Q&A: Northern Spy Records' Tom Abbs and Adam Downey On Guitarist Tom Carter, Working At ESP-Disk' And Running Their Own Label

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Peter Gannushkin/downtownmusic.net
Chicago Underground Duo play Roulette on July 15 as part of Spy Music Fest.
This week, the Voice sat down with Northern Spy head-honchos Tom Abbs and Adam Downey to talk about the second installment of the label's Spy Music Festival, which will engulf this city's landscape from Friday through mid-July.

But in typical unselfish fashion, Abbs and Downey weren't in a self-congratulatory mood over their ascendant label, the impending celebration, and the lineup of killer shows. Instead, Abbs and Downey were not only intent on fixing the wrongs they encountered at their former label, ESP-Disk', by paying back decades-old royalties to that label's artists, they were itching for the same rep AUM Fidelity label head Steven Joerg has: to be as completely fair to their artists as possible.

That righteous ethos extends into being there 100% in support of musicians in need like Brooklyn guitarist and N-Spyer Tom Carter, who is facing an uphill battle after falling ill while on tour in Germany. Read on for outtakes that didn't make it into this week's piece.

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Chance Music Radicals, Experimental Feminists, Proto-Drone Pioneers And More: New World Records Invades The Stone

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Eve Belgarian performs at The Stone tonight.
While reading composer Martin Bresnick's long-but-fascinating personal essay last week, I came across the name of an artist whom I'd never heard of previously. Looking up that obscure name (Eric Stokes) on Amazon and ArchivMusic yielded a couple of stray entries—a short piece for saxophone, say, on an album full of different composers' works for saxophone—and just a single disc devoted to Stokes' own compositions. It came as no surprise to find that this lonely CD was issued by New World Records.

Founded in 1975 as a non-profit, New World is the label that, more than perhaps any other entity, has stood between all of America's non-famous composers (i.e., those not named Reich, Glass or Adams) and their absolute, tragic, unjust anonymity at the hands of, well you know... the whole "it takes money to make money" capitalist-acquisitive culture industry deal we have going. This is the label that will keep a CD called Lesbian American Composers in print long after its original label has left this world; they'll bring you news of some real shit from pockets of American culture you didn't even know existed.

Starting tonight and for the next two weeks, New World is taking over programming reins at The Stone, John Zorn's artist-curated space over in Alphabet City. With $10 sets at 8 and 10 each night, it's hard to go very wrong by just blindly stabbing your finger at a date on The Stone's calendar and attending something.

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