In 1929 and 1930, a series of recording sessionsÂ which produced over 100Â released tracks of blues, country, jazz, and gospel music, along with other tracks that went unissued were waxed at Knoxvilleâ€™s St. James Hotel, on Union Avenue which is long gone.
The German record company Bear Family, is planning to release a box set of the existing recordings soon.
The 2016 Knoxville Stomp Festival of Lost Music, set for May 5th â€“ 8th, will feature a weekend long downtown event will include live music, speakers, panels, film screenings, a 78 record collectorsâ€™ show, and a corresponding exhibit at the East Tennessee History Museum that will run from April 11th to October 16th.
Headliners will includea live show byÂ Dom Flemons, a co-founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, a North Carolina string band that takes its name from the Tennessee Chocolate Drops, one of the acts that recorded at the St. James Hotel.Â Amanda Petrusich, whose 2014 book, â€˜Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the Worldâ€™s Rarest 78 rpm Recordsâ€™, which explored the world of old-time and blues music collectors, will also appear, as will the legendary â€˜King Of Record Collectorsâ€™Â Joe Bussard, from Maryland whose efforts in the 1950s and â€™60s preserved much of the music we now have from the 1920s and â€™30s.
Also appearing will be Tony Russell, a noted UK music historian and Bear Family co-founder Richard Weize.
The Knoxville sessions are noted for their diversity, especially compared to similar recording sessions around the same time in Johnson City and Bristol, which were largely old-time and country music. The St. James recordings were more cosmopolitan, reflecting a vibrant urban culture thatâ€™s barely remembered. Reeves says this project can help restore some of that lost history.