First Ever Release of Music Recorded Live at the Landmark 1969 Event Presented as Two Individual 180g Vinyl 2LP Volumes Restored from Long Lost 1⁄4" Tape Field Recordings for 50th Anniversary!
Third Man Records presents Ann Arbor Blues Festival 1969, a 50th anniversary celebration collecting 24 previously unheard songs by such blues legends as Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, James Cotton, Son House, Magic Sam, T-Bone Walker, Junior Wells, Big Mama Thornton, Clifton Chenier, Son House, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Lightnin' Hopkins, Pinetop Perkins, J. B. Hutto & His Hawks, Roosevelt Sykes, Luther Allison, Otis Rush, Big Joe Williams, Charlie Musselwhite and more. The first ever release of music recorded live at the landmark event, Ann Arbor Blues Festival 1969 will be available in two individual 2LP volumes, exclusively on 180 gram vinyl.
August 1969 might have seen another musical gathering grabbing the world's attention, but the Ann Arbor Blues Festival has since proven a cultural milestone in its own unique right – the first American festival devoted solely to blues music. Held August 1-3, 1969 at Fuller Flatlands, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, for three days it was not unusual to find scenes like B.B. King playing his forthcoming single for Mississippi Fred McDowell, Big Mama Thornton and Junior Wells or Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and Big Joe Williams catching up about grandchildren, life on the road and the recent moon landing. The family reunion backstage led to an all-star game onstage as an audience of eager young blues converts was treated to a living history of the blues from some of its inventors, innovators and greatest talents.
The historic gathering was presented by a small group of blues-obsessed University of Michigan students determined to give their blues heroes a public spotlight where they might shine before it was too late. Among those enterprising student-promoters was John Fishel, whose teenage brother Jim Fishel, gathered some friends to help record the festival as a personal memento. Taking advantage of their all-access pass and juggling a small Norelco tape recorder from set to set, the friends let the 1⁄4" tape roll. Though field recordings in the literal sense of the term, they capture the brilliance of the musicians, the excitement of the crowd and the loose, convivial nature of the entire festival. Those tapes, long thought to be lost, have now been lovingly restored to capture the electric energy of the landmark concert.
"Across three days in early August 1969, [the Ann Arbor Blues Festival] exposed the work of black blues musicians to a reverential young white audience (many of whom had probably chosen to attend Ann Arbor over Woodstock, which took place two weeks later)," writes Fishel, Abramowitz and Beal in the album's liner notes. "From the city to the country, the West Coast to the Gulf Coast, Mississippi to Chicago, 24 masters of the idiom were booked to perform for this new audience – an estimated 10,000-plus kids, listening to the artists they saw as vanguards of the music that had dominated the decade's counterculture. DownBeat magazine concluded, ‘The Ann Arbor Blues Festival did not make headlines. Yet it was without a doubt the festival of the year, if not the decade.'"
Both volumes include never-before-seen photographs, artist biographies, an exclusive reminiscence from Jim Fishel, and extensive liner notes by Parker Fishel, Sophie Abramowitz and David Beal.