First Look : The River Street Anthology

First Look : The River Street Anthology

Compilations and mixtapes seem to have lost the luster they once held. Mp3 players and digital media libraries were the first step, and now programs and websites like Pandora or Spotify are built around the idea of instant gratification and shuffled playlists, generated by an algorithm that thinks it knows what we want (no, Pandora, I didn’t want to hear Staind on my Alanis Morissette station.)

But the changing times haven’t stopped Matt Jones from compiling a massive dossier of Michigan music—the ultimate mixtape—with his latest undertaking, The River Street Anthology.

A verifiable history buff, Jones’s studies of the American past have had him poring over a wide array of carefully preserved documents.

“I wanted to preserve something,” says Jones. “Not a house, or a piece of land, but a snapshot of a time and place — and, more importantly, how it sounds.”

With a digital 8-track recorder and a single microphone, Jones has, at this point, tracked over 100 Michigan bands or musicians, and that number is steadily growing.

“I think this thing is going to top out around 200.”

Timothy Monger

I was fortunate enough to attend a day of recording sessions at Jones’s home in Ypsilanti. Performers and bands entered the drab basement with ambition, recorded a song, had their photo taken, and went on their way. Mostly Midwest veteran, and one of my personal favorite human beings, Timothy Monger came thru and played a brand new song — the song for songwriters — titled “Outside The Venue.”

Here is the first look into The River Street Anthology.

Jones is still figuring some things out, like how to release such an overwhelming collection of songs. He’s preparing a website that will act as a journal for every entry, containing information like lyrics, inspiration for the song, and a photograph of the performer(s).

When the dust settles and everything is wrapped up, Jones hopes to have The River Street Anthology preserved in The Library of Congress. Check back on Mostly Midwest throughout the summer and fall for more updates and video sessions from The River Street Anthology.