Friday, June 7, 2013

US Copyright Law and Sound Recordings

Did you know that there are no sound recordings in the United States that are considered to be in Public Domain? So many people assume that sound recordings work like sheet music and that anything before 1923 is automatically in Public Domain or subject to Fair Use provisions. At this time, it is not. There is a great article by Tim Brooks, "Only in America: The Unique Status of Sound Recordings under U.S. Copyright Law and How It Threatens our Audio Heritage," that gives an overview of US Copyright Law and how it pertains to audio recordings. Essentially, sound recordings are covered by state law, not federal, which is why the subject is so murky and involved.

There are websites that exist, like Free Music Archive, that try to provide Public Domain audio recordings by contacting the copyright owners of the items and obtaining permission from them. Then there are sites like the Internet Archive which are pushing the boundaries of what is public domain and what is not.They have a Live Music Archive that provides recordings of live shows by trade-friendly bands, for non-commercial use by fans. Of course, if the band does a cover, this gets into performance and mechanical rights issues, which then puts the users square into copyright infringement territory. They also archive thousands of historical sound recordings using creative commons licenses.

The biggest issue I see with the Internet Archive is that it puts the burden of copyright responsibility on the site user. Yes, it provides links to copyright information, but does not have a clearly defined page that lays out the information as it pertains to the Internet Archive site for the average user. Copyright law is difficult to understand, even for seasoned researchers, and people are uploading and assigning creative commons licenses to items they do not own or have permission for rights.

Is the current law on copyright for historical or orphan sound recordings fair or realistic? Absolutely not. There have been attempts to amend the current copyright law, most recently in 2011 with H.R. 2933. You can view more on what is being done on the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) webpage for their Copyright and Fair Use Committee, as well as their Latest Copyright Developments news page. There is also a petition you can sign to support releasing historical recordings into Public Domain, which is hosted by *FYI- this last website looks like it hasn't been updated since 2010, however it is suggested by ARSC and may still be active. Regardless, it has several informative studies and links on the subject of historical sound recordings and copyright.

I know this post is link heavy, but the issue is complex and I want to give my readers as much information as possible to understand music copyright and how it affects us all.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Radio Dismuke- 20s & 30s Streaming Music

I haven't posted about vintage music for a while, so here's a quick blurb about an online streaming radio station I discovered a while back called Radio Dismuke. They stream 20s & 30s popular music and I have discovered quite a bit of tunes to use for my hot jazz vocal trio Bootless Betties, that's for sure!

The man who runs it is incredibly knowledgeable about the music and has a discussion forum for 20s & 30s music lovers to communicate and post questions about the music (which he often answers himself). There is also a blog, although it is not updated very often. However, it has a listing of other resources for music of the same era so it is worth a look-see.

I listen to the station through Live365 (I find it is more work friendly). So to save you a step, you can click on the link below to take you directly to the Live365 station. FYI- click on the yellow play button to start the station and there is always a short commercial at the beginning. ENJOY!

For Radio Dismuke, 20s & 30s popular music, click here

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sweet Nothings: Women in Rockabilly Music

Janis Martin, 1956, Age 15
Image courtesy of the WRVA Collection, Library of Virginia

After 6 1/2 years of graduate school and much blood, sweat and tears, my Master's thesis "Sweet nothings: women in rockabilly music: LaVern Baker and Janis Martin" has been published and is available for download (free!) online through my university. It is 99 pages of rockabilly goodness, focusing on LaVern Baker and Janis Martin, of course.

Lewin-Lane, Stephanie P., "Sweet nothings: women in rockabilly music: LaVern Baker and Janis Martin" (2012). Theses and Dissertations. Paper 11.

The most exciting part is that I was granted permission to include transcripts of several interviews with Janis Martin, and her mother Jewel, that have never been available for scholarship. This was through the generosity of documentary filmmakers Beth Harrington (Welcome to the Club) and Elizabeth Blozan (Rebel Beat: The Story of L.A. Rockabilly).

Do yourself a favor and check it out. It's an easy read, if I do say so myself!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rebel Beat: The Story of LA Rockabilly DVD Review


I picked up Rebel Beat: The Story of LA Rockabilly to use as a source for my Master's thesis and quickly fell in love with it! Chock full of interviews and archival material, this documentary not only covers LA rockabilly, but also a history of rockabilly overall, especially after the revival in the 1970s & 80s. The music selection is great and if I wasn't already in love with Big Sandy I would be after watching this film! I also love the inclusion of rockabilly culture and how it has affected new generations, even if just for fashion.

What's on the DVD you may ask? Here's a short blurb from the website that pretty much sums it up:
"Rebel Beat" interviews over 30 promoters (including legendary Rockin' Ronny Weiser of Rollin' Rock Records), musicians (including Glen Glenn, Ray Campi, Big Sandy, Dave Gonzales and Janis Martin), car customizers, DJs and dancers, plus features rare archival photos, vintage TV clips and music montages that highlight the fashion, cars, pomps, ink and dance moves of the pussycats and hound dogs of LA Rockabilly, a strange family who share the distinctly American bent to define reality on their own terms and an LA creativity for casting the past with the hand-picked heroes, making for one hell of a party.

You can go to the website for more in-depth coverage of what is on the DVD and to buy it. At $12 (including shipping) the DVD is a steal. The filmmaker Elizabeth Blozan (Betty B) is passionate about the material and an all-around great gal, so please support her efforts!

As an extra bonus, Betty B has made some outtakes available online. Here is my favorite:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Feelin' Blue? Get a Sunny Disposish!

Hey everyone! I am SO excited to debut my band Bootless Betties' new music video. It is done in a silent film style and is sure put a smile on your face.

Be sure to like it and share it! The song is off our latest album "Good Time Whoopee" which is available online through reverbnation.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Whole Lotta Shakin'- Rockabilly Documentary Series has a great documentary series online, which is hosted by Rosie Flores. The series is called Whole Lotta Shakin' and features one-hour streaming segments on various subjects in Rockabilly music. I find the topics of this series and how they incorporate the songs into a narrative to be a great way to get to know the evolution of Rockabilly, or to familiarize yourself with the genre if you are new to it.

Here is a break-down of the series' topics:

Good Rockin' Tonight
Elvis, Carl Perkins and the rise of Sun Records

Get Rhythm  
The story of Johnny Cash and The Tennessee Two  

Fujiyama Mamas  
The women of rockabilly stake their claim

Rebels with Guitars  
Borrowing from Brando: the music's most notorious rebels

The Cradle of the Stars
The rise and fall of radio's The Louisiana Hayride

Real Wild Child
Swamps, snakes, Whole Lotta Shakin' and the story of Jerry Lee Lewis

Shake This Shack
Cat Music from the Lone Star State: rockabilly in Texas

Rockin' Bones
Suzy Q and rockabilly's one hit wonders

Rave On
The life and music of Buddy Holly 

Summertime Blues
Sunglasses after dark, rockabilly California-style

You can view the song lists for each segment here

(cross-posted to Tart Deco-Vintage Glamour & Retro Style)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Women in Rockabilly

Long time, no post! Sorry for the absence but Grad school and internship are in full swing. It can be hard to set aside time to blog, but I had an idea to try and tie in thesis research by blogging about various women in Rockabilly music, which is my thesis topic. I've touched on a few performers previously (Wanda Jackson, Janis Martin and Lorrie Collins). I am hoping to expand on some of those posts, introduce more singers and talk about some of the social issues they have had to deal with. I also plan to talk about more contemporary singers and who inspired them. Of course, I am going to include sound examples and ways to get your hands on their music.

To start this off, I thought I would include some of my favorite resources about these amazing ladies and Rockabilly music. Most of these sources I have used in my own research. Some are more complete than others, but all have a place in the history of Women in Rockabilly music and I would love to see them circulate more to inspire others to write more about this overlooked topic.

The Women of Rockabilly: Welcome to the Club DVD
Blue Rhythms: Six Lives in Rhythm and Blues
Sexing the Groove: Popular Music and Gender
Girls Rock!: Fifty Years of Women Making Music
Little Miss Dynamite: The Life and Times of Brenda Lee
Memphis Belles - The Women Of Sun Records CD
Rockabilly a Bibliographic Resource Guide
Rockabilly queens: The careers and recordings of Wanda Jackson, Janis Martin, Brenda Lee
She's a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock and Roll
Welcome to the Club-Early Female Rockabilly CD

There are also two theses that are available through interlibrary loan:
Della Rosa, J. L. (2005). Hard rockin' mamas : female rockabilly artists of Rock'n'roll's first generation, 1953-1960.
    This Masters thesis discusses how early female performers in rockabilly music, specifically Janis Martin, Lorrie Collins and Wanda Jackson, were able to defy traditional social roles, yet were not given the ability to stand on equal footing with their male counterparts. The author uses Billboard charts analyses to demonstrate how underrepresented women were in the business at the time and how the media played into social fears of gender roles.

Conor, E. (2006). Women take the stage : Janis Martin, Brenda Lee, and Wanda Jackson.
    This book starts to ask questions of why some female performers could transcend stereotype, yet never achieve the same success their male counterparts did. Includes references in notes for further research beyond the bibliography sources and analyzes lyrics and performances to explore the difference in gender perceptions.

This may be a bit scholarly, however I think it is good to get an overview of some of the more helpful sources out there. If you notice, the list is fairly short. There are more from popular magazines and newspapers, but in general you can see that this topic is sorely lacking in research. Hopefully I can change that!