Learning and telling the stories of Near Eastern musicians in the US in the early decades of the 20th century.
LAST CALL With just 3 hours left to go, I've gone ahead and posted the last few gift mp3s for backers - 11 tracks total for a contribution of as a little as $1. Thanks so much to everyone who made this possible, especially Matt Bowden who made the video. (His own project, By and By: New Orleans Gospel at the Crossroads, launches soon - watch for it! It's awesome!) Anyone interested in being in touch (or contributing) after the campaign closes this evening can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE: We're funded to the point that travel will be possible both to the West Coast and the East Mediterranean! Wa-Hoo!! If you're not able to come to the the US or overseas show, I'll be posting videos from my lectures, meetings with collectors and experiences in archives if we reach the $11,000 milestone. Here's hoping, and THANK YOU!
"To What Strange Place: The Music of the Ottoman-American Diaspora, 1916-1929" tells the story of Middle Eastern culture as it existed within the U.S. a century ago.
Before the Golden Age of Americana on Record, immigrants from the dissolving Ottoman Empire were singing their joys and sorrows to disc in New York City.
I have toured the project in the northeast of America and in Western Europe, but despite my best efforts, I have not been able to take it to the West Coast or the Midwest. It is important that I do. The major enclaves of Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks - in places such as Detroit, Chicago, and in particular, Los Angeles, there is a great deal of research to be done, and it is important to tell what I have learned along the way to the communities there.
The 3CD set of To What Strange Place published last year is just the beginning of a story that needs to be told. In order to finish it, a book needs to be done. I have worked on To What Strange Place as a labor-of-love for the past six years, but to finish the project, I must travel at the very least within the US. Any funds contributed over or beyond the baseline here will go toward the writing of the book that To What Strange Place has always wanted to be.
There are over 100,000 words of notes have been written for the set - only 13,000 have been published. I am continuing to uncover new information and need assistance in bringing these stories to light.
The first two discs of the CD set are comprised of virtuoso performances by musicians from Anatolia, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Levant - all living and recording in the United States between WWI and the Depression. Included also is a third disc of masterpieces - imported memories from home in shellac-and-stone.
What did they carry with them? What did they listen to? How did they affect American culture? How were they largely neglected for a century? A fascinating, new view of American Folk Music and wonderful music.
The amazing stories of the musicians and their lives form an important stories in the history of America, the rise of the record business, and the lives, work, and struggles of great musicians. What I've done these past six years, with only the donations and support of friends and family until very recently, is only the beginning. I need your help to continue the work.
My dream is to learn the history of Middle Eastern music in the US and to share it, to help recover some important part of our memory as Americans. By donating, you are helping to rewrite American musical history and strengthening the voice of great musics of our past.
Selected Reviews of To What Strange Place:
8.3 "It feels as essential to an understanding of American music as anything else." - PItchfork
4.5/5 "a beautiful and labyrinthine Americana, one that stretches confines of the definition of the word itself. It is an essential document for collectors of world music, but also for those interested in the unsung personas that created 20th century America." - AllMusic
"Comparisons with Harry Smith's anthology or Revenant's American Primitive are in order, not least because this is American music with a capital A, animated by the same feelings of desperation, nostalgia, the quest for cheap kicks and the agony of loss. Like Smith, Nagoski is a Walter Benjamin visionary, using his collection of 78s to hallucinate a history that actually happened but which remains hidden beneath official dogma and nationalisms." -The Wire, August 2011
"Nagoski's affection for this music is more than apparent; it's his dedication to honoring the musicians' lives, traditions, and communities that makes To What Strange Place the triumph it is. It's one of the most valuable contributions to our understanding and appreciation of American music -- as that's what this is -- to come down the pike in a long time." - Other Music
5/5 "...spend a little time with it and the joys, sorrows, yearnings and pride of a life spent far, far away from home will creep into your soul." - Record Collector
"Our highest award is five stars but in my opinion, you could double that for this priceless collection. I'm convinced this perfectly produced set is destined to win some huge award this year because it's absolutely faultless." - RedLick
"*****" - The Scotsman
"a massive treasury of world music roots, providing context, contemplation, and wonder over the course of just a few hours." - Short and Sweet NYC
"Timeless beauty... a very special time capsule. Magnificent." - Moors Magazine
"Record of the Year. [...] a masterpiece." - Distorsioni
"one of the best collections of music of 2011. We strongly advise you pick up a copy." - Foxy Digitalis
“this project draws parallels with Alan Lomax’s lifetime’s work [...] rich and varied…” - Rouse Hill Times
"Ian Nagoski's To What Strange Place is a work of great beauty." - Jace Clayton / DJ /rupture
"I was entranced; I was FASCINATED. It is one of the most worthwhile purchases you will make this year. I went and got mine; I think you should, too." - Henry Rollins, KCRW
Articles on To What Strange Place:
Sounds of To What Strange Place:
I leave it completely up to you. If you feel that you can put extra money to cover shipping, of course I'll be grateful, but it is not in any way required. Thank you for considering contributing!