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About

Tradition and Innovation

Yellow Dog Records was founded in 2002 in Memphis, TN, with the goal of cultivating the American musical heritage. The label features artists who emphasize innovative approaches to authentic American musical roots traditions — Blues, Jazz, Soul, Americana, and Folk styles. By providing support for recording, production, promotion and distribution, Yellow Dog Records brings this vital music to new and wider audiences.

Yellow Dog albums and artists have been nominated for over forty Blues Music Awards and Independent Music Awards, and in 2016 the label was recognized with the Keeping the Blues Alive award, the Blues Foundation‘s highest honor for “individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to blues music”.

The Name “Yellow Dog Records”

The name “Yellow Dog Records” is inspired by the Yellow Dog railroad and its role in American music history.

The Yazoo / Delta railroad was a small rail line running through the heart of the Mississippi delta in the early 1900s. It was popularly known as the “Yellow Dog” for reasons that are not known for certain today, although possible reasons include yellow-painted rail cars, labor disputes, and a yellow dog who used to run up and down the tracks barking at the train. According to some stories, folk legend John Henry helped to build the Yellow Dog railroad.

References to the Yellow Dog appear in early blues songs by Charlie Patton, Lucille Bogan, and Big Bill Broonzy. But its most famous reference is given in the autobiography of W.C. Handy. In it, he described an incident in 1903 at a train station in Tutwiler, MS, where he heard an old man playing guitar with a knifeblade and singing over and over again, “Goin’ where the Southern cross the Dog”. The man’s singing was answered by the moaning sound of the knife sliding across the metal strings of the guitar.

Handy, a classically trained composer, had never heard anything like it before and was awestruck. He later wrote that it was “the weirdest music I’d ever heard.” Handy was so affected by this rural form of music that he incorporated it into compositions including “Memphis Blues”, “Saint Louis Blues”, and “Yellow Dog Blues”, which were instrumental in bringing blues styles to popular attention.

What they’re saying

There are a lot of really good imprints out there, but Yellow Dog is one of the most unique, always a beacon of quality, intelligence, and innovation… Every single disc is a winner, well chosen, lovingly presented.

—Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange

Yellow Dog Records
2017-10-19T14:49:40+00:00

—Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange

There are a lot of really good imprints out there, but Yellow Dog is one of the most unique, always a beacon of quality, intelligence, and innovation… Every single disc is a winner, well chosen, lovingly presented.
These guys are making music the way it ought to be, focusing on timeless quality and soul instead of following the latest trends… merging old sounds with new ideas to create uniquely captivating sounds.

—OEbase

Yellow Dog Records
2017-10-19T14:50:09+00:00

—OEbase

These guys are making music the way it ought to be, focusing on timeless quality and soul instead of following the latest trends… merging old sounds with new ideas to create uniquely captivating sounds.
There is one thing I have grown to know. When a package comes in the mail bearing the seal of Yellow Dog Records, good things are hidden within.

—The Chattanoogan

Yellow Dog Records
2017-10-19T14:35:35+00:00

—The Chattanoogan

There is one thing I have grown to know. When a package comes in the mail bearing the seal of Yellow Dog Records, good things are hidden within.
Yellow Dog remains my best source of good, true, Blues music.

—Thomas Greener, KVMR

Yellow Dog Records
2017-10-19T17:03:40+00:00

—Thomas Greener, KVMR

Yellow Dog remains my best source of good, true, Blues music.
My experience with the blues goes back more than 35 years --as a listener, historian, musician, writer and radio producer. I am absolutely blown away by what you are doing at Yellow Dog and love your take on music.

—Frank Matheis, WVKR

Yellow Dog Records
2017-10-19T17:03:15+00:00

—Frank Matheis, WVKR

My experience with the blues goes back more than 35 years --as a listener, historian, musician, writer and radio producer. I am absolutely blown away by what you are doing at Yellow Dog and love your take on music.
I have yet to find a release from Yellow Dog Records that I haven't gotten excited over.

—Gregory Johnson, President, Cascade Blues Association

Yellow Dog Records
2017-10-19T17:01:46+00:00

—Gregory Johnson, President, Cascade Blues Association

I have yet to find a release from Yellow Dog Records that I haven't gotten excited over.
Although this is a cautious time for the CD biz, a few hip labels have dived into the new-dirty-blues fray. Yellow Dog is doing its part with a hybrid R&B of the Soul of John Black, the string band Asylum Street Spankers, and powerhouse soul groovers the Bo-Keys.

—The Boston Phoenix

Yellow Dog Records
2017-10-19T17:02:43+00:00

—The Boston Phoenix

Although this is a cautious time for the CD biz, a few hip labels have dived into the new-dirty-blues fray. Yellow Dog is doing its part with a hybrid R&B of the Soul of John Black, the string band Asylum Street Spankers, and powerhouse soul groovers the Bo-Keys.
Some of today’s best blues and Americana performers…

—Voice of America

Yellow Dog Records
2017-10-19T14:49:09+00:00

—Voice of America

Some of today’s best blues and Americana performers…
I can't tell you enough how blown away I was by these two CDs. They are both filled with traditional Blues, performed in fresh original ways, without losing the spirit of the originators… If [the next releases] are even near the quality of these two, I think I'd buy them without needing to hear them first.

—P.W. Fenton, Bluesland

Yellow Dog Records
2017-10-19T17:04:19+00:00

—P.W. Fenton, Bluesland

I can't tell you enough how blown away I was by these two CDs. They are both filled with traditional Blues, performed in fresh original ways, without losing the spirit of the originators… If [the next releases] are even near the quality of these two, I think I'd buy them without needing to hear them first.

Hear what all the fuss is about

OK, so now you’ve read the plaudits. You know the history. But it’s supposed to be about the music, man! It’s all right here.

Listen Here

The fourth album in our sampler series compiles some of our favorite cuts by Yellow Dog artists.

Upcoming Shows

Fri 12/29/17   Portland, OR
Mary Flower - Secret Society Ballroom

Sat 1/27/18   Sebastopol, CA
Mary Flower - Sebastopol Guitar Festival

Thu 5/17/18   North Little Rock, AR
Mary Flower - Argenta Arts Acoustic Music Series

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