About the FRC


Musicians entering the scene today will never get to spend time with the older musicians; they are now almost all gone. If you ask musicians new to old time music, ”Where did you learn that tune?” many will say, “From so-and-so at such-and-such a festival.” If you are familiar with the source, often their version seems completely removed from the source, watered down and homogenized. John Cohen once told me that sometimes the most radical thing you can do to move ahead is to go backwards. I hope that the [Field Recorders’ Collective] can leave a legacy for future travelers, repaving the old time highway to reconstruct this music with the old timers as guides. In the end, I can only say it was a treasure for me to be shown this direction by them. —Ray Alden, 2003


The Field Recorders’ Collective is an IRS-recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and distribution of noncommercial recordings of traditional American music, material that is unavailable to the general public. Although some recordings in the collection have been shared privately and informally among collectors, they have never before been made readily available to the entire old time and traditional music community. Many of the source recordings used by the FRC come from private collections belonging to the individuals who made them. Although a number of source recordings are available through specialized music archives, gaining access to the archives (which may be thousands of miles away) and to the recordings that they maintain isn’t always simple. Sometimes, archival recordings can only be heard by visiting the archive. And even when an archive is willing to provide a copy, the cost can be prohibitive.

What does the FRC do?  Among other things, your purchase of FRC products enables us to:

  • track down important collections of traditional music;
  • audition source recordings and selects the best examples for inclusion on our albums;
  • digitally edit these recordings to trim out what isn’t relevant;
  • apply suitable EQ and filters to create a high quality listening and learning experience; and
  • solicit written background material and photographs for context, available via the FRC website.

To view the full list of collectors and the projects they have contributed, click here.

The Field Recorders’ Collective controls the cost of producing and shipping CDs by several means:

  1. In addition to being far less fragile, cardboard sleeves are much more environmentally friendly than plastic jewel cases.  And they’re easier and cheaper than jewel cases to ship, via priority mail.
  2. Although the cardboard jacket limit the amount of information that accompanies each CD, we are committed to providing liner notes, photos, and other information on our Web site.
  3. The Internet now allows us to sell CDs via download.  This will help us get great music to you faster, with less effort, and at lower cost.

Your support for this project is important.  In purchasing products from the Field Recorders’ Collective, you enable us to continue our educational and cultural mission.  Profit for the sale of CDs helps the musicians and/or their families as well as the collectors who originally made these priceless recordings. Without your support, none of this would be possible.

We know that you will enjoy the FRC’s products and that they will become an important addition to your traditional music library.