“If I was the mayor of San Diego, I’d give Lou the key to the city” – Michael Taft, head of the archives of the American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
This past weekend the San Diego Union Tribune ran a great feature story about Lou Curtiss, patriarch of the San Diego folk scene known worldwide for his vast knowledge and appreciation of folk, blues, jazz, rhythm & blues, rock & roll, show tunes and a vast inventory of 78 rpm records. Folk Arts is the home of the Lou Curtiss Sound Library, which comprises over 90,000 hours and 90 years of vintage sound recordings.
Lou hosts Jazz Roots every Sunday night on KSDS 88.3 FM in San Diego. You can listen online at jazz88online.org. On the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month, Lou hosts a “Singers Circle” at Club Kadan, a pub on the corner of Adams Avenue and 30th Street. Come down and bring your instruments, the pickin’ starts around 6 pm.
Over the course of the past 30 years, Lou has organized or booked over 50 music festivals in San Diego, including the Adams Avenue Street Fair and the Adams Avenue Roots Festival.
Lou also writes a column for the San Diego Troubadour, worth reading to find out about some of the preservation work that is going on to maintain Lou’s library.
Some of my best experiences buying records and learning about music have happened in Lou’s shop. The history of Folk Arts in San Diego has been carried forward by people like Lou and the community of singers, writers, players and musicians that surround the store. Plan a journey, I’ve always found something at Lou’s shop unexpected or that I never thought I’d see again.