Husband and wife team Lance and April Ledbetter are protecting the sounds of our past with their highly acclaimed label, Dust-to-Digital. Founded by Lance a little over a decade ago, Dust-to-Digital is home to a growing catalogue of important cultural works from the United States and around the globe. I’ve been viewing their line-up for a few years and am constantly impressed by the amount of material and depth each release includes. The types of recordings they release are unlike most on the market. It’s really audio conservation in its finest form. I was lucky enough to meet them both last fall during our trip to Atlanta, when we both attended the Lonnie Holly show at the High Museum. Afterward, they attended our event with the Gee’s Bend Quilters at Grocery on Home.
The label’s mission has always been the same: to produce high-quality, cultural artifacts, which combine rare, essential recordings with historic images and detailed texts describing the artists and their works.
The combinations of recordings, words, and photographs are so incredible. We’ve never seen a more cohesive approach; Dust-to-Digital may be the closest we’ll get to a time machine in our lifetime.
For those of you unfamiliar with the label’s releases, we think that the perfect starting point is Drop on Down in Florida: Field Recordings of African American Traditional Music 1977–1980.
This two CD set is paired with a striking 224 page hardcover book, and is one of our absolute favorite projects to-date. Dust-to-Digital offers this description:
“Based on four years of fieldwork throughout the state, the Florida Folklife Program released the two-album, 27-track LP “Drop on Down in Florida” in 1981. The album was intended to highlight African American music traditions for a statewide public audience, blues and sacred traditions in particular. In recent years, the Folklife Program sought the opportunity to produce an expanded reissue of the album that would include previously unissued fieldwork recordings and photos. Drawing upon extensive fieldwork materials now housed in the State Archives of Florida, the expanded reissue includes nearly 80 previously unreleased minutes of music on 28 new tracks, plus numerous photos documenting the musicians and communities that perpetuated these traditions.”
This week, Maggie’s spring break gives us the rare chance for a vacation. So, I am taking the road to Florida (as most of us in the south remember from our childhoods). And, we take the opportunity on the Journal to reflect on the modern, and historic, Pan-Handle Style.
Dust-to-Digital is on our playlist. Turn up the volume (and look for us at Goofy Golf).