If you have any experience with old-time music, you know it is not a path to great financial fortune. Look at the number of old-time musicians who can be called full-time. Most of them are ingenious entrepreneurs who have either expanded their music to embrace other forms or have become roaming teachers, producers, and authors. Bet your bottom dollar, they have a spouse or some connection to health care. There are no benefits for this line of work other than altruism. Given this set of restrictions, it is all the more amazing that organizations will go out on the proverbial limb to produce recordings of old-time music. Just such a case is Spring Fed Records’ re-release of the catalog of Davis Unlimited, a label that focused on old-time fiddling and old-time music. Evan Hatch of the Arts Center of Cannon County, Tennessee, shared the following information in an interview in November of 2006.
Spring Fed Records is part of the Arts Center of Cannon County, a private non-profit community arts center located in Woodbury, Tennessee. The Arts Center annually serves over 40,000 persons through its Playhouse Series, concert series, Young at Arts performance series, and classes. In 2002 the Arts Center inaugurated its Folk and Traditional Arts Programming, which focuses on the preservation and documentation of local craft traditions, and the production of traditional music CDs. We work using a model of preservation through production. We’ve released three factory-pressed CDs and 15 print-on-demand CDs. The print-on-demand stuff also opens up to us a world of new music projects.
The Arts Center of Cannon County’s Executive Director, Donald Fann became aware of the Davis Unlimited catalog while producing phase of a CD project and let that pool of material help shape the project. At that time there were no Sam McGee field recordings to be had, but Steven Davis and Donald discussed the possibility of a Davis Unlimited reissue project. Based on the model put forth by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Spring Fed Records is now offering 15 of the original 44 Davis Unlimited Catalogue (roughly one third) on custom, print-on-demand CDs. SFR-101 was a reissue of a Davis Unlimited/Tennessee Folklore Society project Uncle Dave at Home. Spring Fed Records’ mission is to make available recordings of talented musicians from the Middle Tennessee area, and because Davis Unlimited focused heavily on musicians from the Tennessee Valley, they thought the partnership was a pretty good fit. . . .