If vinyl is back, can shellac be far behind? Not if the 16 or so members of SwUKEsrta have anything to do with it.
One of Delaware County’s premier ukulele ensembles, SwUKEsrta has just signed a multi-record deal with Polymer Records of Woonsocket, R.I. “This is just the beginning for these guys, even though some of them are kind of old,” said Polymer vice president of artists and repertoire Artie Fufkin. “But that’s OK – our records sound kind of old too.”
SwUKEsrta will be one of the first bands signed to Polymer’s Old & Scratchy brand, which distributes music recorded straight to metal masters and pressed into 78 RPM shellac records. “We have to play fast, because the recording capacity of each side of the record is only about two and a half minutes,” said band spokesman and Swarthmore mayor Tim Kearney. “We’re fortunate to have veteran pro musicians like Jerry Getz, Tommy Pinto and Jim Ericson to keep us in rhythm and on pitch, although you really can’t tell from the records.”
Despite its poor audio quality and the inconvenience of its heavy, brittle discs and windup players with thorn needles, the 78 RPM format is the cat’s pajamas among college students and hipsters, some of whom install car Victrolas in their ironic 1970s station wagons.
Polymer’s Artie Fufkin said: “Their brand of music fits right in with what the kids today want to hear,” Fufkin said. “They’re gonna make us a lot of money. At least I hope so. Or we’re gonna drop the SwUKEsrta like a bad habit.”
SwUKEsrta plays tonight, First Friday and April Fools’ Day, at Hobbs Coffee at 1 Park Avenue. Showtime is 6 p.m., but plan to arrive early, because the full ensemble takes up considerable real estate.