"Georgia Blues," Ethel Waters

I'm ashamed to say that I didn't know very much about Ethel Waters or Black Swan, the record label that launched her career, but a recent episode of Radiolab (see below) sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole. Unlike the horn-heavy trad jazz arrangements on many of her early recordings, this 1929 version on Columbia features her voice as the highlight, backed only by a piano, and provides the listener with a tour of the wide range of vocal expression that made her unique, from honeyed sweetness to low-down grit, and from sarcastic sass to downright pain. And the way she delivers that line about getting on "that James Crow car" is downright chilling.


"The Vanishing of Harry Pace: The Rise and Fall of Black Swan," Radiolab

There are six episodes in Radiolab's "The Vanishing of Harry Pace" miniseries, but if you only listen to one, make it the first one. It's an amazing story about the rise of the first Black-owned record label in the U.S. and the "race music" industry it created, only to find its artists poached by richer, white-owned labels when they realized there was a buck to be made from previously ignored audiences, all inextricably bound to the story of its unbelievably talented, ambitious—and, it turns out, tragic—founder. 


The Long Farewells (with Rachael Sage) - Uncommon Ground, 10/14; The Long Farewells - Montrose Saloon, 10/21

Just a reminder: The Long Farewells have a couple of shows coming up! So, Chicagoans, start planning now: October 14 we'll be opening for NYC singer-songwriter Rachael Sage at Uncommon Ground in Lakeview. I'm told she sold out that venue last time she was there, so you probably want to get your tickets soon. If you miss us there, we'll also be playing the following week (10/21) at our old haunt, the Montrose Saloon. Keep an eye on the Saloon's Facebook page for details.
Rough Mix is a newsletter about all things audio curated by Aaron Rester and brought to you by Beartrap Spring Records. Every other week, I highlight great music, articles, podcasts and more that I think are worth sharing and spending some time with. Have a suggestion for something to share? Email, or connect with Beartrap Spring on YoutubeFacebook or Twitter. Music highlighted in these emails is available on our Spotify playlist.
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Mary Jane's Last Dance by Aaron Rester
by Aaron Rester (2021)

Tom Petty's 1993 classic, reimagined for the 21st century.  Available on Youtube, Spotify, Apple Music, Bandcamp, Amazon, and on just about every streaming service around.

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