Come Way South to see THE NEW EASTSIDE KINGS and enjoy a local brew and some home-grown music at the Moontower Thursday February 23, 6pm!
The pleasures and perils of running what’s basically a one-man record label are many, but Eddie Stout can sum up the essence of his job in three words:
“Get that sound.”
His Dialtone Records inventory sits stacked in boxes in the garage of his South Austin home; a spare bedroom with a Mac is the label’s office. The label has never paid him a dime.
Nor should he reasonably expect it to. Dialtone is predominantly a blues label, one that traffics largely but by no means exclusively in older African American musicians, a fair number of whom remember fondly playing the chitlin circuit, country roadhouses or East Austin clubs well before integration. It’s a niche within a niche, but Dialtone’s artists are contemporary connections to and sometimes former bandmates of other Texas blues icons such as Lightnin’ Hopkins and Blind Willie Johnson. The tradition of preserving these works goes back at least to the recordings of ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax and the bottomlessly weird record collection of Harry Smith that was released as the “Anthology of American Folk Music.”
“I like to call Eddie Stout the ‘Ambassador of Texas Blues,'” says Roger Gatchet, who’s contributed to Living Blues magazine and written liner notes for a number of Dialtone releases. “His efforts to record and promote Texas blues artists have given us invaluable recordings from musicians who otherwise might not have had their moment in the spotlight. Like most of the folks who run independent blues labels, Stout isn’t out to get rich – he’s doing this for the love of the music and out of respect to the incredible artists on the label. Any history of Texas blues would be incomplete without covering the fine musicians Stout has recorded over the years.”
This is, in other words, the Lord’s work Eddie Stout is doing, and has been doing for more than a decade. He finds the artists, gets them a modest advance, puts together bands and plays bass himself if need be. He works to get his records overseas – because the American market for this stuff is minuscule – and when it’s time for a tour or festival, he’ll help out on passports or on navigating a menu in French. You don’t get money for that kind of labor; you get credit in heaven. -Patrick Beach AMERICAN-STATESMAN