Limited-edition of 20 wax cylinders, hand signed and numbered by Dom
“I wrote the song “I Can’t Do It Anymore” in the style of early rock and roll pioneers like Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, and Hank Ballard who recorded on 45s and 78s in the 1950s. In 2016, I was asked to play bluesman Joe Hill Louis “The Bebop Boy” on CMT’s original show Sun Records. This acting opportunity allowed me to showcase my repertoire that includes rhythm and blues from Memphis and Chicago.
I chose to release this original song both digitally and on a wax cylinder as a way to present the older technology and juxtaposed it to the modern streaming standards of recorded music. In the 21st century, we are now at a crossroads because we have reached the 100 year threshold of American popular roots music that first began with wax cylinder recordings as early as the 1890s.
The wax cylinder is considered a remnant of the past but when the first personal cylinder players were introduced to the world by Thomas Edison in 1890 they were not only considered modern, they were cutting edge technology. For the first time a person could hear themselves back on a gramophone in a form that was easy to record and retrieve for multiple listens. This not only transformed popular music but changed the study of ethnomusicology. Folklorist like John A. Lomax could capture the obscure voices hidden within the heartland of America, which opened up potentially marginalized music to wider audiences around the world.
The first time I ever had a chance to record a wax cylinder was over ten years ago at a Folk Alliance International conference with musician and documentarian Martin Fisher. I had the great fortune to sit down with Martin and discuss his interests and passion for this wax cylinder technology. Here is our conversation and several of my wax cylinder recordings that are now housed at the Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University.
In 2019, I had the opportunity to contribute to the liner notes on a 3-CD boxed set calledProtobilly: The Minstrel and Tin Pan Alley DNA Of County Music 1897-2017. The collection explores the popular music of the 1890s and its journey through the recordings beginning with wax cylinders.
I am excited to release this limited edition and autographed wax cylinder recording of “I Can’t Do It Anymore” fromProspect Hill: The American Songster Omnibus on Omnivore Recordings! It is an honor to celebrate over 100 years of American roots music! Welcome to the time warp!”—Dom Flemons
I Can’t Do It Anymore