in the original plastic, the shelves held a copy of each and every recording that Folkways had produced. They were, to the last, the very first record pressed of each recording. From poetry written and read aloud by Allen Ginsburg, Nikki Giovanni and Angela Davis, to original recordings by Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and 'Trane. And beyond these, recordings made of Cree and Mohawk religious music, Malian folk-singers, Tibetan monks. A priceless collection. I feel blessed to have seen it, if not to have been able to crack the seal on those palettes and spin them just once each to get a real sense of what treasure can be held in a dusty basement. The only other archive of Folkways recordings that's in such condition is held in the Smithsonian. Maybe I'll get a chance to spin their copies one day.




Edited by Guest

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