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Canary Anniversary Sampler: Ottoman​-​American Recordings Since TWSP, Sept. 1912 to April 1932

by Canary Records



"Folk song may be recognized in the discourse of a culture simply because it is more redundant at more levels than any other form of utterance."
-Alan Lomax, Folk Song Style and Culture (American Association for the Advancement of Science), 1968

"This is no longer a song, no human
hum. It can be heard reaching
as a last cry, in the depths of night,
of someone who has died."
-Kostas Karyotakis (b. 1896; d. 1920). Translated by Haris Stavrakis

This two-and-a-quarter hour album collects performances from 16 Canary digital albums of material that might have been included on the 3CD set To What Strange Place: The Music of the Ottoman-American Diaspora, 1916-29 (Tompkins Square Records, 2011), had they been available at the time, as well as 5 more tracks that didn't fit on any of those digital albums.

This collection functions as both a "Greatest Hits" drawn from that particular cross-section of the roughly 50 new digital-only albums that Canary has released since joining bandcamp seven years ago as well as being an extension of the ongoing work that that was undertaken 15 years ago and first resulted in To What Strange Place a decade ago.

One of the great things that bandcamp has offered is enormous malleability in presenting projects, allowing me to present in-progress research and audio restoration in real time. I have released albums as they seemed to function on their own as a narrative, but I have also relentlessly added to and reconfigured them, sometimes breaking them apart and creating new albums from existing ones when when new stuff became available and it felt right. This process is likely to continue. An older fella once told me, "Getting obsessed is the easy part. The trick is to get obsessed and STAY obsessed."

I have thought constantly about the thousands of people who have supported my work by purchasing downloads and the hundreds who listen every day. It's great that I can make the material available to everyone and there's a platform to tell the stories to the best of my ability and that roughly one in every thousand listens results in someone buying an album. It's the support of listeners that makes it possible for the hundreds of hours of music and thousands of words of notes to be freely available to anyone with internet access and the inclination to look into the subject(s).

This is the second sampler album Canary has released drawn primarily from previously-released material. Being pathologically avderset to boredom, and I avoid the redundancy that is part and parcel of cultural work, particularly online, I do recognize the value of recontextualisation and reconfiguration of component parts of music that assist in the creative act of listening.

I have said over and over that the underlying foundation of Canary is the belief that music is good. It is a branch of the best part of human beings, and the attention we pay to it - any act of participating in it - connects us to the source of creative action from which we came and of which we are a part and which is, in that sense, the "meaning of life." There are laughter and singing at the bottom of the world.

Although for expediency's sake, the biographical texts that have been central to the project of Canary Records are not included for this album, that information, or something similar, for the majority of these performances here can be found in the notes to each of the albums from which the tracks were drawn. Listeners can find those sources in the credits to this album (below).


released August 31, 2021

Transfers, restoration, and notes by Ian Nagoski

cover photo: by Marjorie Collins (b. 1912; d. 1985) under the WPA, taken December, 1942 the Oriental Restaurant at 160 Allen St in the Lower East Side of Manhattan owned by Joe Levy. At left is oudist Louis Matalon (oudist on track 4, more than 16 years earlier); at right is singer Evelyn Maroon. Via the Library of Congress photo archive.

All tracks recorded in New York City except:
(likely) 11, 13, 19, 22, 25, 29 in West Hoboken (now Union City), NJ
37 in Camden NJ
38, 39 in Chicago

Source albums:
-tracks 3, 15, 26 35, 36, 38, 39, 41, 42 previously unreissued by Canary Records
-tracks 1, 16, 17, 18 from Send Me the Bones: From the Earliest Syrian-American Recordings, July 1913 - June 1919
-tracks 2, 8, 9, 14, 29, 30 from If I Were a Nightingale: Turkish & Armenian Language Recordings in NYC, Dec. 1916 - June 1921
-tracks 4, 5, 15, 27, 39 from Why I Came to America: More Folk Music of the Ottoman-American Diaspora, ca. 1917-47
-track 6 from The Water Runs Uphill: Greek Folk Music in NYC, 1921-25
-track 7 from When I See You: Dec. 1916 - Nov. 1917
-tracks 8, 23 from And Two Partridges II: From the Earliest Turkish, Armenian & Kurdish Language Recordings in America, September 1915 - May 1916
-track 10 from You Hurt My Feelings: Ottoman Folk Music in NYC, October 1919 - May 1921
-tracks 11, 24, 25, 28 Oh My Soul: Armenian and Turkish Language Music from the Parsekian Label in New Jersey ca. 1923-26
-tracks 12, 20 from What Makes You Happy: Greek Music in New York, December 1918 - January 1929
-tracks 13, 19, 22 from A Diamond Ring: Armenian-American Independent Releases ca. 1922-26
-track 21 from I Am Servant of Your Voice: March 1917 - June 1918
-tracks 30, 31, 32 from Very Sweet: Armenian-American Independent Recordings from the Pharos Label ca. 1926-29
-track 33 from And Two Partrigdes: From the Earliest Commercial Turkish-Language American Recordings, 1912
-track 34 from Everyone is Looking at the Sun: Her Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, 1926-28
-track 37 from Why Don't You Tell Us the Pain You Have: Greek-American Songs, 1928 - ca. 1948
-track 43 from A Better Cure: A Brief History of the Okeh Laughing Record & Its Progeny, 1904-1946

Impossible without my family, especially my wife, siblings , mother Marcie, daughter, and the mothers of my kids.
Profound and timely support over the past 10 years from the Kindle Project, Rich Pell, Aaron Khandros, Leo Sarkisian, Gary Lind-Sinanian, Christine Galaby, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, and Josh Rosenthal who released and supported To What Strange Place.
Consistent research and assistance given selflessly by Harry Kezelian, Harout Arakelian, Joe Graziosi, Aydin Chaloupka, and scores of others.
Thank you to everyone who has supported Canary through downloads, particularly the 224 people to date who have bought the discography (who ultimately made it possible for everyone else), and those who supported the (still) forthcoming follow-up to TWSP, Don't Let Me Be Lost to You, and everyone who brought me out on tour, especially Lee Etherington at Tusk Music, or booked me to speak. Yall know who you are. Thank you so much.


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early 20th century masterpieces (mostly) in languages other than English.

An hour in clamor and a quarter in rheum.

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