Joe Bussard is a man obsessed. While many of us can claim to be music junkies, not many of us can claim to be true musical anachronisms. Mr. Bussard collects records, not the now obsolete 33 1/3 and 45 rpm records we all grew up with, but the brittle old 78s your grandmother (or maybe great-grandmother) threw out years ago. Not impressed? He has over 25,000 discs in his posession. But, as you'll soon see, the records are not the true nature of his obsession.
Bussard wants more than a collection he can hide away in his own personal treasure trove. He wants to share this music with people like you. He wants to light a fire in the hearts of music lovers across the nation, he wants everyone to know how important this music is to the American culture. Bussard sees the music from the early part of the 20th century, from 1925-32, as the key to understanding today's popular music trends. Back then, Dixieland jazz, early blues, and country music was the rage across the land.
So what is Bussard doing to save this music he loves? For one, he has been doing radio shows for the past 40 years. He is currently on three radio stations at present, the most notable one being a show on WNCW in Spindale, NC. His listeners range from older music lovers to teenagers seeking asylum from commercial radio playlists. He is not surprised when others take a liking to the music--he says they just need to know it exists. His logic is simple and to the point: "How are they going to know it if they can't hear it?"
Now Bussard has ventured beyond the older technology of radio and set up shop on the internet. On his Vintage78.com you can order custom tapes from thousands of records, spanning the genres of old-time country, bluegrass, blues, and gospel. You're sure to find something "new" amongst all the dusty stacks. "99% of the people in this country have never even heard of this kind of stuff," Bussard said.
And that really is the issue. This is the birth of "independent" music in our nation, when traditional regional music was at its creative peak. On this point, Bussard is unapologetic. "This music should be heard, it should be preserved. It's a crying shame because this is a part of our heritage," Bussard said.