We are talking about musicians and artists who contribute to form our lives more enjoyable with their music and stage shows. Music has been pretty helpful for me too when once again one of those inevitable or perceived setbacks in my life occurred.
It is often overlooked or not perceived that behind every successful artist there are people who believe in him and pave the way to success for him. In the mainstream music industry the artist is part of the production apparatus which is necessarily results-based – so he is (potentially) determined by others in what he is doing.
Our segment of blues and jazz music is different. The ‘Great’ labels are small businesses measured by the standard and usually not financed lushly. The economic risks of the holders of independent record companies are great – the more I admire those who take these risks driven by their enthusiasm and their joy of music. They show us that great music productions can be made with reasonable effort.
Without Sirens Records my life and my music collection would be considerably poorer. Sirens stands for authentic Chicago blues, gospel and jazz. Among other things, Sirens produced the Chicago blues greats Katherine Davis, Erwin Helfer, Barrelhouse Chuck, Pinetop Perkins and Detroit Junior. In jazz and gospel you will find Earma Thompson, Jessy Dixon, Reverend Dwayne R. Mason, Donald Gay and many others.
This is not mainstream music, it is high quality timeless entertainment. It may be a coincidence that Erwin Helfer on his annual German tour occurs in my area playing the castle Landestrost – but it fits. Barrelhouse Chuck and Kim Wilson you will certainly meat playing a festival or a club.
All this doesn’t matter when I’m at home and looking for an album to listen to. In my Sirens Records collection I usually find the music for every mood. The sound is clean, clear and transparent, the pressing is properly and the booklets are designed highly informative with much effort and commitment. In other words, the records are audiophile ones.
The founder, owner and mastermind of Sirens Records is Dr. Steven Dolins. His enthusiasm and commitment we owe many outstanding albums. Dolins is a computer specialist. He worked for many years in the computer industry before being appointed as a professor at the Bradley University specialized in Data Bank Management.
He says that he has founded Sirens Records because of his love for the piano and to his mentor Erwin Helfer – who was his first piano teacher – in order to give something back to him.
Sirens Records he sees as his ability helping to continue the long Chicago tradition of the blues piano (1920-1970). He wants to obtain the gospel and jazz music and to continue this tradition. Steven Dolins knows that Chicago still hosts a variety of young talents who feel committed to the tradition. So he wants to create a space for them to be heard and seen.
In the Sirens program you find albums like ,Heavy Timbre’ recorded with the original performers. Steven Dolins is proud to say that he has recorded that album in 1976 in the age of 19. Other albums like those of Barrelhouse Chuck present contemporary musicians who feel committed to the tradition of Chicago.
Of course Steven Dolins knows that even an independent label must operate profitably. A big advantage is the fact that he works with artists that are not necessarily profit-loss driven.
Steven Dolins tells a little story that concisely explains his motivation
I Took Earma Thompson to New York City to appear on Marian McPartland’s “Piano Jazz” program some years ago, and I explained my mission and vision for The Sirens Records to Marian. Marian responded by telling me it’s a much more worthwhile hobby than playing the horses; she meant I was not going to get rich from this endeavor. But for me, I see value in making the music accessible, making the musicians feel appreciated, and honoring the tradition. And I am stubborn and driven to make that happen.
I appraise that this likable man will continue exactly to do just that.