Saturday, May 25, 2013

78 Laments

How many archivists does it take to make a killer afternoon?

One if it's Chris King. The Grammy Award-winning record collector/producer was at my neighborhood record store this afternoon, spinning his rare 78s for the first time in public.

I could tell it was a big deal to lots of people by the array of music geek friends who showed up for it. Steady Sounds' owner Marty introduced Chris, promising that, as DJ, he would talk about each record.

"But not too much," he qualified quickly. "Actually there's gonna be a Power Point presentation. It won't be all that long, maybe four hours."

Joking aside, Chris proceeded to play some amazing 78 records from his wondrous collection. Yes, there was snap, crackle and pops coming from the record players and that was part of the point.

Every song he played had such history and depth to its sound. He started with a song recorded in 1930 in Athens before moving on to a 1929 Cajun song, "To Love and to Lose" from his "Aimer et Perdre" compilation.

Chris' low-key demeanor belied his humor, like when he played a 1939 Turkish tune, drolly noting afterwards that the songwriter "died the next year...of syphilis."

There was a loss.

We heard Greek laments, a genre which Chris had an affinity for (and the source of one of his records), including the only known copy of 1933's "Lament for the Castle." Only known copy, did you read that right?

That was a big part of the appeal of hearing Chris play these songs because I may never get another chance to hear them again. To be fair, several of his compilations records were for sale, as notable for their R. Crumb artwork as for the audio gems on them.

And that was the other cool part of the afternoon; Chris had brought some of the original artwork Crumb had done and it was hanging on the walls for all to see. Favorite compilation title: "Five Days Married and Other Laments."

Me, I was one hour listening and other exaltations. It was a fortuitous ways to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Just don't get me started on five days married.


  1. Thank you for your extraordinarily kind words and for your exceptional commentary.

    My Very Best,

  2. Thank you for a most unique and musical afternoon.