Friday, August 22, 2008

New Vinyl Stamp? The News Is Good!!

I talked with my vinyl friend, Gary Freiberg yesterday( and have some exciting news to pass along:

Vinyl Record Day (VRD), Founder Gary J. Freiberg has announced the United States Postal Service has accepted Freiberg's proposal for a full review and consideration by the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee to issue a First Class stamp series commemorating the vinyl record. The advisory Committee is responsible for making stamp subject recommendations to the Postmaster General.

"The intent for the stamp series is to raise awareness that we need to preserve our audio history that is available only on the vinyl record and to educate the public on the importance of preserving individual record collections. The RIAA has estimated only five percent of all recordings have been transferred to compact disc or other digital formats. There are a countless number of recordings that will never be transferred to other formats because it is not economically feasible for record companies to reissue releases that will not have commercial support. What many term are "old records" time has turned into audio historical documents, issuing a stamp series would be a major contribution to heightening the public's awareness of the importance of preserving the audio and visual history of the vinyl record." said Freiberg.

If adopted the series would be issued in 2011. Though final decision has not been made Freiberg is encouraged as the initial positive response from the manager of Stamp Development was made in less than a week. Freiberg will keep me informed when new information is available. In the meanwhile check out and help support vinyl's preservation.

Tim Barry Release

This from my vinyl friend Virgil over at

A while back, I had posted mp3s from Tim’s live performance at Munford Elementary. I mentioned how rad I thought this session was and how I would love to release this as a single. The feedback from all of you was really strong so I asked Tim. Tim was uncertain about putting this out, but in the end, he decided to go for it. The really really cool thing about all of this is that the proceeds from the sale of this record and from the sales of the songs digitally will go to Munford Elementary’s music program. Here is how Tim explains it:

"This recording was never intended to be released. Ms, Kiesler asked me to play for her class and I agreed. Josh Small jumped on board soon after. I asked Dave Watkins to do an audio recording to give to the kids and teacher as a keepsake. A week later I uploaded the songs on my website and the response was impressive. I was offered the opportunity to release the songs and considered it for a couple weeks. My concern was that something as simple and fun as playing for kids could become a commodity. I settled on the fact that music is supposed to be shared, and that’s why I play it. With that said, feel good knowing that every single bit of “profit” from this release will go directly back into the classrooms at Mary Munford Elementary School. Thank you. -Tim Barry"

So this might end up being the only pressing of this record: 300 on White and 700 on brown. There is a test press contest and if you purchase a copy, you will be entered to win. Good luck. And thanks for your help in making this happen. I am so stoked to release this.

Expect copies by Mid September.

Four Blues Musicians Pass Away

The Blues Foundation is reporting the passing of four veteran blues musicians.

Phil Guy, younger brother of Buddy Guy, passed away in Chicago today at the age of 68. He had been battling kidney and liver cancer. Guy spent over a decade playing with harpist Raful Neal before moving to Chicago where he performed with his brother, Junior Wells and Jimmy Dawkins. He also recorded six solo albums for JSP between 1983 and 2000.

Chicago harmonica player Little Arthur Duncan passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 74. Duncan was born in Indianola, MS in 1934 and grew up on the same plantation as B.B. King. He moved to Chicago in the mid-50's, where he became friends with Little Walter and took up the harmonica. While holding down side jobs, he played with the likes of Earl Hooker around the Windy City scene and owned a club where he could showcase his music and the performances of others.

Singer/guitarist Alex "Lil' Bill" Wallace passed away last Sunday in Greenville, MS at the age of 83. Wallace learned modern guitar styles from T-Bone Walker. He would later pass the style on to Little Milton, Smokey Wilson and a young B.B. King who it is said to have convinced to change from gospel to blues music.

Singer/guitarist Hosea Leavy passed away last Monday from liver failure at the age of 80. Leavy cut his musical teeth in Arkansas before moving west in the 60's. His combo was the backing band on his brother Calvin Leavy's 1968 top 40 R&B hit Cummings Prison Farm. This lead to Leavy recording further sides with his brother and as a solo artist and, in 1998, his only solo album, You Gotta Move, was released on Fedora Records.


The Art Behind The Music

An Interview With Classic Rock Art Curator Michael Goldstein of RockPoPGallery

By Robert Benson

Rock and roll has been part of our pop culture for many decades and, so too has pop/rock memorabilia and art associated with it. Many classic album covers were created to not only sell music, but the concepts and images that were often the driving forces behind the music as well.

A business that is keeping this ideal alive is, a site that is dedicated to bringing customers the best selection of limited-edition rock and pop music related art prints, photography and related collectibles on the market today.

I spoke with curator and owner Michael Goldstein of about his business and why it is so important to preserve these pieces of audio history. Let’s learn more about the man behind the scenes: was founded in 2005 in Huntington, NY by Michael, a long-time collector of music related artwork, as Michael explains:

"It was my personal collection (and my display of it in my offices at the TV network I worked at) that got me into the business in the first place.”

And his interest in the art of the music was apparent at an early age, as Michael details:

“My father was a cartoonist/caricaturist and, while I only had 20% of his natural ability, I did a lot of drawing. I’d done a reproduction of one of Roger Dean’s “Flying Machines” on a wall in the basement of the house I grew up in, and that was the first time that I really sat down and took a look at the artistry that went into these covers. Growing up during the heyday of record cover art- from the Beatles to the Rolling Stones, from Iron Butterfly, the Electric Prunes and early Black Sabbath to King Crimson, Yes, Frank Zappa and The Mothers, and the Mouse/Kelly’s works- all of those images ingrained in my psyche. Later on, when I got into cartoon animation and then into TV/Web production, I had a chance to work with some of the illustrators and photographers whose works I’d admired while growing up; and seeing how many of the still ‘had to work for a living’ made me mad/curious as to why these works of art and most of the people who’d made them were, in my opinion, seen as outsiders by the fine art establishment. I had to do something about that. These images were all expressions of the collaboration between musical artists, art directors, illustrators and photographers, and many of these images have certainly survived the ‘test of time’ even better than some of the music they accompanied! The artwork is about emotional connections and different forms of inspirations (sometimes chemical) and I think that is why my visitors enjoy the album art-related Cover Stories I write, as they're all about the art and the artists.”

Not knowing much about fine art, I asked Michael about the specifics of the business, some rather obvious, and some that needed some clarification. Here are some of the questions I was curious about:

What is a print?

“To put it simply, unlike a painting, prints are made by drawing not on paper or canvas, but on a surface such as stone or a metal plate, from which the image can then be printed a number of times,” explained Michael. “The surface is inked, a sheet of paper is then placed over it and the two are run through a press. The total number of prints that are pulled is decided by the artist and the publisher beforehand and this is called an “edition”. Each impression in the edition is signed and numbered (and sometimes embellished otherwise) by the artist. Once the edition is completed, the original plate or stone is either defaced or destroyed so that no more can be made.”

“Original prints are often referred to by the technique that was used to produce them, such as lithography, silk-screening and the newest (and somewhat controversial) method – digital printing (or Giclee’). I explain these techniques in detail on the website.”

I asked Michael, how do I know what I’m buying is an original?

“In almost all circumstances, RockPoPGallery buys its inventory from only one of three sources – either directly from the artist, directly from the artist’s publisher, or at auction from auction companies that can authenticate the “provenance” (the documented history of a work of art from its production to the present) of a work of art,” stated Michael. “While many items come from these sources with complete documentation, this is not the case with all works and so we guarantee originality, based on our knowledge, provenance and the above checks. As an art lover, collector and a gallery owner I would not consider buying or selling a work of art that I am not 100% sure about. Upon request, RockPoPGallery will provide you with a Certificate of Authenticity, which will include a copy of the provenance provided from our sources. You can then go visit the web sites of the artists/publishers, and if the description of the print matches theirs in every detail, then there is a very good chance it is original.”

What determines the market price of a particular print?

"The international art market decides the price, based on the principles of supply and demand, basic economics really," Michael explained. "Original prints may exist in multiples of more than one, which can account for a difference of thousands of dollars between the price of a mass-produced poster, an unsigned 'open edition' print and a signed and numbered limited-edition print. If a certain print is in demand and the supply is no longer there, the price will go up. However, price also very much depends on the condition of the print. Works on paper are extremely delicate and can easily be damaged by mishandling, poor framing, exposure to strong light and, of course, the passage of time. Prints in good condition are more sought after by collectors and therefore their prices are higher. And finally, some prints have been signed by both the artist/photographer and the musical act that the cover was done for, such as the Jimmy Page-signed Led Zeppelin IV prints, the David Bowie-signed Ziggy Stardust prints, and the Tony Iommi-signed Technical Ecstasy prints we sell. I have much more detailed information on the website."

What is the most expensive piece you sell, or conversely, maybe the most interesting item you have owned or sold.

“This really changes day-to-day and expensive is a relative term,” said Michael. “Compare to a Warhol or a Lichtenstein or a Haring- all of whom did record covers- none of my images are expensive. The highest-priced items tend to be the pieces where the editions are nearly sold out- like the Led Zeppelin 4 cover art signed by Jimmy Page, Karl Ferris’ photos for the covers of “Are You Experienced?” and “Electric Ladyland,” Entwistle’s “Who by Numbers”, etc. As far as the most interesting item I have sold, well the one with the most personal story must have been my copy of Roger Dean’s “Magician’s Birthday.” I bought one for my personal collection at a very good price and then was offered a lot of money to sell it, which I did; not knowing how much I really wanted to keep it. To punish myself and to let me look at it everyday, I had a section of it tattooed on my right arm!”

I enjoyed my conversation with Michael and have certainly learned valuable information about the fine art that is available for rock and roll fans. I think what impressed me the most about conversation was Michael’s commitment and passion for what he does, certainly intangible qualities that you cannot place a value on.