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Soul Searchers

Atlanta's Dust-to-Digital Records unearths the origins of blues legend John Fahey



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  • Melissa Stephenson / Courtesy of Dust-to-Digital Records

In 2006, Lance and April got married, and eventually they moved out of their tiny apartment. For five years they ran Dust-to-Digital from their house in Ormewood Park, but with so many projects in the works, they opened an office in July 2010 on DeKalb Avenue near Little Five Points. Both share responsibilities with the label's day-to-to-day operations. Lance works on the conceptual side while April edits, advises and processes the mail orders they receive.

The office on DeKalb was their base of operations for just more than a year, but by the time this story is printed, they will have moved everything back to their home. "We're scaling back," Ledbetter says. "Managing a second location was just too much. Right now we're committed to 17 projects, and the simpler we can make things, the better."

Whether working from an office or their living room, Dust-to-Digital's impact reaches far beyond that musty basement in Frederick. "Our most important accomplishment is keeping what we deem as important music from being forgotten," Ledbetter says. In doing so the label has contributed to music as a whole. "Win Butler of Arcade Fire has said that Goodbye, Babylon was the inspiration for the album Neon Bible. Bob Dylan gave a copy of the same set to Neil Young, and Brian Eno gave one to Paul Simon, who sampled one of the sermons on his record So Beautiful or So What. I've had artists at bluegrass and blues festivals tell me that our titles are a constant resource for learning old songs," he continues. "Inspiring popular artists as well as amateur musicians is important for us, and if the adventurous listener that has never picked up a banjo in his life gets turned on to some old tunes, that's great, too."

Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You is the first and the last word on the transfiguration of the man, adding finality to his career and filling in the blanks on where it all began. And like Fahey's step into a brave new world, Dust-to-Digital has followed suit through his music. It's a journey clearly worth the effort, no matter the outcome.

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