CAJUN ACCORDION DISCUSSION GROUP
I can answer this.
There is no comprehensive Falcon (nor Breaux) CD/digital set. There are a loose collection of some of their materials in several CD box sets, many discontinued. In fact, there are some original Falcon/Breaux materials that haven't actually been found in playable condition since their initial release in the 30s (most of that missing on Decca). These 2 families recorded for Columbia (some coissued on Okeh), RCA's Bluebird, ARC's Vocalion, and Decca. Of course, there's some post-war LP reissues and that live performance still available, ......and plenty of ripped internet MP3 bootleg projects (such as Miletones of Legends, eh hem)
I've personally embarked on seeing this project get kicked off and it's been through some ups and downs. Projects like this involve a defined scope. They involve professionals from different backgrounds. Collectors. Transfer engineers. Masterers. Media producers. Maybe even marketing, depending upon how big of a reissue label agrees upon. Below gives the high level view of what this entails.....
The first step in something like this is obviously obtaining the cleanest (sometimes file) copies of these rare 78s. Also, rarely does one find this in one location. It usually involves obtaining the permission of multiple collectors/achivists/institutions to agree to utilize their copies, and it comes with a cost. Lucky for us, there are some collectors out there (and even a producer) that holds onto some of the cleanest copies available. As you can imagine, it comes down to money.
Second, it requires someone not just a professional at mastering music, but someone who has experience transferring music from pre-war 78 RPM recordings. These come with noise/hiss that takes a specially training engineer to work with. Needle sizes need to be accounted for dealing with the proper groove size. Technical expertise here.
Third, even when the transfers are complete, sound levels need to be adjusted and certain amounts of noise needs to be removed, but not everything. Knowing the right balance on all of this requires experience. Naturally, that costs.
Fourth, if physical media, there's liner notes, information, photos, packaging art if any. Stuff like that.
Then you need(?) a label, major or indie, willing to take on the upfront costs of producing the box set and selling. If you're talking about a digital release (Bandcamp or Spotify), then this tends to be minimal. Quite popular today. But generally, the quality isn't the same once compressed. If you're talking about physical media (CD or LP reissues), that cost can be substantial depending on the scope of the project. Given a) CD sales are all time low causing companies to rarely produce them, and b) Cajun music projects are never big sellers comparatively, labels generally shy away from these knowing they may never break even. (Even Tompkins Square that produced the last Ardoin CD admitted dismal sales and cringed at any more Cajun music CD projects)
Speaking of labels, there's always the nasty copyright/royalty agreements needed that indie labels must acquire. Yes, even 100 yr old recordings still fall under this and much of their music's publishing rights is now owned by Sony Music Corp and Universal Music Group. Two of the biggest titans in the industry that acquired these rights. In fact, obtaining rights can be THE biggest logistical nightmare and other larger reissue projects have struggled in this area. It's rights management that usually holds back any good reissue project, relegating it to the dustbin of wishful thinking. You would think they could care less about someone making money on old music from the 30s, however, just ask the guys that produced the Paramount blues box set. Had to learn that lesson the hard way!
So where are we today with getting this done? There has been a few interested industry parties in wanting to see this happen. Two of them are highly respected collectors. One of them had planned to kick off a quasi-complete version of the project, but since 2018, he seems to have soured on the idea. Some others have expressed some mild interest in helping out. Clearly, they would all have to do this as a "labor of love" project, with only limited hopes in breaking even. I'm not giving up but i'm also realistic that all the cards have to line up for this to happen.
In the meantime, here's a list of the CD's you'd need to acquire to get most of what's out there....
Cajun Early Recordings - Various Artists (JSP 7726)
Cajun Capers: Cajun Music 1928-1954 (Proper BOX 91)
Cajun: Rare and Authentic (JSP 77115)
Cajun Vol. 1 Abbeville Breakdown 1929-1939 (CBS 467250)
If you have any other questions, let me know.
That's a good summary, Wade!
I wonder if this lp is available on eBay?
Cleoma B Falcon A Cajun Music Classic
Most but not all of these recordings have Joe Falcon on them too. Some feature fiddle, like Lulu's Back in Town.
Clearly still a worthwhile project in any medium.
If anyone is interested in hearing these recording from 1928-1937…