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Fonotone Records: Frederick, Maryland (1956-1969)

After spending his early years soaking up the sound of thousands of 78 rpm discs, record collector Joe Bussard decided in 1956 to make some recordings of a few guitar-picking pals in his local National Guard unit.

Five CDs, 160 page book, Postcard set, Record label reproductions, Ledger page reproduction, Nickel-plated bottle opener, Cigar box. 

Little did Bussard know that his hobby would turn into a 14 year odyssey which would result in hundreds of custom-made 78 rpm records to be issued on his own Fonotone label out of his parents’ basement in Frederick, Maryland.

What started as a conversation about Fonotone Records metamorphasized into a five CD retrospective, for which no stone went unturned. Master reel-to-reel tapes, unplayed for decades but still pristine, were remastered; forgotten Kodak slides in old cigar boxes were dusted off and retouched; and musicians of all stripes who had disappeared more than 35 years earlier were tracked down. Their stories, and the story of Fonotone, the very last 78 rpm record label, are told here with words, pictures, and music.

Elvis Costello “I love the things Joe Bussard puts out — he’s preserving a lot of corners of music that are precious.”

John Fahey “The Fonotone company — a pioneer in the folk field. The catalog of this company contains many items of interest to the lover of American folk music.”

Mojo “5 stars out of 5”

Wire “The sound is great and the documentation superb. And that’s not even mentioning the postcards and bottle opener, which are as useful as they are lovely. Why can’t every box set be as thoughtful?”

Grammy® Awards – 2006 Nominated for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package


Click here for tracklist