Numero Group: By The Numbers


New Podcast Alert: Dogpatch
May 22, 2017, 1:30 pm
Filed under: Express Rising, Methodology, Uncategorized

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There are precious few Numero Group compilations that don’t incorporate some element from the extensive archives of Dante Carfagna. Whether it’s an entire run of soul singles from an obscure label or valuable data mined during years of microfiching and field work, Dante is one of the first people we call when there is a missing piece to a puzzle we’re trying to assemble. When we hired Jon Kirby in 2011, Dante’s landlord had an empty unit in a building adjacent to Dante’s. With that, Numero’s oldest ally and our newest became neighbors. Lodged against the interstate, amid notable hoods Noble Square and Wicker Park, Carfagna and Kirby’s neighborhood doesn’t have an official name. But older residents—who experienced the area’s dicier times—have always called it the Dogpatch.

We are just as excited as anyone that Carfagna and Kirby have launched Dogpatch—a podcast where they will offer insight and color commentary into their respective collections. Previous episodes explore the mellow micro genre of “easy glide” (to which our forthcoming Seafaring Strangers compilation is devoted), R&B outliers and defiers (akin to those found on the Personal Space comp), unreleased soul (duh), and the world of radio station compilations (to which we paid tribute with WTNG).

You can poke around in the archives at the Dogpatch homepage, or stream/DL/subscribe via iTunes. We’ll be listening right alongside, waiting to see if there’s a new Numero compilation we need to put in motion.

Photo by Josh Wildman—Ashland at Blackhawk, the western boundary of the Dogpatch, mid-’90s. 


The Numero Group Cassette Show (NTS Radio)
June 30, 2016, 1:47 pm
Filed under: Methodology, Playlists, Uncategorized

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For this month’s NTS broadcast, we broke out the boom box and unleashed a whole shoebox of cassette obscurities from our personal collections. Reasoning that cassettes—more than any other singular format—embody a particular aesthetic, we’ve included a gallery of covers to help contextualize the material featured in this set. Rap and new age both experienced booms in the ’80s and therefore represent a large share of the program. However, the cassette allowed weirdos of all persuasions and abilities to circulate their output affordably (see above). Here’s a few favorites:

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Split Image – S/T (1990) ℅ Technical Difficulty Productions, Houston, TX

 

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Semply Fressh Posse – The Adventures of the… (1994) Jah International, Jamestown, NC

 

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V/A – Mountain Valley Music (1990) John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC

 

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Sounds Of Papa New Guinea (unknown) Swinging Axe Productions, Northridge, CA

 

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Stephan Micus – Ocean (1986) Self-Released, Ludwigsburg, Germany

 

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Spring – Funkin’ With The Rhythm and Blues (1995) Sounds of Spring Music, Clemmons, NC

 

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Hill Tribe Music (1992) Disco Cassette Chiangmai, Thailand

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Honey Dipp – Honey Dipp Style (1995) Kam-Rod Records, Fayetteville, NC



Moving Sale Highlights (In No Particular Order)
September 1, 2015, 2:01 pm
Filed under: Methodology | Tags: , , ,

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Surely you heard about the Numero Group wholesale sensation that was sweeping the nation last week? We had a great time in the warehouse, cracking jokes and blasting Grateful Dead bootlegs. We were visited in person by a couple cool customers and contacted by hundreds more via the world wide web. Unless you were aggressively refreshing your browser, you might have missed some of these magical Numero Group Moving Sale moments.

1.) We asked for your Grateful Dead bootlegs and you listened:

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We got lots of awesome emails to folks who seemed willing to part with their tape collections, due in part to mentions by @JamBase and the folks at @SoundOpinions. This in particular was pretty funny.

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Keep ’em coming! We need a miracle EVERYDAY.

2.) Me maybe be incubating a Summer 2055 Numero release (with permission from Merge Records):Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 2.26.53 PM

As is customary, Numero Group A&R Jon Kirby draws crap on whatever packages he happens to see headed to his home state of North Carolina. Being old pals with Merge Records recording artist Stuart McLamb of the Love Language, everything you see above happened organically. Stay tuned for that lovelorn biker psych magnum opus, already in progress.

3.) These tiny twins clapped along to the warehouse music for damn near an hour and it was awesome.

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It was as cute as you might presume.

4.) People made use of the comments field in their order form.

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5.) Most people dug our Compton archives, a few people simply wanted to highlight omissions.

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6.) We kind of goofed on the flyer, and as a result, Monday was one of the biggest days of the sale. Thanks to everyone for helping making our move a little easier!

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Your Orders Are Happening (We Promise)
August 31, 2015, 2:30 pm
Filed under: Methodology, Newsworthy

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First of all, we want to thank EVERYBODY for helping lighten the load here at Numero HQ. We gave you folks an extremely rare opportunity to dig deep into our back catalog for an outrageous rate and most of you, simply put, WENT OFF.

However, our fulfillment center is not the automated robot prison that you might imagine. All orders are hand-picked and hand-packed by our small-but-mighty team of ordinary human beings. There’s gonna be all kinds of flats and corners and padding in these things, so that your records look stunning upon arrival. The outpouring of support/enthusiasm/wallet stuffing was very much appreciated, and we know all of you will be absolutely delighted with your purchases. But, we’re going to need a little time.

Today alone we shipped FIVE pallets of orders. FIVE! We were here over the weekend packing orders. It was fun! You may have already received tracking information, and you are welcome (encouraged!) to use the USPS website to track your package as it begins its journey from our warehouse to your heart. Sometimes the post office doesn’t scan the package in. Sometimes we print postage (automatically generating a tracking number), yet a few days go by before we can get everything boarded up and boxed. This is to say, there are a million various scenarios that can cause some confusion as to how and when you’ll be receiving your order.

We’re trying to stay on top of emails, but we’ve gotten a lot of them. Lots of them say “WHERE ARE MY RECORDS?!” We’re here to tell you, they’re on the way. We promise. We can’t send them all at once, but they will all get sent.

So thank you so much for being a part of our chaos.

Love, The Numero Group

P.S. We intended to run this sale through Sunday at midnight but we were accidentally looking at a calendar from 1980. We have extended the sale until Monday, August 31st at 11:59pm. No excuses!



SEND US YOUR GRATEFUL DEAD TAPES
August 26, 2015, 11:18 am
Filed under: Methodology | Tags: , ,

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Pictured here is our new shipping space, or as it has come to be known, ‘The Dead Zone.’ That is because our trusty shipping duo, Drew Davis and Stephen Arndt, has been playing literally NOTHING but Grateful Dead bootlegs since we arrived. And while the commune still has sufficient musical rations to last through the Winter, it got us to thinking: perhaps YOU have some Grateful Dead tapes we could have? So this is a call to arms, Code Name: BRING OUT YOUR DEAD. Have your Dead tapes become clutter in the digital age? BRING OUT YOUR DEAD! Trying to obscure your transient past from your new family? BRING OUT YOUR DEAD!

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Top Wants:

-ALL Pigpen Era shows (1966-1972), ESPECIALLY examples of the Phil Lesh tune “Cardboard Cowboy.”

-Soundboard tapes are preferred but not mandatory.

-Stephen calls it quits in 1989, while Drew enjoys the Spring Tour of 1990.

-Acoustic Sets

-Overall, “sick-ass J-cards” meaning cassettes that have custom Grateful Dead/fan templates (examples below)

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But really anything is fair game. For questions (or to arrange shipping for larger collections) please contact davis@numerogroup.com. Your good vibes help promote a positive shipping environment for our staff Dead Heads. And for that, we are grateful (pardon pun). Our mailing address: The Dead Zone c/o The Numero Group: 2533 S. Troy St. Chicago, IL 60642

P.S. “Tell them we know about archive.org” -Stephen Arndt



Sounds Good: Peek Inside Peerless Mastering, Boston
July 13, 2015, 2:05 pm
Filed under: Methodology | Tags: , , ,

It would be easier to name the Numero Group releases that Peerless hadn’t mastered than to lay out the sprawling roster of catalog entries they had. As far as transferring, restoration, revitalization, and reverence for original vision, Peerless is unmatched. I passed through Boston recently and decided to pay founding engineer Jeff Lipton a visit. It was late on a Saturday and Jeff was busy, but I felt a few items from my ten-cent Peerless tour deserved to be shared here.

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For instance—would you look at this damn turntable? I should have placed a quarter on top for perspective, but this contraption is HUGE. It might fit on top of a washing machine. That ring, that looks like frosted glass, is about 12 inches in diameter so I’ll let you do the mental calculations. There are two motors and two belts on the left that rotate a governor, keeping the revolutions utterly precise. There is a four-figure stylus on the end of that tone arm which clearly boasts all manners of calibration features. Naturally, the Numero Group prefers to work from tape. But when you have to transfer something from vinyl and you want to make the best possible reproduction, don’t you feel pretty good about this scenario?

Speaking of transfers from vinyl, T.L. Barrett was just such a project. Tapes for the pastor’s Like A Ship… (Without a Sail) LP were long gone, and an unplayed copy of the record was all we had to work from. Jeff selected “Like A Ship,” the lead track from Good God! Born Again Funk, and invited me to sit in the driver’s seat of his massive mastering console. At the mathematically precisely perfect intersection of the left and right channels, we listened to this masterpiece and it kind of blew my brain back. I’ve often known there was a lot of special things happening on this mix, but this provided a new dimension of musical enlightenment. A word to the wise: calibrate your speakers.

P.S. Skippy White’s

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While you’re in Boston, consider stopping by Skippy White’s. This place has been in business since 1961, yet several Bostonians I quizzed had never paid a visit. I found the photo above online—the Roxbury shop looks more like this today [below]. While I was browsing, a customer was quizzing Skippy (who is still there everyday) on dozens of obscure gospel titles, which Skippy could not only sing, but provide color commentary regarding production, instrumentation, improvised outbursts, etc. I’m willing to bet he also has some entertaining stories about New Edition, New Kids On The Block, Maurice Starr, or any other artists who’s manufactured soul music in Boston during the last half century. RECOMMENDED.

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Postcards From The Edge OR Vacation Numero Style
July 6, 2015, 3:40 pm
Filed under: Methodology | Tags:

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Those of us in an Artist and Repertoire role at Numero have a hard time truly disconnecting our mainframes when it comes to utilizing our vacation days. How do you think Belize City Boil Up happened? After decompressing amongst co-workers about all of the Numero-oriented activities I engaged/endured while back home in North Carolina, everyone thought I should write a blog post about it, i.e. what it’s like to try and take a vacation when you you work at 2348 S. Marshall Blvd.

El Guapo Recorders: Winston-Salem, NC

Bits and pieces of this studio will most likely look familiar to blog devotees (here, possibly here). Anytime I’m in town, I take at least one strange piece of local tape to Ryan Pritts, who seems to have relocated from Detroit to Winston-Salem just to make our hometown a better place. Among the decrepit homes he’s rehabbed and businesses he’s helped bring up to code, his studio is an analog wonderland. The preamps are the bomb, the mixing board recorded early Willie Nelson albums, and all of the machines are in top working order. Let’s do some transfers!  IMG_1368

In terms of tape speeds, there is nothing an archivist hates to see quite like “3 3/4 IPS” (second perhaps only to “Ampex 456”). The tape speed of 3 3/4 inches per second is like an AM signal, compared to the more desirable fidelity afforded by 7 (dare I say 15?) IPS. No less, if there’s potentially important material on a tape, you’ve got to drag it across the heads. Slightly more exhilarating was the process of making a new master out of this one-of-a-kind Carolina rock acetate. The temperamental acetate was far too fragile to ship to Peerless Mastering in Boston, so we had to make do with what we had: a brand-new Shure cartridge and a prayer.

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The Carolina Classic: Hoots Beer Company 

There is really no better way to get the latest in hometown record gossip than to coordinate a heavy collector’s DJ debut at a cool new brewery at 7pm on a Monday. Such is the case with the Carolina Classic—an irregularly scheduled DJ night, devoted to getting our state’s most unlikely selectors behind some turntables so we can hear all the records they’ve been hoarding.

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This was the second appearance by Chris Moore (eBay I.D. thewaxman). Chris (right) actually printed out a setlist in advance. Here’s page 1:

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Highlights include lesser known rarities by Carolina institutions, like this catchy number from blind country artist Ronnie Milsap (on trombone!)

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Down East

I made a few stops along Tobacco Road en route to my mom’s house on the coast. When a potential client claims “three boxes of tapes,” we must temper our expectations. For every success story a la Boddie or Revival, there is a mess of DAT that has been stored outside in the unforgiving Carolina sun for a few too many summers.

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At an undisclosed location, rare and common singles mingle along the rafters of a nearly defunct live room.

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Oh, and I did I mention there’s a dozen boxes of 2-inch tape at my dad’s house? He’s been quite patient.

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In any event, some of what you see above may one day become a Numero release. Some of the stuff might just go in the Numerican Pickers blooper reel. But if anyone from The Discover Channel-Canada is thinking about producing an episode of “How It’s Made” on Numero Group compilations, here is your story board.