Thursday, 29 November 2012

Wolfgang's Vault

Wolfgang's Vault is a private music-focused company established in 2003.  It's dedicated to the restoration and archiving of live concert recordings in audio and video format and the sale of music memorabilia. The  concept began with the collection of the late promoter Bill Graham who died in a helicopter crash in 1991.  Other music and memorabilia archives have been added since.   It was called "the most important collection of rock memorabilia and recordings ever assembled in one business," by The Wall Street Journal on December 13, 2005.
In Wolfgang’s Vault, you’ll find a number of recordings of Van Morrison live in concert.  One of the recordings attracting most attention is his Cyprus Avenue from the September 23, 1970 concert at the Fillmore East.  It's a wonderfully unique eight-and-a-half-minute rendition.  Those who have seen Morrison perform live in any era tend to describe it as an experience highly distinct from hearing him sing on record, and ultimately a necessary one for those seeking to fully appreciate his work. These archived concert videos are must for any fan and can be watched for free.   

The name Wolfgang's Vault is drawn from the iconic concert promoter Bill Graham's real name.  He was born Wolodia Grajonca in Berlin in 1931.  He was known as 'Wolfgang'.  Eventually he escaped Nazi Germany to grow up in a foster home in the Bronx and changed his name at the age of 18.

He moved to San Francisco where he became one of the leading figures associated with the music of the 1960s.  He also began to collect footage of the artists he promoted.   

Beginning in the late ‘60s, Graham recorded thousands of performances, which he stored on tapes in the basement of the Bill Graham Presents headquarters. Bill Sagan acquired these archives in 2003, and had the tapes restored and digitised for presentation on the Concert Vault of audio recordings. In February 2006, Wolfgang’s Vault launched Vault Radio to allow fans of the music to hear some of these recordings. In an article about Vault Radio, the Washington Times noted “lovers of classic rock will not find a better historical source for their favourite music anywhere on the Internet.”Small wonder, then, that the internet archive which bears his name contains so much compelling vintage concert footage. Browse it by performer, and you’ll spot many of the names you’d expect to: Jefferson Airplane, The Band, The Grateful Dead. But dig even deeper and you’ll find real surprises, like Yoko Ono playing Giants Stadium in 1986 and a vast cache of songs, captured on thrillingly lo-fi video, performed by visually pioneering and media-satirising new wave band The Tubes. An afternoon spent in Wolfgang’s Vault makes a fine primer on the most enduring rock played in Graham’s heyday, but also yields some delightfully odd performances you’d never expect to see today.

Offering memorabilia at the site launched in 2003 and includes photography, vintage poster art, rock clothing, vintage audio concert recordings. The Video Vault was added in 2011.

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