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Lost & Found Sound
Episode #65: Sam Phillips, Sun Records and the Acoustics of Life

Episode #65: Sam Phillips, Sun Records and the Acoustics of Life

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Recording sound pioneer Sam Phillips — the father of Sun Records, the man who discovered Howlin’ Wolf, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash…, the creator of WHER, The First All Girl Radio Station in the World — talks about his journey, his adventures and “the acoustics of life.” With stories from his son Knox Phillips, his wife Becky, his biographer Peter Guralnick, and one of his first artists, Ike Turner.

Hear recordings from the archive of interviews we did with Sam beginning in 1998—personal stories told by the man himself and his family and friends.

Interest in Sam Phillips is running high right now –not that it was ever running low. There’s a new TV series out and there’s Peter Guralnick’s epic biography “Sam Phillips The Man Who Invented Rock’n’Roll.” And there’s a film in the works based on the book — one of the producers is Mick Jagger and Leonardo DiCaprio is playing Sam. Sam has had a monumental impact on the world of music and sound. And he’s had a monumental impact on The Kitchen Sisters.

Giving Tuesday / So Many Untold Stories to Tell

Giving Tuesday / So Many Untold Stories to Tell

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Dear Friends,

On #GivingTuesday, we’d like to give you a story.

Some fifty years ago, Guy Tyler, an amateur ethnographer from Los Angeles drove out to the Colorado River Indian Reservation in Parker, Arizona with his portable reel-to-reel tape recorder and began recording Emmett Van Fleet, the last of the Mojave Creation Song Singers. Over the course of several years, Tyler spent his weekends and holidays meticulously recording the 525 song cycle that recounts the legend of the creation and origin of the Mojave people. Lost for decades, these recordings became the key for the Mojave to be able to map the boundaries of their tribal lands and fight the building of a nuclear waste site on their sacred sites.

With Standing Rock in our hearts and the events of 2016 on our minds, we are committed now more than ever to telling stories from the margins, stories from voices that might otherwise not be heard.

Listen to “House of Night: The Lost Creation Songs of the Mojave People”

Your support keeps the stories turning. Thank you so much for giving.

Our best,

Davia & Nikki
The Kitchen Sisters

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Fugitive Waves: New Orleans—Cowboys, Indians, Broncos & Boudin

Fugitive Waves: New Orleans—Cowboys, Indians, Broncos & Boudin

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Davia and Mardi Gras Indian

New Orleans stories from The Kitchen Sisters—including the world of unexpected, down home convict cooking at The Angola Prison Rodeo, an event that draws some seventy thousand people annually to this agricultural prison in a remote corner of the state. Tootie Montana, the legendary chief of chiefs of the Mardi Gras Indians tells of the African American Indian tradition of masking and parading. And stories of Tennessee Williams, the classic soul food Two Sisters cafe, the Court of Two Sisters in the French Quarter, and an eloquent ode to the Mint Julep.

Walkin’ Talkin’ Bill Hawkins

Walkin’ Talkin’ Bill Hawkins

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In 1948, Bill Hawkins became Cleveland’s first black disc jockey. He had a jiving, rhyming style. People gathered on the street to watch him broadcast from a glass booth at the front of his record store. His popularity grew rapidly. Over the next decade Hawkins was heard on up to four different stations on the same day. He had plenty of imitators and influenced a whole generation of DJs. Hawkins also had something else – a son he never knew.

William Allen Taylor didn’t find out Hawkins was his father until he graduated from college. The two met once when Taylor was a teenager. At the time, Hawkins never hinted at who he was. And Taylor had no idea that he had met his father. Hawkins died before his son every got to know him.

There are no known tapes of Hawkins. Taylor became an actor and playwright. He lives in San Francisco. But he’s always wished he had a recording of his father’s radio program or even just a snippet of his voice.

Fugitive Waves Episode 34 – The Vietnam Tapes of Michael A. Baronowski

Fugitive Waves Episode 34 – The Vietnam Tapes of Michael A. Baronowski

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Michael Baronowski was a 19-year-old Marine when he landed in Vietnam in 1966. He brought with him a reel-to-reel tape recorder and used it to record audio letters for his family back in Norristown, Pennsylvania. He was killed in action in 1967. Produced by Jay Allison and Christina Egloff as part of Lost & Found Sound.

Twentieth Century Wars on Tape

Twentieth Century Wars on Tape

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The Sullivan Brothers at the U.S. Navy yard, 1942.

In this week’s episode of Fugitive Waves we hear the story The Vietnam Tapes of Michael A. Baronowski from Lost & Found Sound produced by Jay Allison and Christina Egloff.

Here’s another story from Lost & Found Sound, Twentieth Century Wars on Tape, also produced by Jay Allison along with Art Silverman.

Jay was the curator of the Lost & Found Sound “Quest for Sound” phone line. He and his team went through more than 1,500 calls. People called in with snippets of sound or stories – often in recordings that had been kept for decades. Many of the voices on the recordings came from American servicemen. Some recorded messages when far from home. Others told stories long after they returned.

Twentieth Century Wars on Tape features highlights of some of those recordings. One is the only known recording of the five Sullivan brothers of Waterloo, Iowa. All of them were posted to the same navy ship – the USS Juneau – and died when the ship was sunk by a torpedo in 1942. (The tragedy led the armed forces to change policies about posting family members to the same ship.) There is a helicopter pilot in Vietnam corresponding with his family by cassette; testimony from a former prisoner during the Korean War; a Gulf War conversation between two brothers that was interrupted by a missile attack; and a veteran of World War I telling how he survived five days spent trapped in “no man’s land” between the German and Allied lines.

Listen:

Twentieth Century Wars on Tape

Fugitive Waves – WHER: 1000 Beautiful Watts, Part 2

Fugitive Waves – WHER: 1000 Beautiful Watts, Part 2

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WHER-poster

LISTEN: WHER: 1000 Beautiful Watts, Part 2

An all-girl radio station in Memphis—set against the backdrop of the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, Vietnam, and the death of Martin Luther King—the story of WHER continues following the women who pioneered in broadcasting as they head into one of the most dramatic and volatile times in the nation’s history.

Listen to Part 1 here.

Fugitive Waves – WHER: 1000 Beautiful Watts, Part 1

Fugitive Waves – WHER: 1000 Beautiful Watts, Part 1

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When Sam Phillips sold Elvis’ contract in 1955 he used the money to start an all girl radio station in Memphis, TN. Set in a pink, plush studio in the nationss third Holiday Inn, it was a novelty—but not for long. He hired models, beauty queens, actresses, telephone operators. Some were young mothers who just needed a job. WHER was the first radio station to feature women as more than novelties and sidekicks. The WHER girls were broadcasting pioneers. From 1955 into the mid-1970s they ruled the airwaves with style, wit and imagination. “WHER was the embryo of the egg,” said Sam Phillips. “We broke a barrier. There was nothing like it in the world.”