In partnership with the Southern Folklife Collection, we share a glimpse of a Lousiana-based record company that recorded artists ranging from young Dolly Parton to the greats of the Cajun sound.
UNC University Libraries’ Southern Folklife Collection (SFC) is an archival resource dedicated to collecting, preserving, and disseminating traditional and vernacular music, art, and culture related to the American South.
The SFC is one of the nation’s foremost archival resources for the study of American folk music and popular culture. Its holdings extensively document all forms of southern musical and oral traditions across the entire spectrum of individual and community expressive arts, as well as mainstream media production.
In 2017, the Southern Folklife Collection entered into a partnership with Hillsborough, NC–based independent record label Yep Roc Records to release a series of commercial recordings from the collection. Our first two records are from the SFC’s Goldband Recording Corporation Collection.
Goldband Records was a small independent record label based in Lake Charles, LA, started by Eddie Shuler in 1944. The label specialized in regional music styles, including Cajun, zydeco, blues, rockabilly, and swamp pop. Eddie Shuler and the Goldband Recording Company helped document–and create–some of the South’s most important and distinctive musical styles and sounds, ranging from country music legend Dolly Parton, to Cajun accordion master Iry LeJune, to others like Freddie Fender, Boozoo Chavis, Guitar Jr., Katie Webster, and Cookie and the Cupcakes.
The Southern Folklife Collection acquired the archives of Goldband Records in the early 1990s. Many of the recordings were moldy and required extensive cleaning before they could be digitized for preservation and access. Through a series of grants from the Grammy Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Goldband masters were cleaned and digitized, preserving the content and making the recordings accessible for research. The tapes, which were nearing the end of their lifespan, required thousands of hours cleaning and repairing broken splices by hand.
Yep Roc Records’s first Southern Folklife Collection release, on Record Store Day in March 2017, was a limited-edition reissue of Dolly Parton’s first 45rpm vinyl single “Puppy Love” b/w “Girl Left Alone,” which she recorded for Goldband Records in 1959 at the age of 13. The record features a promotional photo of thirteen-year-old Dolly and a newly restored and remastered original mono mix.
Our next release will be a reissue of Goldband’s 1979 compilation album Swampland Jewels, which features classic early Cajun and zydeco recordings of Boozoo Chavis, Jo-El Sonnier, Cleveland Crochet, and many others. The record will be released September 22, 2017, with a record-release event to follow October 1 at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro, NC.
More record releases from the Southern Folklife Collection are scheduled for 2018, including previously unreleased live recordings of Doc Watson and The Bluegrass Champs, a high-powered virtuosic teenage band featuring members of the Stoneman Family.