Joe Bussard’s Fonotone Records, In Memoriam: Bob Feldman

10 p.m. to Midnight Host: Steve Winters

This is a two-part program that mixes sorrow with joy. The sorrow is that Bob Feldman, the founder and president of Red House Records of St. Paul, Minnesota, one of the finest folk and roots music record labels in the business, died Jan. 11 at the relatively young age of 56. The joy is that at long last there’s been a generous boxed set reissue of some of the legendary Fonotone Recordings made in Frederick, Maryland from 1956 to 1970 by renowned record collector Joe Bussard.

After discovering the music of Jimmie Rodgers in 1947, Joe Bussard began his record collecting at age 12 in Maryland and he’s been at it to this day as he approaches 70. In addition to being one of the foremost collectors of 78 rpm recordings of America’s vernacular music ranging from the early 1900s to the 1940s, Bussard at age 19 began recording his famed “one microphone, one take” sessions in his parents’ basement and cutting 78 rpm records on his own Fonotone label that he sold for $1 each plus shipping and handling. In addition to recording regional performers, Bussard was the first to record guitarist John Fahey and bluegrass legend John Duffey. Others on the recordings include British guitarist Stefan Grossman, Mike Seeger, Jack Tottle and Bob Coltman.

Likewise, Bob Feldman left his mark on folk and roots music. He restarted the label originally created by Iowa singer-songwriter Greg Brown and built it into one of the most significant modern-day labels that, as the Minneapolis Star Tribune put it, is “a national force in the folk-music movement.” The label’s roster numbers more 190 albums and a large and diverse group of artists from “old folkies” such as Brown, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Bill Staines and U. Utah Phillips to a “new generation” of voices such as John Gorka, David Francey, The Wailin’ Jennys and Chuck Brodsky. Ramblin’ Jack’s “Gold Coast” album was a Grammy winner for Red House. The music for the Feldman portion of the program ran uninterrupted.

  • Artist, "Title", Album, Label

  • Jolly Joe’s Jug Band, “Scattin’ Rag”, Fonotone Records Box, Dust-to-Digital

  • Bill Hoffman & Joe Bussard, “Crazy Arms”, Fonotone Records Box, Dust-to-Digital


  • Blind Thomas (aka John Fahey), “Wanda Russell’s Blues”, “Blind Blues”, “Poor Boy Blues”, Fonotone Records Box, Dust-to-Digital


  • Lucky Chatman’s Ozark Mountain Boys (with John Duffey), “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”, “Put My Little Shoes Away”, “Bluegrass”, Fonotone Records Box, Dust-to-Digital


  • Birmingham Bill (aka Mike Seeger), “Cumberland Gap”, Fonotone Records Box, Dust-to-Digital

  • Kid Future (aka Stefan Grossman), “Kid Future’s Blues”, Fonotone Records Box, Dust-to-Digital

  • Birmingham Bill, “Henpecked Man”, Fonotone Records Box, Dust-to-Digital


  • Bob Coltman & Joe Bussard, “The Death Of John Kennedy”, Fonotone Records Box, Dust-to-Digital

  • Danville Dan (aka Bob Coltman), “Train To Danville”, Fonotone Records Box, Dust-to-Digital

  • Two Black Jacks, “Black Jack Rag”, Fonotone Records Box, Dust-to-Digital


  • Sally Rogers, “We’ll Pass Them On”, We’ll Pass Them On, Red House

  • Bill Staines, “Journey Home”, Journey Home, Red House

  • Bill Staines, “Crossing The River”, Going To The West, Red House

  • Jack Elliott, “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright”, Legends Of Folk, Red House

  • U. Utah Phillips, “Railroading On The Great Divide”, Legends Of Folk, Red House

  • Greg Brown, “Train Carrying Jimmie Rogers Home”, Iowa Waltz, Red House

  • Greg Brown, “Downtown”, 44 & 66, Red House

  • Kate McKenzie, “Age Of Innocence”, House On Fire/Vol. 2, Red House

  • Lucy Kaplansky, “Scorpion”, House On Fire/Vol. 2, Red House

  • Hart-Rouge, “Peine”, House On Fire/Vol. 2, Red House

  • John Gorka, “Let Them In”, House On Fire/Vol. 2, Red House

  • Bill Staines, “Autumn Waltz”, Going To The West, Red House