Lou Curtiss
Sunday July 12th, 2020
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Oh Brother, Here We Are ... Been Here All Along, at Least for Now

Well, as I'm sitting here today and writing this column, the verdict is still out on my future. I've owned the Folk Arts Rare Records business for 37 years and for the past 27, it's been located at 3611 Adams Ave., where I also make my home with my wife Virginia and my son Ben.

Folk Arts Rare Records began as a home place for the yearly folk festivals I've put together since 1967 and has remained that way to this day. (The roots festivals grew out of the old folk festivals, which were held at SDSU from 1967-1987.) Folk Arts is a venue for those who like and love and collect old-time music, whether it's country and bluegrass, blues, jazz, traditional folk, Cajun, Irish, rhythm and blues, or old rock and roll. If it's rare and old, I very possibly have it, or know about it, or can get it. Along with selling old records (mostly LPs, 45s, and 78s), I also sell vintage music on tape and CD from my 90,000-hour personal collection. I host a weekly radio show called Jazz Roots on KSDS (88.3 FM), write liner notes for CDs on the England-based Country Routes label, and I put together customized music tapes from personal histories. Mostly, I put people in touch with their roots in one way or another.

My landlord has put the Folk Arts Rare Records property up for sale, so my home and business at 3611 Adams Ave. may have to move. I really don't want to. In fact, I don't think I can. With rents as they are, I can't afford two different places for my home and business, and it's unlikely that I'll find a location for both that's affordable to me. People tell me there ought to be someone out there who will let me stay where I am. You'd think so, but so far no one has come forward. The people I notice eyeing the property look more like tear-down-and-build-some-thing-new types. I hope I'm wrong and a buyer shows up who will allow me to keep doing what I'm doing.

Another problem with moving is my involvement with the Adams Ave. Roots Festival and the Adams Ave. Street Fair. If I no longer have a business on Adams Ave., my involve¬ment with these two events would most likely be curbed. So, folks, I'm in a fix. I'm a little scared and feel a iittle bit picked on. I've been a good tenant for 27 years at this location. I've put a wife and son through college and graduate school (though much of that was their own doing ... they're both just so darn smart), and I guess I know more about the kinds of music and related topics I'm inter¬ested in than most people have time to be. I care about San Diego and the individuals who have made their way playing just about every kind of music here. I hope I can continue to help preserve these kinds of things for a long time to come. I do care, but it's kind of depressing to think about moving my collection and the Folk Arts stock to any old place that has room. You'd think that after the nice piece in the Union-Tribune and Larry Himmel's Channel 8 spot cov¬ering my plight, someone would come up with an idea to keep me here, but no one has. Oh, a lot of people tell me they saw the article in the newspaper or on TV and they wanted to come in before I close. That makes me feel real good. I'm trying not to be bitter and I can't let depression set in before there's a reason, but I can't just sit still and do nothing except think about the fix I'm in. So I'm doing one of the things I can do right now. I'm writ¬ing about it and sharing it with some of you who have known me awhile and maybe with some of you who haven't. What can you do, you ask yourselves? You can call the city, call the Adams Ave. Business Association and ask about the roots festival; you can call somebody who has the clout to make Folk Arts a his¬toric landmark. Or, even better, you can buy the property and let me stay. That's what I would do if I could afford it.

Lou Curtiss

Return to 2004 Adams Avenue Roots Festival Page

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