Monday, November 29, 2010

The Hemlock Singers - We're On The Move Again

My house is full of LPs, most all of them my girlfriend's. She's the collector, not me. I try never to own more than 3 crates at a time. The exchange rate for in store credit feels like a scam in every record shop in the world. Still, I do it every time. Even if its 6:1, trade-in is a better thrill than cash. So most record purchases I make are in a "fun money" head space. In recent years I've met so many people who are heroic collectors. One really has to dig through every record in the shop and try every possible misspelling for Ebay searches. I'd rather be hit by the bus. My feeling is that records should simply happen to you.

When I lived in Iowa, I still thought I had it in me to maybe become a great record collector. The fundamental difference back then, the real source of possibility, was that I knew next to nothing about anything I found in the stacks in record stores and St. Vinnie's. I was always learning and my taste was largely shaped by accidental finds and loans from friends. In all those days searching I only really scored twice. Once at the Blind Society in Dubuque I found a copy of Maggotron on LP. Another time in Madison, I found Lora Logic's Pedigree Charm for 10 cents.

One record that regularly turned up in my early attempts at digging through the thrifted LPs is what I've posted here. The Hemlock Singers was a folk group from the town of Epworth in rural Dubuque County. The group was on the sunny, vocal chorus end of the folk revival thing. The stuff was pretty clean, but probably no more so than what was typical of that genre and era. Although they were seminarians at Divine Word College, the music wasn't religious. In fact barely any of the guys in the group went on to become RC priests. One of the non-priests eventually became my father, so this should explain why I've zeroed in on this one, basically obscure LP. If your father put out a self-released LP in the town you live in, a trip to the thrift store is bit like being the kid of some classic rock person in a normal record store. My dad's music was permanently in stock.

The design of the label on The Hemlock Singers 2nd LP is really basic. Dad is listed as the artist on the jacket, but I don't think he did the label. It sort of looks like a default design, but perhaps he picked out the colors, in which case, cool color feel Dad!

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