The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #168926   Message #4111966
Posted By: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
30-Jun-21 - 11:45 PM
Thread Name: Stinson Records Revisted
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
More pre-Stinson Asch trivia hot on the heels of the Leadbelly releases. Lot's of familiar names here and the genesis of what will become the core of Asch Recordings', and by extension Stinson Trading Company's, folk A&R:

““PROGRESSIVE'S Almanac” is a calendar of meetings, dances, luncheons, and cultural activities within the progressive movement. This list is published in connection with NEW MASSES' Clearing Bureau, created for the purpose of avoiding conflicting dates for various affairs. Fraternal organizations, trade unions, political bodies, etc., are urged to notify NEW MASSES Clearing Bureau of events which they have scheduled. Service of the Clearing Bureau is free. A fee of one dollar per listing will be charged for all affairs listed in this column.”
[Progressive's Almanac, New Masses, 25 Nov. 1941, p.30]

“Meanwhile in New York, the Almanac Singers (as they were by now calling themselves) had become the toast of the Left. The three core members moved to more spacious quarters on Twelfth Street and Fourth Avenue, and this became the site of regular Sunday afternoon rent-raising sing-alongs. They were joined by Josh White, Burl Ives, Sonny Terry, Richard Dyer-Bennett, Aunt Molly Jackson, and others. The Almanacs' loft became the gathering place of New York's folk establishment. In a matter of months, there was talk of making a record. The majors would have nothing to do with music whose appeal was so narrow and lyrics so provocative. In the spring of 1941 Asch's commercial recording operation was barely up and running, and besides he had long been a Roosevelt man and would probably have wanted nothing to do with the pacifism implied in such songs as Lampell's “The Ballad of October 16th.” On that date in 1940 the federal government instituted the country's first peacetime military conscription. The meaning of the song's chorus could hardly be mistaken:

        Oh Franklin Roosevelt told the people how he felt,
        We dammed near believed what he said.
        He said “I hate war and so does Eleanor but
        We won't be safe till everybody's dead.”

It was not until Alan Lomax and his colleagues at NBC approached Eric Bernay, a former editor of the New Masses, that an arrangement was made for a commercial recording. Bernay, who had been instrumental in convincing New Masses to sponsor Hammond's From Spirituals to Swing concert in 1938, ran a miniscule recording operation in New York called Keynote Records. Even Bernay was skittish about releasing the Almanacs' provocative songs on his label, so when they appeared that June as Songs for John Doe the label read Almanac Records rather than Keynote. Asch might have been more receptive to the Almanacs' second release, Talking Union and Other Union Songs, recorded later that spring (Asch would in fact reissue Talking Union on LP in the mid-1950s). But the deal had already been made with Bernay (who this time was willing to use his label's name), and besides, Asch's first plunge outside the Jewish market with Leadbelly's Play Parties was still some months away.”
[Goldsmith, p.123]