Smithsonian Folkways Dusts Off Titles With New Technology [NYT via MeFi]. Ooooh yeah baby. That’s the way to do it. Especially if as a label you have a huge backlist and archivists already on the case.

Interestingly, Spencer and I discussed this quite a bit back a couple years ago, when the depth and success of the LOC’s American Memory site became apparent. Spence combed through the digitized field recordings to select the songs that remain the base of the Wretched Bastards’ repertoire (such as Influenza of a couple days ago), wrote up some detailed liner notes that included links to other info about the tunes – as I recall, located elsewhere – and then burned some CDs.

Anyway, I saw that and had visions of Dover Music – you know, like Dover Books, reprints of public domain material repackaged for various purposes – collage, scholarship, so on and so forth.

Smithsonian Folkways has been one of my favorite labels for years now, specifically because of the breadth and strangeness of the music therein. I just love the idea of JIT music delivery for this long work of quixotic idealism.

I also love that the music belongs to you and me, under the terms of Moe Asch’s bequest of the label to the Smithsonian. The majority of WPA’s power projects have been cynically privatized by the bad mens, as I recall. I hope they won’t be dropping by Moe’s ol’ place twirling their moustaches anytime soon. They’ll take to raising the rent, wavin’ papers around, scarin’ the wimminfolks and gents of delicate constitution such as yours truly. Keep a pitchfork handy!