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Flea Markets & 78's

Posted by Mark Ralston on Monday, September 21, 2009

A few issues ago the Old Time Herald gave a listing of internet sites that have posted recordings of old 78 RPM records.  I've been having a lot of fun with these....... I filled a little Sony Walkman mp3 player and when I do noisy operations in my workshop I put on the player and a set of earmuffs and travel backwards in time.

Linda and I like to check out flea markets when we travel.  In early September we went to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and probably hit about a dozen or so flea markets and antique co-ops.  While Linda's doing her thing I usually look for 78's and old sheet music.  Until this summer all I had to play them was an old Victrola which, although historically correct, doesn't produce a very good sound, and which does a pretty poor job of playing some of the newer (~1940's) 78's.  This summer I found a Sears portable record player which does a great job of playing 78's.    

I've mostly been picking up interesting-looking 78's and just storing them......well, I did listen to the Fiddling John Carson 78, a couple of Smith's Sacred Singers, and an original recording of "Moving Day" with Bob Roberts, but not many others.  I spent some time last weekend catching up on some of the 78s and had a ball.  Now I've also got a fairly good microphone which does a pretty good job of capturing the sound of the 78s.  Eventually I plan to share them systematically via the internet, either on my website or else on some other site.  In the meanwhile, I've posted a few of the choice recordings on my music page here on the BHO.  I assume that the copyright is expired on the really old, obscure stuff, and I'm not going to post any Bill Monroe, Roy Acuff, etc. until I do some research on copyrights just so that I don't ruffle any feathers.

09-24-09 update  Having spent a couple of days looking up some of my 78's on the internet I'm amazed at how much OT "stuff" there is on the WWW.  I got away from OT music a long time ago, and just came back to it a couple of years ago.  I remember that when I gave away some 78's to a friend who taught at Penn State.......... the FBI hadn't caught the Unabomber yet, and I remember thinking how suspicious it might look for Mike or one of his co-workers to come upon an unexpected,  VERY HEAVY box on a chair in his office.  Oh, well...... I guess recordings of the old music aren't as scarce as when I used to be interested in them........ I still like having pieces of shellac from the 1910's, 1920's, etc.  I also like the crackle & pop of 78's played on a 78 player...... seems like most of the recordings available on the internet have all of the extraneous noise (i.e., color & character) taken out of them.

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