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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It’s the oldest form of music recording. Thomas Edison invented the phonograph recorder in 1877, and a local band recently made a historic studio recording using the relatively ancient method.
It’s a pairing nearly 150 years in the making as Louisville’s iconic Juggernaut Jug Band settles in for a history-making studio recording with equipment that doesn’t even run on electricity.
“It just gives me shivers to think how it must’ve felt,” Wyatt Markus said of the very first phonograph recording.
In a St. Matthews basement a few days before Christmas, a dozen curious minds and musicians gathered ‘round an ancient machine that took them way back to the very beginnings of sound recording.
“Hello! Hello! The Juggernaut Jug Band for the American Phonograph Society!” Markus shouts into the horn of a 117-year-old phonograph.
Markus is one of the last mechanical phonograph technicians in the world. He’s driven this Edison recorder from his workshop in Rochester, New York.
“This machine will record and replicate sound and this particular machine is from about 1905,” Markus explained.
Markus travels the country recording sound and music to wax cylinders just as it was done at the end of the 19th century. Each cylinder can record about two-and-half-minutes of sound.
In 1877, Thomas Edison invented the phonograph recorder. In 1965, Stu Roscoe “Goose” Helm co-founded the Juggernaut Jug band.
“We’ve just been really excited about this, well, this whole experience of how to get this down. That’s a first for all of us,” Goose said.
So over the course of a 4-hour session and for perhaps for the first time in history, the Juggernauts lay down a track on Edison wax.
The result is nothing less than the magic of time travel. “I’m basically here to show the world that this technology is very relevant,” Markus said.
You can find Wyatt Markus’ phonograph adventures of TikTok with the handle “Wyatt Saab."