It's 11:30pm here in Milwaukee and I've just ended my day here at the 41st ASRC Conference. I suppose other conference-goers are still out sampling the Milwaukee beer, but since I hate beer, I'm in my room, kicking back and checking out all the goodies we've been getting.
It has been a most enjoyable and productive conference so far. The first day was filled with great information, music, and a few laughs as well. We knew that the conference was going to be special when we received our de regeurs tote bags. Over the years we've received different kinds, from canvas bags like you get a health food stores to cheap plastic record store bags. This year's is a beautiful black bag with zippered compartments and a shoulder strap with the ARSC logo (and sponsors as well) on it.
Accomodations are first rate here at the Hilton, an Art Deco building that has been beautifully restored. All conference goers were presented with a coupon for a free CD from Archeophone, documenting REALLY naughty cylinders from the Victorian era - we're not talking double entendre records here, folks, these are indecent recordings from the 1890s (known as pornophony) that I wouldn't let my wife hear, much less my kids. Even David Diehl is blushing...
The conference began with my presentation on vocalist/guitarist Jack Teter, leader of the Jack Teter Trio and a longtime Milwaukee favorite on radio. Teter's daughter Beverly was in attendance and was very moved by the tribute to her father. Following that was Mike Biel's fascinating "pre-history" of the various station identification chimes used by the NBC network, many of which were decidedly different from the familiar G-E-C triad of notes. Bill Klinger showed us a prototype of a new polycarbonate-based archival holder for cylinders, which will be prove to be not only beneficial to the preservation of cylinders, but inexpensive for collectors as well as institutions. Rob Bamberger and Tim Brooks updated us on the current status of the Copyright Wars; in light of the UK's recent rejection of a proposal to extend copyrights on sound recordings in excess of 50 years, this proves encouraging for efforts to change or even revert U.S. copyright laws.
After lunch, the theme was preservation of audio materials in small institutions as well as how the New York Philharmonic archives are handled, the latter courtesy of a film by curator Adrian Cosentini. Finally, a fascinating two-part study on early Irish American music, presented by probably the two most respected scholars on the subject; Mick Moloney and Harry Bradshaw. We heard original recordings by everyone from Nora Bayes and Michael Coleman to the immortal John McCormack and many fabulous traditional Irish instrumental recordings from the 1920s.
After this, everyone bussed over to the Ward Irish Fest Center where we were treated to a sumptuous banquet of local sausages, sauerkraut, and potatoes, while being serenaded by Frogwater, a fiddle and guitar duo playing traditional Irish music. The Ward archive upstairs houses a remarkable collection of Irish and Irish-related material, including Irish sheet music, instruments, 78s, victrolas, jukeboxes, and one of the largest collections of Bing Crosby recordings in one place.
The weather was chilly with light winds blowing, but most of us stayed in the hotel for most of the day. There was too much to do and see! The silent auction is in full swing, with a few 78s but mostly enticing books on display. Kudos to Kurt Nauck, Barry Stapleton, and Ed Ward and the Ward Irish Music Archive for really showing us how to put on a conference! Wish everybody was here. I'm sure there will be other reports trickling in over the next week or so, but those were my two cents.
Origin Jazz Library
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