Bill NowlinApr 20, 2021
My Fifty Years at Rounder Records
Equinox Publishing 2020
In Vinyl Ventures: My Fifty Years at Rounder Records (Equinox, 2021), founder Bill Nowlin combines memoir with a history of the founding and evolution of Rounder as he talks about his experiences as one of the labels three founders. Rounder Records was born in 1970, a "hobby that got out of control," a fledgling record company more or less conceived while the Sixties were still in flower, which began on just over $1,000. Founded by three friends just out of college, the Boston-area company produced over 3,000 record albums, the most active company of the last half-century specializing in roots music and its contemporary offshoots. Rounder won 56 Grammy Awards and documented a swath of music that in many cases might otherwise never have been presented to a broader public. It's arguably a quintessentially American success story. This book focuses on the early years up to and just through when Rounder evolved to a second stage, with a generational change that has kept the label healthy and flourishing when so many other cultural enterprises from the era have folded or gone dark. It's the story of three people with no background in business who took an idea and, through hard work and passion, built up something of lasting cultural significance.
Rebekah Buchanan is an Associate Professor of English and Director of English Education at Western Illinois University. Her research focuses on feminism, activism, and literacy practices in youth culture, specifically through zines and music.