Each of the 6 CDs on Before the Big Bang has its own theme. Here’s a first look at what we’ll be presenting on the upcoming reissue.
There’s a big misconception about the recording artists of the earliest days. Because the industry was centered in the Northeast, particularly around New York City, Philadelphia, and parts of New Jersey, the idea has persisted that it was a lot of “elite” artists and musicians making records to suit the tastes of sophisticated urbanites. Only when the industry began scouring the country for “authentic” musical traditions did they find the real America—or so the thinking has been.
Maybe we were trying to bring a little visibility to the project while the sunshine from Ken Burns’ Country Music documentary was still pouring in and spoke too soon. Nonetheless, the scope of Before the Big Bang: Country Music Origins in the Acoustic Era, 1890-1926 has expanded.
If you are new to the “acoustic era” of recording, a word of explanation may be in order. “Acoustic”
does not refer to un-electrified instruments—“unplugged” sessions, if you will—but, rather, to the un-
electrified method of recording.
In the beginning, long before the microphone, there was the horn.
Conventional wisdom on recorded country music traces its origins to the famous Bristol sessions held in July and August 1927, famously dubbed “The Big Bang of Country Music” by author Nolan Porterfield. Bristol gave us the first records by the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, and while there’s no disputing that Bristol put country on the map in the public mind, this narrative overlooks the four decades of recording that happened before Bristol—and any impact that material had on the evolution of country music.