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The Mississippi Records Tour Is Coming To Phoenix

Banjo & bones player Abner Jay is one of the many artists whose work found new life thanks to Mississippi Records.
Banjo & bones player Abner Jay is one of the many artists whose work found new life thanks to Mississippi Records.
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

Go get your hammers, all you local blues hounds, jazzcats, world music lovers, and vinyl fiends: It’s time to smash your piggy banks. The legendary Mississippi Records is coming to town.

On Friday, January 11, the Portland, Oregon, record store is swinging by Valley Bar as part of its national tour. Founded by Eric Isaacson and Warren Hill in 2003, Mississippi Records is both a brick-and-mortar shop and a record label. Over the course of their 15 years and counting, they've put out over 230 records by artists like Michael Hurley, Dead Moon, and Abner Jay. The label specializes in unearthed rarities: They've reissued incredible funk, blues, world music, and American soul albums.

In addition to being a reliable curator of sonic obscurities, the store has also gained a reputation for its unwavering principles. Painted over the door of the shop is Mississippi’s credo and north star: “Always – Love Over Gold.” Isaacson is notorious for pricing his stock at rock-bottom prices ($10 and under) and won’t take credit cards. The records they issue are limited-print runs (and once they’re gone, they are G-O-N-E). As for online ordering? Forget about it.

Considering the store’s disinterest in social media and publicity, their 21-city tour comes as a surprise.While they’re not the first boutique record label to do a pop-up in town (Numero Group did a tour stop in Phoenix back in 2016), Mississippi is pulling out some neat extra bells and whistles for crate-diggers who come out to the event.

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Store owner Isaacson will be presenting a film and talk presentation called "A Cosmic and Earthly History of Recorded Music According to Mississippi Records," a mix of audio, film, and slides that will illustrate Isaacson’s attempt to tell the entire history of recorded music in 90 minutes. Mississippi Records will also be presenting short films by Raw Music International, which feature performances from musicians in Kenya, Trinidad, Ukraine, Iraq, Burma, Mongolia, Turkey, Thailand, Cambodia, Zanzibar, Thailand, and the Western Sahara. And Gordon Ashworth of Olvido Records will also be doing a DJ set.

There will, of course, also be cheap records for sale at the tour stop. Remember to bring cash in case Mississippi takes their “no credit cards” policy on the road.

Mississippi Records American Tour 2019. 6:30 p.m. Friday, January 11, at Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue; valleybarphx.com. Tickets are $5 to $8 via Valley Bar.

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