I have officially been researching Bloodshot Records since I took a class in radical American history with the nicest rising scholar/rock star I’ve ever met. She was kind and supportive, and stretched the range of the final paper project to let me write a paper about cowpunk and alternative country music. It was in this paper that I first wrote about Bloodshot’s first album, For a LIfe of Sin (1994), and revisited a lot of music and bands I listened to, well, back in the ’90s.
It wasn’t until late Fall 2010 (after finishing comps) and early Spring 2011 that it became clear that the focus of my dissertation would be Bloodshot Records. In the summer of 2011, I went to Chicago knowing absolutely no one — certainly no one associated with the record label. Times have changed, of course. Last week, I was in Austin, TX, for SXSW, sold merch for Bloodshot at their two events, and was really happy to see some friends/acquaintances I know from my time in Chicago. Having spoken with at least twelve of their current/former artists and musicians, and having spent a not insignificant amount of time in the Bloodshot office, I shouldn’t be surprised when I meet someone and, after explaining myself (who I am, why I’m there, working on a project on Bloodshot, etc.), that I’ve heard “Oh, right, I’ve heard about you.”
Once the folks at Bloodshot agreed to talk to me for my project, I found myself doing some extensive ethnography; interviewing and meeting a lot of folks, and in turn, interviewing and meeting a lot MORE folks. With all this interaction with Real Live People, my project became muchmuchmuch more ethno than I ever imagined it would be. I’ve always thought of myself as a musicologist, and for the most part, I still do. Even though it seems like my project fits in with Ethnomusicology more than Musicology, I still don’t think I’m at a point to use capital-E ethnomusicologist to describe myself. And I’m not sure it really matters right now.
Nevertheless, regardless of what disciplinary naming convention I follow, I am certain my dissertation will be much more interesting because of the words of these talented and interesting folks, and my interactions with them. Added bonus? The research has been fun, interesting, and helped me to grow (figuratively 🙂 ) as a person and scholar.