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Anthology Recordings salon on Sunday

January 16, 2009 |  5:32 pm

Anthology Toward the end of the year, when professional and citizen critics alike make our "Best of" lists, the focus is always on new music, new music, new music. In the panicked process of tearing shrink-wrap off things that we should’ve six months ago and swallowing gulps of other people’s recommendations, lots of gems come to the surface and not all of them are new. In fact, some of the best discoveries or reminders I stumbled upon in my fourth-quarter cramming were for old treasures recovered by Jacques Cousteau types deep-diving in the big, blue ocean of bygone tunes.

The first is Dust-to-Digital, a team of rescue artists helmed by Lance Ledbetter out of Atlanta and best known for releasing Art Rosenbaum’s  "Art of Field Recording: Volume I,” which was nominated for two Grammys in 2007. “Art of Field Recording: Volume II” comes out this month, and Dust-to-Digital will be celebrating with a hoedown on Jan. 31. in Athens, Ga.

And then this dropped in my mailbox yesterday: The Numero Group Label, reissue specialists plucking from thrift store soul, skinny tie bop, Belizean funk and hillbilly gospel, to name a handful, will premiere its first live event on April 4 in Chicago, featuring many of the bands from the label's 2006 compilation "Eccentric Soul: Twinight's Lunar Rotation."

But before we L.A. people feel left out of the crate-digging fun, I bring you Anthology Recordings, based in New York, but hosting a Sunday Salon at Palihouse Hotel this weekend with performances from my favorite dance freak Ryan Heffington, art and film from Kelly Sears, Annakim Violette and others, and Dublab's DJ Frosty and Small Town Talk spinning a soundtrack culled from the Anthology Recordings archives.

For the last two years, Keith Abrahamsson, the founder of Anthology Recordings and A&R man for Kemado, has been stock-piling his website with rare and once-lost sounds. Working in the digital realm only, Abrahamsson has heard the complaints about that oft-maligned format, especially to the vinyl purists, but he maintains the importance of his mission.

"We’re not trying to replace or take away the joy of crate-digging, but this is the digital equivalent," he said. "Some people, they look at digital as killing music. I can respect that though I think it’s a little extreme."

Anthology's catalog is currently about 600 records deep and each release comes with careful curating, including photos, liner notes and anything Anthology can dig up or create wholesale, if need be. Now that he's gained a couple more staff members, Abrahamsson will be expanding his catalog with more than 1,000 new titles in the next six months or so, spanning from psychedelia, Afrobeat, folk, free jazz and lots in between, such as a double album from Bobby BeauSoleil, a Manson family associate who's long been in prison for the murder of Gary Hinman.

Not all of Anthology's recordings have such a sordid history, of course. Some are simply back out in the world due to Abrahamsson's diligence, cold-calling skills to long-lost musicians and good contacts with reissue labels (or reissue-sympathetic ones) such as Locust Music, Luaka Bop and Sunbeam Records. It might take a little digging on the website, but just like at the Amoeba bins, something special always comes up.

--Margaret Wappler

Sunday Salons with Anthology Recordings: 7-11 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 18 at the Palihouse Hotel, 8465 Holloway Dr., West Hollywood. RSVP at rsvpla@anthologyrecordings.com

Flyer courtesy Anthology Recordings