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Earwig Music Company, Inc. was founded in October 1978 in Chicago by Michael Frank as a record label and artist management company. The label grew out of a musical and personal friendship between the label founder and Honeyboy Edwards, whom Michael had met in the fall of 1972 at a club in Chicago. Michael started playing harmonica with Honeyboy in 1973, and after a long hiatus, has returned to doing so.

The label's mission was and is to make and release new and reissue recordings by African American blues and jazz musicians and artists working in the African American oral tradition, to facilitate career opportunities for the musicians, while whenever possible recording material not previously recorded by the artists, and to introduce blues fans to a wider range of blues artists than they would otherwise hear, by taking them to clubs in the African American community and by producing special shows.

Over the years the label has broadened its ethnic and stylistic reach to include independent artists of any ethnicity who write and perform their own material rooted in African American and folk tradition.

Artists currently on the active Earwig roster for recording and touring are Honeyboy Edwards, Johnny Drummer, and Liz Mandville Greeson.

The label has released thirty-eight blues albums of which five are reissue of the artists' self produced and distributed albums, and four were produced by outside producers. Michael Frank, label CEO, produced thirty of these, as well as three other sessions not released. He also produced the last recordings of Louis Myers, Maxwell Street Jimmy Davis, and Willie Johnson - fabled guitarist from the early Howlin' Wolf Band.

The label has released eight albums by nationally renowned folk storytellers Jackie Torrence, Alice McGill, Bobby Norfolk and Laura Simms. These folktellers' Earwig recordings won American Library Association, Parents Choice, and NAIRD Awards, two jazz albums by Pittsburgh's Carl Arter (piano)
and Tiny Irvin (female vocalist), and one Southern Black gospel album by the Gospel Trumpets of North Carolina.

Best selling blues records on the label are by The Jelly Roll Kings, Honeyboy Edwards, Big Jack Johnson, Jimmy Dawkins, and Liz Mandville Greeson. Jackie Torrence's and Laura Simms storytelling recordings have also done particularly well.

The label released Big Jack Johnson's first recordings as a leader, and also introduced Cincinatti's H-Bomb Ferguson and Detroit's Johnny "Yard Dog" Jones to the national blues scene. Johnny won a Handy Award - Best New Artist - for his Earwig cd Ain't Gonna Worry. He also won the Living Blues Critics Poll in the category Best New Artist - Contemporary, for the album. The label also arranged gigs for Louisiana Red's long anticipated triumphant return from Germany to US touring in 1999 upon the heels of his Handy nominated Earwig cd Millennium Blues.

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Michael Frank has also been responsible for managing the career of David Honeyboy Edwards for twenty-seven years, including getting Honeyboy's oral history/autobiography published. The book won both a Handy Award and a Keeping the Blues Alive award, and is widely recognized as one of the most important books on blues ever written. Mr. Edwards won a 2002 National Endowment For the Arts - Heritage Fellowship Award.

  

Earwig Story (Soul Bag Magazine - Fall '95)

For a catalog of the finest in traditional and contemporary blues, or information on any Earwig recording artist, contact us at Earwig Music Company, Inc., 2054 W. Farwell Ave. - Garden Unit, Chicago, IL 60645-4963; phone 773-262-0278, fax 773-262-0285, e-mail mfrank@earwigmusic.com

Earwig Music is distributed in the United States by Burnside Distribution Corporation, 6635 N. Baltimore Ave, Suite 285, Portland, OR 97203 Voice: (503) 231-0876, Fax: (503) 231-0420 sales@bdcdistribution.com 

Earwig Music is distributed in Europe by Parsifal bvba, Gulden Vlieslaan 67, B-8000 Brugge, Belgium, phone 50 339516, fax 50 333386

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