We’ve a couple of tickets for next Sunday’s Mississippi Records night in the Sugar Club to for you to win, thanks to our pals at Choice Cuts Mississippi Records is one of those labels that really matters – their output is meaningful, varied, and compelling – and they are as interested in disseminating musical culture, and leaving a trace of those that have gone before, as those that are producing truly interesting work now. Eric Isaacson, (one of the three founders) is the driving force behind the label, which is actually based in Portland, Oregon, and is a subversive, passionate figure, who has been collecting music since he was 7 years old, when he started to make homemade cassette copies of the Beatles catalogue, by taping a weekly show called Breakfast with the Beatles. Growing up in Los Angeles, music always formed part of his narrative, and his obsession began so early, making tapes, and creating artwork for those tapes, that he has quipped that his art has improved so little that there isn’t much of a difference in the record covers he now works on.
Influenced by his older sister, he was exposed to Captain Beefhearts’ Trout Mask Replica when he was 13, as well as The Stooges first album, and speaks about such records providing a kind of awakening in him. The aesthetic and ethos of Mississippi Records is based around these early, “mystical” experiences, describing the actual objects of records and tapes as “magic portals to another world”.
So it is no surprise that he is less than enamoured of listening to music on the internet, or downloading, since he believes in the physical beauty of vinyl and tapes, and was there at the beginning of great reissue labels, and has seen the field grow and grow. He is a true enthusiast, and articulately expresses the continued value and importance of records, viewing them as an integral part of the “spirit of revolutionary art”. He has written that the act of preserving music, and trying to introduce new audiences to it as a “desperate act”, and it is our good fortune that he continues to despair, since that state has brought us over 280 releases, surveying so many gems, from Abner Jay to Theremin virtuoso Clara Rockmore, Philip Cohran & The Artistic Heritage Ensemble, to The Ex, and the label joins the dots between two different musical visions of America, as detailed by folk archivists Alan Lomax, and Harry Smith.
Isaacson is also convinced that 90% of how you appreciate something is the context you experience it in, and 10% the actual content, which makes his imminent return to Dublin this Sunday 19th October even more special – he cares about the communal experience. The new show: ‘A Cosmic and Earthly History of Recorded Music according to Mississippi Records‘ (A film & talk presentation) will be presented by Isaacson, who will focus on outsider musicians, as well as introducing some modern artists affiliated with the label – Marisa Anderson, Lori Goldston, and Dragging An Ox Through Water, who will be performing on the night. It is billed more as a “travelling exhibition”, and something that really resonates is the promise to “give the audience a sense of wonder, that anything is possible, and art is worth doing” – a night not to be missed.