Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New blues label launches in Chicago

The blues capitol of the world has a new blues label.
New Chicago-based blues label SWISSISSIPPI RECORDS will release three CDs on Sept. 21 - Chris Harper's "Four Aces and a Harp" (also featuring Jimmy Burns, John Primer, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith and Bob Stroger), Rob Blaine's "Big Otis Blues" and Peaches Staten's "Live At Legends."

The Swississippi name signifies the international reach and multi-forum approach Zurich, Switzerland native CEO Chris Harper and Chicago-born general manager Dave Katzman are utilizing with the label.

"Even the name suggests what we're about, which is retaining the feel and sensibility of the classic blues sound, but putting fresh things on it," Harper said.

For the new venture, CEO/harmonica player/bandleader Harper teamed with general manager/guitar player/production company owner Dave Katzman. For 20 years, Switzerland native Harper owned and ran the #1 convention display company in Switzerland until he sold the business to pursue his passion for playing blues harmonica.

Chicago-born Katzman's lengthy tenure inside the music business involved everything from artist management to production manager at the original Buddy Guy's Legends to sideman.

Katzman readily acknowledges that starting a new record label goes aganst the grain in terms of conventional thinking regarding 21st century industry practices.

"Yes, there are all kinds of good reasons for not starting a record label, but there's one major one that really influenced both of us," Katzman said. "There are a lot of outstanding traditional blues musicians who aren't being recorded for whatever reasons. I've worked with many of the current blues labels and I know and respect all those people, but it seems the marketplace has reached the point where in many cases companies aren't willing to take chances on artists."
"What we're doing with Swississippi is going out and recording these performers, making sure everything we release is high caliber across the board, and working the albums in all forums and sites," Katman said. We'll be doing retail, digital, using the Internet, emphasizing tours, building audiences at home and abroad, in short using every possible method to build audiences and expand the profile of our acts." 

Read more about the label at its Facebook page.