English poet William Cowper once said, “Variety’s the spice of life, that gives it all its flavor.” If this is true, then the @night_tide_records account on Instagram has more flavor than a Baskin-Robbins franchise. This dude unearths the most bizarre and interesting private press and homemade records that rural Kentucky has to offer, and although his account is still fairly new to IG, it’s definitely one you need to be following if you enjoy outsider music. Let’s see how he does it.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m a journalist, record collector, and operator of “Night Tide Records” on eBay, which specializes in “outsider” records and other rarities. My current location is Lexington, Kentucky - a city known for million dollar horses, the Kentucky Wildcats, and most notably, bourbon.
When did you start collecting records and why?
My first exposure to record collecting was through blogs like Mutant Sounds and Ghostcapital when I was a sophomore in college. Gradually, I started flipping through stacks of records at thrift stores with the faint hope of finding unusual albums in rural Kentucky. Much to my surprise, I started pulling exciting records and the obsession just snowballed from there.
What is your specialty in collecting? (genre, format, etc.)
Experimental electronic and “new age” tapes, rural psych private press, and hillbilly/country bopper 45s.
How many records are in your collection?
I Kind Of Believe It's A Gift: "Field Recordings of Traditional Music From Southcentral Kentucky"(Meriweather, 197?) Beautiful 2Lp (!) comp of field recordings taken from tapes at the Western Kentucky University Folklore, Folklife and Oral History Archive. The selections were "informally recorded" in private residences and communities between 1959 and 1977. Genres span solo performances of fiddle and banjo to spooky church choir ensembles and primitive bluegrass. There are so many great moments on this. Fans of the Dust-to-Digital early Americana comps would love it. #bluegrass #americana #wku #wkufolklore #dustyfingers #kentucky #kentuckyhistory #recordcollection #fiddle #vinyl #traditionalmusic
What are your favorite places to dig?
Aside from thrift stores and antique malls, the dollar bins at Half Price Books yield interesting records on occasion. Nothing beats the feeling when you flip through a stack of garbage to find a long-time want staring you down.
Record stores you recommend
Harvest Records (Asheville, NC)
Atomic Records (Burbank, CA)
Phil’s Music, Books & More (Just south of Cincinnati)
Musique Plastique(Portland, OR)
Carolina Soul(Durham, NC)
Give us your craziest record digging story
Several weeks ago I took a drive up to Morehead, Kentucky with the hope of unearthing some oddball bluegrass LPs or country bopper 45s. I stumbled onto this ramshackle antique mall that had maybe five booths. Most of the wares on display consisted of taxidermy and rebel flag motifs, and there was a live bluegrass band playing in the middle of the place. I only found one box of records, but it yielded a musique concrete comp featuring Bernard Parmegiani, Francois Bayle, and Luc Ferrari compositions and “The Bewitched” LP by avant-garde/microtonal composer Harry Partch on his Gate 5 label. I’m still mystified as to how these records found their way into that box, but it’s precisely because of finds like this that I never turn my nose up to a stack of records—no matter how unpromising they may appear.
What’s the rarest record you’ve ever found?
In terms of rarity combined with the amount of money it would fetch at auction, I would have to say “Street Opera With a Blues Waltz” by The Village Choir on SCM Ringer. It’s a sweet soul/funk record that has sold upwards of $800.
What advice do you have for the next generation of record diggers?
I hesitate to pose myself as a wizened digger since I’ve only been collecting for a few years. Plus, I’m 25 so that probably makes me a de-facto member of the “next generation.” Nevertheless, my advice to anyone involved in record collecting is to avoid getting caught up in the dollar signs attached to records. It’s easy to lose sight of the simple appreciation for music amidst the relentless braggadocio of the record community.
Give us 5 record-centric IG handles we should be following
@driftinglament @arkivetpodcast @crackerbone @rockadelic @lostrpm