Willie Dixon – Bassology

I found this video awhile back on youtube. It’s Willie Dixon playing Bassology with Sunnyland Slim on the piano. It’s mind-blowing. I can’t imagine anything better than this. And when I tweeted it out, everyone seemed to be in agreement. Blues musician Mia Vermillion said watching the video beats having climbed the Great Wall of China and raising two kids.

Yup. For your viewing pleasure:

Published in: on July 17, 2009 at 2:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Wolfgang’s Vault wins Best iPhone App – Macworld Awards 2009

We’re downright ecstatic that our Concert Vault iPhone app won Macworld’s 2009 Award for best iPhone App, beating out a group that included Google Earth and Tweetie. You can download it now for free and take fifty years of the best live music ever recorded with you wherever you go. Cheers!
Get the Concert Vault iPhone App

Published in: on June 26, 2009 at 6:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Son House Talks About Robert Johnson

I stumbled across this amazing video on YouTube that features Son House recalling some experiences with the legendary Robert Johnson. Amazing music, amazing stories, amazing images.

As Judd6149 commented, Ah “the power & mystique of stories…”

Published in: on June 17, 2009 at 7:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hamza el Din – The Pioneering Musician

Hamza el Din

Hamza el Din

The pioneering Sudanese musician, Hamza el Din, was born in 1929 in Toskha, Nubia. Raised along the Nile River near the southern Egyptian border, Hamza grew up within a culture rich in melody and rhythm, where music was essentially a communal activity of singing and percussion, as villagers gathered to celebrate important events such as births, deaths, weddings, and harvests. During the 1950s, while studying to become a certified engineer, Hamza became aware of plans to build the Aswan Dam, which was intentionally designed to submerge the land of Nubia. Upon discovering this (which indeed happened in the early 1960s), he decided to devote his life to keeping the musical legacy of his soon-to-be flooded homeland alive. As an engineering student in Cairo, he self studied Arabic classical music and began playing the oud, a lute-like fretless stringed instrument. While working as a full time engineer, he enrolled at the Conservatory of Music in Cairo and began formal study of the music he loved. During this time and through subsequent study at the Academy of St. Cicelia in Rome, Hamza began developing a distinctive style of his own, by combining Nubian and Egyptian traditional music within formal structures. He became a master oud player in addition to mastering the tar, a single-skinned drum that came from his native region. His world-renowned debut recording, Music Of Nubia, was released on the Vanguard label in 1964 and to promote it, Hamza el Din embarked on his first concert tour of the United States, which included a performance at the high profile Newport Folk Festival.

During these early forays to the United States, he fell in love with North America. By the late-1960s, he had settled in Oakland, California and began teaching music at Mills College, while continuing to serve as an emissary, bringing Arabic music and the traditional folk music of Nubia to new listeners. In 1971,… Continue reading at the Concert Vault

Published in: on June 16, 2009 at 8:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mississippi John Hurt – “Louis Collins”

The other day I shot out a tweet asking you guys for your favorite Mississippi John Hurt song and why…the trick was distilling your answer down to <140 characters…

There were a couple great responses, including @bosment who thought that “Avalon Blues” is John Hurt “distilled to his essence.” Not going to disagree on that one.

But it was @TweetyStrutter who hit on the head with her pick: “Louis Collins”. She said in reply to my question: “Louis Collins: I never heard a man laugh and cry simultaneously without actually doing either…” Yup. There are a couple recordings of him doing this song out there, and his carefree picking and evocative voice get me EVERY time. Honestly, if you just close your eyes and listen, it’s hard not to tear up…

Here’s our recording of Mississippi John Hurt playing at the Ash Grove on July 5, 1964. In it you’ll find a sublime performance of “Louis Collins”. Just close your eyes and listen.

Published in: on May 18, 2009 at 7:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Just a Quick Quote

“Once I heard the music of the Mississippi Delta, I was no longer English. I was a man of the world.” — Robert Plant

That about captures it, doesn’t it?

Published in: on May 1, 2009 at 9:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

From the desk of Ed Pearl


From Ed Pearl,
Founder of the Ash Grove,
July 11, 1958 through November 11, 1973

The Ash Grove Tapes

During the 15+ year span of the original Ash Grove we not often enough taped performances, mostly of great traditional artists brought from whence the music was born and bred. Hundreds, from Bill Monroe and Lightning Hopkins to Johnny Cash and Muddy Waters.  The ‘kids’ who soaked in this steady outpouring include Ry Cooder, Bonny Raitt, Taj Mahal, Linda Ronstadt, et al – who themselves have become icons of great art and influence.  Most of the tapes somehow escaped the fires which devoured the club, and I’ve kept them closeted, literally.

Over the years record companies regularly wanted to cherry-pick the best-known, which I’ve resisted, always wanting to have the broadest possible public experience the history, the depth and vast variety of American music and cultures we presented.  Check our artist’s list at www.ashgrovemusic.com. I remain in awe whenever I look at it.

Around one year ago I was introduced to Bill Sagan, of Wolfgang’s Vault. We hit it off on many levels, but especially on his and associates determination to do just what I always wanted, and with the technical expertise and capacity to reach an audience I’d only dreamed about. And so, it is coming to pass. I’m delighted and send my warmest wishes to all that you enjoy the experience much as I  will.


Ed Pearl

Published in: on April 28, 2009 at 10:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Ash Grove Recordings Now Available!

Ash Grove Concerts!

We’ve released our first batch of recordings from the famed Ash Grove venue! These recordings have been meticulously transferred from the original Ash Grove tape vault over the past year, and are now available for download in MP3 and lossless FLAC. We’ve got sets from:

I’ve had the pleasure of listening to all of these recordings over the last few weeks, and they all completely blow me away – the absolute genius of these musicians becomes so apparent as they handle themselves in front of an audience. There’s a lot of classic material, as well as some stuff you’ve never heard from these musicians before. Enough ramblin’ – Head over to Concert Vault and listen to these incredible recordings right now: recordings from the Ash Grove

From The Archive – Reverend Gary Davis

We can talk all about the significance of this on Monday. For now, just take my word that what is on this tape has the power to change your life…

Published in: on April 18, 2009 at 9:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Conversation With Ash Grove Founder Ed Pearl

Back in September Steve Rosenthal and I visited Ed in L.A. for a few days to learn more about his life and the Ash Grove.  We sat in his living room for hours talking about everything from his politically active childhood to the final fire that ultimately closed the club for good.
It was one of those experiences that I know I’ll remember for a long time. Thankfully, we recorded the entire thing and plan to start releasing portions of it on Concert Vault in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this clip of Ed and Steve discussing the Harry Smith Folk Anthology and how it helped shape Ed’s vision for the Ash Grove…

Published in: on April 17, 2009 at 3:17 pm  Comments (1)  
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