Label Owner Admits: “This Ain’t No Way to Make a Living”
(ST. LOUIS) Like most great ideas, the concept for Broke & Hungry Records was born in a bar. A juke joint, to be precise. But unlike most great ideas, this one went from half-baked bar babble to stark reality at a juggernaut’s pace.
In early October 2005, Broke & Hungry Records founder Jeff Konkel first slurred aloud the idea of starting a country blues label. Less than a month later Broke & Hungry Records was registered as a limited liability company in the State of Missouri. Two weeks after that the label cut its first CD, Back to Bentonia by “Jimmy Duck” Holmes. That CD will be released worldwide on April 18, 2006 six months after the hangover wore off.
Broke & Hungry Records is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, a city well known for its contribution to blues music. Yet the label’s initial focus is on capturing the rough, country blues sounds that have emanated from the Mississippi Delta for nearly a hundred years. These were the blues that first captured the attention of the label’s founder when he began immersing himself in the music during his late teens.
Konkel is a veteran public relations practitioner and avowed blues fan. He has no experience in the music industry. There are some who contend he has no business in it.
“I’m flying blind here,” Konkel readily confesses. “Fortunately I’ve surrounded myself with people who can make this thing a success.” Chief among them are the musicians themselves. For the label’s inaugural release Konkel tapped three veteran bluesmen: The legendary Sam Carr whose propulsive drumming style has become the standard for Delta juke blues over the last half century; Bud Spires whose harmonica playing first entranced the blues world 35 years ago; and, at the center of it all, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, a little known but masterful guitarist, singer and songwriter who has been honing his craft at his legendary Blue Front Cafe for decades.
Another integral piece of the puzzle is recording engineer Bill Abel, whose sharp ear and deft hand were pivotal in capturing on tape the awesome talents of Holmes, Spires and Carr. Abel, who is himself a master blues guitarist, was also able to harness the untamed acoustics of the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Mississippi to create one of the warmest, most intimate blues recordings of recent times.
Also seminal to Broke & Hungry Records is Anne Willis, a St. Louis-based graphic designer whose work for the label including logo design, album artwork and Web site development has created a visual language that perfectly matches the rough-hewn sound the record label is dedicated to capturing and promoting.
Back to Bentonia is just the first of many releases planned by the label. It will be followed in short order by a stunning country blues release featuring Wesley Jefferson and Terry “Big T” Williams, two Clarksdale, Mississippi natives who are better known for their thundering, electrified work. Blues fans who are only familiar with that side of these two veteran artists are likely to be stunned by their upcoming release.
Broke & Hungry Records releases will be available in select stores and through online retailers as well as through the label’s own Web site at www.brokeandhungryrecords.com.
For more information on Broke & Hungry Records, contact
314.832.6947 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.