1: The Chicago Mixtape (started in Chicago, early 2011)
2: The Mississippi Records Tape Series (started in Portland, early 2008)
The basic premise of their site is this: the music scene in Chicago has literally dozens of bands that roll through town each week, just in the world of Punk/Rock/Alternative alone. Why not give out free tastes of what's to come ahead of time? Casey Meehan, who started the series, decided to get people psyched about Chicago's upcoming shows by curating a mix each week that's filled with music from the bands that are just about to come to town. You sign up (free) and he sends you a mix with an mp3 track from each of these bands the week before. Free curated music for your ipod, sent to your inbox each week. If you don't like a track, just throw it out, it didn't cost you a dime. This is a super cool service. After you finish reading this post, go to www.chicagomixtape.com and check it out for yourself (I won't give you a hyperlink because I don't want to lose you just yet).
Someone from Detroit needs to get up off their bar stool and copy this idea. We have a great music scene here, not just in the world of punk and garage rock, but hip hop, electronic music, and others as well. The city is a showcase for national and international acts, not to mention the legions of homegrown talent that fill up our bars and clubs every night. You could probably finagle a way to get money out of this, maybe from the venues themselves, or at the very least, score yourself a few dates with the scenesters. The people I know who would be good candidates offhand (Greg Baise, Chris Koltay, Steve Nowara, etc) are all probably too busy making that scene work already to take on a big project like this. But I know there's somebody out there. Someone who goes to all the shows, has good taste, and at least some ability to motivate and get organized. I can't think of anybody myself. But one of YOU, kind readers, probably can. I have faith. Our rock scene needs it!
Mississippi Records Tape Series
Read this from the folks at Very Short List:
"Do you remember mix tapes? The owners of Mississippi Records—a vinyl-and-cassette-only record store located on North Mississippi Avenue in Portland, Oregon—most certainly do: They’ve put together the best mixes we’ve never seen (because you can get them only by visiting the store in person). But a Bay Area record label called Root Strata has digitized dozens of these tapes and distributed them (as free downloads) online. The series starts off with House of Broken Hearts—an hour-long collection of “Early R&B, Doo Wop, Rockabilly & Instrumentals”—and only gets better.
"Other tapes are devoted to early soul music, ’60s rock, funk and hip-hop, various kinds of world music, politically minded jazz, ska and rocksteady, postwar gospel, Quebecois psych-rock, and all sorts of old-timey music (which is Mississippi Records’ sweet spot). You’ll find selections of Lullabies & Dream Songs, and a collection of Classical Music for & by the People; one of the most charming mixes contains Difficult Songs for Children."
Wow. I'm sold. I started downloading some of these mixes, and they are most excellent. Very, very heavy stuff from all types of outsider genres.
The collection actually reminds me of some of the mixes that I've stumbled across in Detroit. I've found some pretty eclectic mixes in the time I've lived here, mostly without really trying. Some are on tapes, some on blogs, some handed out at shows, and others just made for me by friends. From time to time I get my act together and throw one of these up on the blog. I should be more consistent with that, because this music usually is really good, but... well, yeah... sometimes you just fall off your blog for a while.
Anyway, we all know that Detroit has a reputation as a seriously huge music city. Despite economic, political, social, racial, or other hardships in this city, the band has always managed to play on. Perhaps it's because of all this adversity, but that conversation is for another time.
When you walk into a place like People's Records on Woodward, this musical legacy literally surrounds you. From Berry Gordy carving out the sounds of the crossover "hit machine" in the garage of a West Grand Boulevard house, to the heart-wrenching religious numbers pressed in dusty vinyl and stacked neatly in hand-painted shoe boxes. A day spent between the headphones of the listening station is a true lesson in the struggle of this great industrial metropolis, sung in four part-harmonies.
Maybe hearing the Mississippi Records Tape Series selfishly causes me to wish that the caretakers of Detroit's vinyl vaults would curate something similar. I know personally that the collections that flow in and out of shops around town are filthy rich with nuggets. But then again, it's our first sixty-degree day this year, and I ought to get off my ass and stop pointing fingers.
Here's a link to the mixes, see what you think: http://rootstrata.com/rootblog/