Paul folk label Red House Records sold to a Nashville company
The imprint that houses John Gorka and Charlie
Parr will live on, but the St. Paul offices will close after nearly
By Chris Riemenschneider Star Tribune November
On this photo from April 10, 2001:
Red House Records President Bob Feldman displays a CD tribute as musician
John Gorka, left, looks on at the Red House Records offices in St. Paul,
Minn. Red House Records has been sold to Compass Records Group of Nashville.
The sale was announced Tuesday. (Dawn Villella, File/Associated Press)
One of the longest-running
and most widely known record labels in the Twin Cities, roots/folk imprint
Red House Records has been sold to a kindred Nashville company and will
shut down its offices in St. Paul.
Grammy-winning independent outlet, founded in 1983 by the late Bob Feldman,
has been bought up by Compass Records Group, an eclectic company that
counts the Proclaimers, Colin Hay, Bobby Long, A.J. Croce and Shannon
McNally among its stable of acts.
not clear what will happen to the employees who work for Red House,
but a statement said the Minnesota musicians affiliated with the label
will stay on under the Red House banner as part of the Compass roster,
including John Gorka, the Cactus Blossoms, Charlie Parr, the Pines and
founders of Compass, producer Garry West and musician Alison Brown,
were mentored by Feldman when they started up their label in 1996.
friendship with the Red House guru apparently eased the hard conclusion
made by his widow, Beth Friend, who has kept the label going with help
from some dedicated staffers after her husband's death in 2006. "This
was a very personal and very difficult decision for me to make," Friend
said in a statement, declining interview requests. "It's simply time
for me to bring this chapter of my life to a close and move on."
vinyl sales have been a modest boon to some independent record labels,
Red House relied more on CD sales, which are in decline, and streaming
and downloading services, which notoriously pay a lot less to labels
and artists than the recording industry models of old.
harsh reality of it is there's a lot of consolidation going on in this
business right now," said Compass co-founder West, who did not sugar-coat
the likelihood of layoffs among the half-dozen or so St. Paul employees
but nonetheless pledged to "maintain the legacy that Bob created."
are very mindful of Red House being a St. Paul/Minneapolis-centric operation,
and we will do our best to integrate its own unique identity into our
business operations here," West added. One of the company's best-known
artists, Gorka, told Billboard magazine he believes Red House "will
continue to be a great label."
understand the economics, and I think Compass is the best place to go,"
said the veteran folk tunesmith, who has a new album due for release
next year. "Compass has a lot of artists I admire and respect, and I
think Red House will be in good company."
is one of the longest-tenured artists at Red House, which started out
with Iowa folk hero Greg Brown as its flagship artist and grew to include
the likes of Lucy Kaplansky, the Wailin' Jennys, Loudon Wainwright III,
husband/wife duo Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams and a lot more acts
frequently heard for decades on its hometown radio show "A Prairie Home
Companion." The 1995 album "South Coast" by Ramblin' Jack Elliott won
the label a Grammy Award for best traditional folk album.
start to finish, Red House remained a great resource for Twin Cities
musicians, lending a home to Bob Dylan's old cronies Spider John Koerner,
Dave Ray, Tony Glover and Willie Murphy along with such virtuosic acoustic
acts as Peter Ostroushko and Dean Magraw. In recent years, the label
fostered the currently budding careers of younger newcomers the Cactus
Blossoms, the Pines, Chastity Brown and Actual Wolf.
House has been so good to me," said Parr, who just dropped his latest
Red House album, "Dog," in September. "I've felt extremely supported
and grateful for the opportunity to work with them. It was really nice
having a local record label with such an amazing reputation.
While that local connection will likely dwindle, Friend still sounded
optimistic of the label's future. "I know [Compass] will bring a level
of care to the Red House imprint that I don't believe I could have found
in another buyer," she said.
Records Group Acquires Red House Records
11/7/2017 by Isaac Weeks
(Courtesy of Compass Records)
to gain ground in the roots-music marketplace, Compass
Records Group is acquiring Red House Records, the label
group tells Billboard.
Compass Records has built a name for itself in recent
years through its eclectic roster of talent, ranging from
Colin Hay (Men at Work) to bluegrass luminary Bobby Osbourne.
Red House, meanwhile, became synonymous with folk and
Americana music with a steady stream of iconic releases
during its 34 year history. In recent years it has been
best known for helping launch Larry Campbell and Teresa
Williams' careers as a duo , as well as fostering the
next generation of roots talent in The Wailin' Jennys
and The Cactus Blossoms.
in 1994 by musician Alison Brown and producer Garry West,
Compass sought the advice and guidance of Red House’s
late Bob Feldman as the label became larger over time.
First meeting at a conference in 1995, the trio found
friendship and sounding boards amongst each other. "Bob
was always the most straightforward and would tell it
like it was,” says West. “I have to admit it gave me a
great feeling of accomplishment when, over time, Bob started
calling me to compare notes."
incredibly meaningful for us to be able to carry Red House's
legacy into the future," says Brown. "We are really excited
to work with such a fine roster of artists and are committed
to keeping Red House's brand of folk and Americana music
sale comes on the heels of Feldman's death in 2006, which
saw his widow Beth Friend take over operations of the
label in his stead. Current plans call for Red House Records
to be completely integrated into Compass Records Group's
offices in Nashville, but at press time there was still
no word on which Red House employees (if any) would be
joining the Compass team.
John Gorka, whose next album is scheduled for release
in the first quarter of 2018 on Red House Records, told
Billboard: "I hope Red House will continue to be a great
label, and I'll miss the people there. I understand the
economics and I think Compass is the best place to go.
Compass has a lot of artists I admire and respect, and
I think Red House will be in good company.”
in 1983, Red House has received indie music awards, numerous
GRAMMY nominations and a GRAMMY award for Ramblin’ Jack
Elliot’s album, South Coast, in 1995.
Records has over 600 titles in its catalog. Compass’ latest
signings include NYC indie darling Elizabeth Ziman (Elizabeth
and the Catapult) and rising bluegrass/Americana star
Molly Tuttle. The Compass Records Group is also home to
two seminal Irish catalogs, Green Linnet and Mulligan
Records, both acquired in the mid-2000s.
St. Paul’s Red House Records sold
to Nashville label, local office will close
By Ross Raihala | | Pioneer
Press PUBLISHED: November 7, 2017
St. Paul folk label Red House
Records has been sold to the Nashville-based Compass
reported the acquisition Tuesday, with plans calling
for the label to be completely integrated into Compass’
Nashville operations. There was no word late Tuesday
which, if any, Red House employees would move with the
label. Red House’s office on West Lynnhurst Avenue will
close its doors.
a statement, Red House CEO and president Beth Friend said:
“This was a very personal and very difficult decision
for me to make. It’s simply time for me to bring this
chapter of my life to a close and move on."
singer/songwriter Greg Brown founded Red House Records
in 1980 as a small “living-room label” on which he issued
his own music. Bob Feldman discovered the artist after
Brown moved to St. Paul to work as a writer and performer
for “A Prairie Home Companion.”
a 1995 interview with the Pioneer Press, Feldman recalled
his proposal to Brown that Feldman take over Red House:
“Greg had made two records, but they were both out of
print. I’d heard them and thought other people really
should hear this stuff. His reaction was sort of, ‘Who
are you?’ ”
eventually agreed and Feldman turned Red House into one
of the country’s leading folk music labels. After Feldman’s
unexpected death in January 2006, his longtime colleague
Eric Peltoniemi stepped in to continue the tradition.
Peltoniemi retired last year, leaving leadership in the
hands of Friend, the label’s owner and Feldman’s widow.
a 2013 interview with the Pioneer Press, Peltoniemi described
the label’s aesthetic as such: “We started out as a singer/songwriter
label, but if you go back into those early years, we had
some jazz and some world music, too. Bob’s great love
was words. Words interacting with music. That, and a genuine,
authentic voice in the music. I don’t just mean the singing
voice, but the writing voice. We really like great songwriting.
I’ve been trying to expand into other genres, while still
maintaining that authentic voice, without destroying our
Gorka, Robin and Linda Williams, Eliza Gilkyson and Lucy
Kaplansky are among the many acts that have released albums
on Red House Records. More recently, the label has signed
regional musicians like Chastity Brown, Actual Wolf, the
Cactus Blossoms and Charlie Parr.
Garry West and Alison Brown founded Compass Records in
1995 and often turned to Feldman for advice. “Bob was
always the most straightforward and would tell it like
it was,” West said in a news release. “His support was
immeasurable and we were extremely grateful for his willingness
to take us under his wing. I have to admit it gave me
a great feeling of accomplishment when, over time, Bob
started calling me to compare notes.”
said Feldman considered West and Alison Brown his friends
who “have often commented on how his mentorship helped
them in the early days of launching their own label. I
know they will bring a level of care to the Red House
imprint that I don’t believe I could have found in another
Compass Records Group has more than 600 titles in its
catalog with a focus on folk, bluegrass, Celtic music,
jazz and new acoustic artists. Men at Work’s Colin Hay,
the Proclaimers, the Infamous Stringdusters, Bobby Osborne
and Claire Lynch are among the company’s current artists.
Compass is also home to two seminal Irish catalogs, Green
Linnet and Mulligan Records, both acquired in the mid-2000s.
Minnesota native, Ross Raihala joined the Pioneer Press
as pop music critic in 2004, after stints at The Forum
in Fargo, N.D., and The Olympian in Olympia, Wash. He
covers local and national music as well as some theater
and other arts and entertainment topics. His favorite
part of his job is reviewing, and live tweeting, Twin
Cities arena concerts. And, yes, he saw the same show
here for the link on Blog.thecurrent.org
St. Paul roots label Red
House records acquired by Nashvilles Compass Records Group
Red House Records
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House Records news on the Compass Records website.