It has been ten years since the first copies of Goodbye, Babylon made their way into record shops around the world. Four and a half years in the making, our inaugural set represents so much of what Dust-to-Digital has become: an access point to obscure, lost and hidden music. We want to take this opportunity to look back at a few of the stories behind the release that launched us on our way. Dust-to-Digital is a very special label that we have covered many times on Cybergrass. Their collections of rare recordings, brought back to life, cover a variety of musical topics and they all are interesting and worth consideration.
Leading up to the release date in late 2003, several important people got involved to help us spread the word of the ensuing six CDs of gospel music in a cedar box. Chris Morris mentioned Goodbye, Babylon that summer in his Indies column for Billboard Magazine and encouraged distributors to contact us (by publishing our home phone number!). Another early supporter came by way of the radio when famed BBC Disc Jockey, John Peel began playing a sampler CD that we sent him in the spring of 2003. Less than a month before the release date, we received a postcard from Peel giving us his vote of confidence (and explaining how he wasn't just trying to score a free copy of the set).
Since the release of Goodbye, Babylon, we have been fortunate to become acquainted with several musicians on the set (Betty Johnson, Charlie Louvin and Wade Mainer), and, more often is the case, the descendants of artists (Carter Family, Elder Curry, Brother Claude Ely and Rev. A. W. Nix). Very recently, a connection was made with a daughter of the preacher who wrote and sang the song that gave the set its name: Rev. T. T. Rose. Jerry Zolten, a professor at Penn State University, was kind enough to share his findings on our blog, and we have been in touch with Dorothy to let her know how many people have come to appreciate her father's music.
The release party for Goodbye, Babylon was held in December 2003 at Eyedrum in Atlanta. Matt Kinman and His Old Time Serenaders performed beautifully for over an hour. Kinman, who has recently made a foray into television, thought it was a good idea to put a bottle of moonshine and a tip jar near the stage because "these city slickers will have the jar overflowing." He was right -- and the night was a big success.
Accompanying Matt Kinman's band that night was an incredible musician and a close friend of ours, Kenneth Johnson. Earlier this year, Kenneth and his wife Elena became parents to a son named Riley, who was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Kenneth and Elena have made their story public to spread awareness about SMA, and a website has been set up to help relieve them of some of the financial burden of Riley's treatments. Please keep their family in your thoughts.
Recent articles on collections featured on Cybergrass include Never a Pal Like Mother and John Fahey - Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You (The Fonotone Years 1958-1965).