LP/CD release party makes earliest Carl Perkins recordings available to the public for the first time
Eastview, Tennessee--Discovering Carl Perkins, a new LP/CD release by Bear Family Records, is the culmination of 10 years of work by Arts in McNairy’s traditional arts committee to recover the recordings of Stanton Littlejohn of Eastview, Tenn. and educate the public about their significance.
Between 1947 and 1957, Littlejohn amassed an incredible collection of original recordings from his Eastview home. The professionally preserved archive, which has been recognized by the Library of Congress as a national cultural treasure, includes recordings of many regional music legends, including a 19-year-old Carl Perkins. Discovering Carl Perkins marks the first public release of what are believed to be the rockabilly icon’s earliest recordings.
To celebrate this historic occasion, there will be a release party by Arts in McNairy. Shawn Pitts, Arts in McNairy board member and co-producer of Discovering Carl Perkins, will make a short presentation on the history of the Littlejohn recordings. Local favorites, Dawg Creek Band, will be on hand to play live rockabilly music and light refreshments will be provided by the City of Eastview and the Eastview Ruritan Club. A limited number of LP/CD sets will be available for purchase at the event.
The story of Littlejohn’s recording sessions will also be prominently featured on a Tennessee Music Pathways marker being installed in downtown Selmer later this year. McNairy County Tourism and Arts in McNairy collaborated with Tennessee Department of Tourism Development on the Tennessee Music Pathways project which is expected to generate considerable interest among roots music fans and cultural tourists.
“We are excited to share this music and this story with the public,” Pitts said. “We are also eager to see the new marker at Rockabilly Park. Together, these projects bolster McNairy County’s reputation as a hotbed of early rockabilly development and firmly establish Eastview as a site of historic significance.”
The public is invited to the release party on November 14 at 6:00 p.m. at the Eastview Civic Center. More details will be released for a dedication in Selmer for the Tennessee Music Pathways marker. For more information about the Perkins/Littlejohn recordings and release party contact Arts in McNairy’s Managing Director, Sarah Moore, at (731) 645-2671 or [email protected].
Carl Perkins Tracks Hailed as Game Changers for Rock 'n' Roll History
Selmer, Tennessee—In 2009 Arts in McNairy’s cultural heritage committee began the painstaking process of sorting through recordings made by Stanton Littlejohn at his Eastview, Tennessee home between 1947 and 1957. Dozen’s of fragile acetate (lacquer) discs recovered from the families of Mr. Littlejohn and the artists who recorded for him were subsequently digitized with the assistance of the Center for Popular Music at MTSU and the financial backing of the Tennessee Arts Commission’s Folklife Program. Several outstanding programs grew out of the Littlejohn project. A CD release, The Littlejohn Sessions Vol 1, and a short film, Homegrown: Music in McNairy, were well received locally, and the AiM preservation team received recognition by the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress for their efforts.
Now, ten years after the first Littlejohn preservation activities, comes the biggest news to date. Bear Family Records, the legendary German label specializing in recovering and reissuing historically significant American roots music recordings, will release Discovering Carl Perkins in October 2019. Four Littlejohn tracks featuring Perkins will be paired with selections from his unreleased Sun Records material to provide an eyeopening retrospective of the rockabilly icon’s earliest creative leanings. “These recordings confirm what Carl Perkins always said about his music,” said Shawn Pitts, leader of AiM’s original preservation team and coproducer for the Bear Family release. “They clearly demonstrate that he had an electrifying rockabilly sound years before he arrived at Sun Records. He didn’t have to have it coaxed out of him by Sam Phillips, rockabilly came as naturally to Perkins as breathing, and these recordings force us to seriously rethink some music history.”
A limited quantity of the 10 inch LPs which includes unpublished photos and an insert booklet detailing the history of the recordings will be available locally, online at Bear Family Records following the European release October 6, 2019, and on Amazon after November 8, 2019. Contact Bear Family producers Shawn Pitts ([email protected] ) and Hank Davis ([email protected]) for interviews.