Based in Memphis, TN, Yellow Dog Records was founded in 2002 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, and Americana styles. By providing support for recording, production, promotion and distribution, Yellow Dog Records brings this vital music to new and wider audiences.
“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
“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
“Some of today’s best blues and Americana performers…” —Voice of America
“I have yet to find a release from Yellow Dog Records that I haven’t gotten excited over.” —Gregory Johnson, President, Cascade Blues Association
“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
“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
“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 remains my best source of good, true, Blues music. ” —Thomas Greener, KVMR
“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
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.