The music of Southern Arizona touches the lives of listeners across the country and the world. Wavelab Studio's Craig Schumacher attributes the “Tucson Sound” to the dust in the air, at least in part. But it is the colorful characters who feel at home in the desert that make the music scene exceptional.
In 2008, musician and producer Stuart Oliver left a banner 2 year booking career at 4th Avenue's The Hut and relocated to the bohemian old west town of Bisbee, Arizona. Oliver had moved from Hawaii to Tucson in 2005 in search of the muse that inspired Calexico, Greyhound Soul, and Giant Sand. That search led still deeper into the desert. During a 1 year residency co-hosting the Open Mic at Bisbee's historic Stock Exchange, Oliver knew was witnessing the spark of genius, and began to produce and record the must-hear musicians a la Alan Lomax' Field Recordings.
Old Bisbee Records was dreamed up by Oliver and collaborator Dylan Charles. Charged by the music being created among the locals, the label was founded to produce fledgling Southern Arizona musicians and introduce them to greater audiences.
After winning the TAMMIE (Tucson Area Music Award) for Up And Coming Artist of the Year and Best Bluegrass Band, the ubiquitous, Muppet-like Dusty Buskers (also founded by Oliver with Phoenix Michael [Zocalo] in 2007) became the flagship band and jumpstart for the label, releasing the frisky, celtic “Life and Times of....” in December 2008.
A critically acclaimed album by Tucson's beloved sirens Silver Thread Trio followed. While engineering at Signal House Studio in 2007, Oliver was moved to tears when vocalists Gabriel Angelico, Caroline Isaacs, and Laura Kepner-Adney recorded an otherworldly rendition of “Ave Maria”. He vowed to record the trio. After organizing several bookings with the act, they were the first to be invited to the Crystal House and recorded their self-titled LP during Bisbee's Hawaii-like summer. The 100 year old house's 30 foot wooden floors and vaulted ceilings gave the recording it's rustic ambience.
Old Bisbee Records held it's first showcase at the Bisbee Blues Fest, Sept 2008. A corresponding collection of original music by the performing artists was released as Best of Homegrown Vol. 1, a diverse, comprehensive introduction to an array of Southern Arizona acts.
Arizona's colorful underground has since been embellished by releases by up and coming artists Kate Becker And The Zodiacs, Dylan Charles, Pat Gahn, Keith Allen Dennis, Jimmy Carr & The Awkward Moments and the label's elder statesman, storyteller and songster W.D. Arizona Kennedy, the “Rainbow Chaser”.
In April of 2008, the Good Medicine Show & Folk Revival made it's debut under the stars in the remote border town of Arivaca, Arizona. This rolling revue of local artists was created to offer healing to communities through the power of music. The “Snake Oil” is a blend of good vibrations. Songwriter and drum circles, fire-dancing, and making new friends are highlights. The Good Medicine Show & Folk Revival will commence touring in April of 2011, featuring a 6 member supergroup of Bisbee mainstays Dylan Charles & The Border Crossers, Nowhere Man & A Whiskey Girl, and Stuart Oliver & The Desert Angels, with assured regional guests.