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Canary Records

Canary Records is the wealth of the turn of the 20th century we’ve all been searching for run by the experimental composer, producer, and longtime record collector, Ian Nagoski. Canary is based in Baltimore and digitizes 78s recorded by people who immigrated to the United States in the first half of the 20th century.

Personally, what I think makes Nagoski’s collection so special is the research that goes into each release - just enough to push you down a rabbit hole. Nagoski’s posts and tumblr let you read alongside your listening.

One Menuhin-Bartok record tells the story of a 27 year old Yehudi commissioning a violin sonata from an ailing Bartok undergoing leukemia treatment (and not modern treatment, 1944 treatment). The story begins like two work horses who don’t know when to stop and ends with Menuhin leading Bartok on stage to receive tribute at the Carnegie Hall premiere as a last hurrah. “Bartok wrote one further piece before he died Sept. 26, 1945.”

Serbian Dance Band in New Jersey, ca. 1949​-​50 by Banat Tamburitza Orchestra (a 14 track album) tells the story of a band formed in 1913 in New Jersey by a group of musicians who all came from the same village of Sânpetru Mare (then-population about 2,000) in modern day western Romania. Nagoski references books he’s read to find this information

Unlike most nameless youtube collections, each post by Canary Records is well documented. Nagoski puts life into the music with these mini-histories. Perhaps you’re not googling early Greek-American music, but you’re certainly ready to click and read about a record titled “

Canary Records has been posting on Tumblr and Bandcamp since 2006 and will seemingly continue to post as long as we’re here to listen.

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