BRUIN UP A STORM
There is a company which rejects the slash-and-burn ways of the modern music business. Instead, Bear Family issues often truly obscure music in box sets of implausibly high quality, delighting collectors with its no-stone-unturned approach. How does it do it? Noel Hawks finds out
All too often “family” is a misnomer for an organisation that resembles the Sicilian Mafia definition of the term; plenty of “respect” masking simmering, sublimated tension, and not a lot of love anywhere.
However the atmosphere in Bear Family’s farmhouse headquarters deep in the woods, some 40km outside Bremen in Northern Germany, is that of a real family. I was recently privileged to attend one of their biannual meetings in founder Richard Weize’s home, where all the “clan” gathered around a huge kitchen table to discuss Bear Family business. The table was later revealed to be made from the door of Gabe Tucker’s office in Houston, Texas. After Gabe had left his partnership with Colonel Tom Parker, he started his own company which booked country artists into the Houston Halls and they all signed the door on their visit to his office. The Bear Family kitchen contained five – count ’em – five vintage juke boxes ranged around walls hung with vintage posters and framed memorabilia, and the Family is obviously built on a rock-solid foundation of love and respect for music, musical history and for each other. The cockles of my heart were genuinely warmed and I began to feel that the reports of the death of the record business had been greatly exaggerated.
“It has always …
by Noel Hawks
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