I first heard Frank Fairfield in the Manhattan office of his record label, Tompkins Square Records, on a trip I took to New York in October 2008 to see a heavy metal band. It was a YouTube video that had been recorded about a month earlier. Fairfield played “Rose Connelly”, an old murder ballad in which the title character is poisoned and stabbed by her lover. He sat with a straight, stiff back, his body pushed forward in a wooden slat back chair, sawing his fiddle with eyes closed, his motion both perfectly fluid and somehow pained. I was transfixed. I left with a little 7″ record of two Fairfield cuts. Josh Rosenthal, who runs the label, promised more were on the way.
I didn’t tell Fairfield this the few times we spoke on the phone 18 months later: The young old-time fiddler, banjo player, guitar picker, and– above all– singer despises New York, which he seems to see as an asphalt-overwhelmed corporate jungle. Oh, he loathes the record industry, too, though he seems to like Rosenthal just fine. His interest in rock’n’roll seems, at best, distant. And 7″s? 78s, please
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