Chicago, the most populous Swedish city after Stockholm, was also home to the first record label founded by a Nordic immigrant to the United States. Gustaf Waldemar Wallin, a former crofter from Sweden’s rocky western coast, owned a music shop and launched Wallin’s Svenska Records, issuing 28 ten-inch shellac discs (56 tracks) from 1923 to 1927. Performers ran the era’s gamut: raucous vaudevillians; operatic tenors; accordion dance bands intermingling venerable folk tunes with hot jazz; sedate classical duos and novelty bell ringers; rousing vocal quartets and massed choirs; seasoned professionals and moonlighting amateurs. Further, Wallin’s discs were recorded by two important entrepreneurs with Chicago studios: evangelist Homer Rodeheaver, who made acoustic records, and Orlando Marsh, who pioneered in the field of electrical recording. Comprising two CDs remastered from rare discs, Swede Home Chicago includes a richly illustrated 76-page booklet—co-authored by folklorists Jim Leary and Marcus Cederström, and Archeophone’s Richard Martin—featuring an essay on the label’s history, performers’ biographies, track notes, Swedish lyrics, and English translations, combining to illuminate a vibrant bygone musical scene that expands our understanding of America’s perpetual musical pluralism. Produced in cooperation with the Mills Music Library and the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
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Visit Swede Home Chicago's expanded catalogue page to see the complete track listing and listen to sound samples.