Cavetone Records to celebrate 7 years


Katie Smith

Keri Cousins of Cavetone Records make buttons at her office table.

Cassie Buchman, Entertainment Editor

Bands will reunite and travel from all around the Midwest to perform at Cavetone Records’ “Seven Year Anniversary Spectacular” at 8 p.m. Friday at the Top of the Roc.

The doors will open at 7 p.m., and the concert has no cover charge.

Cavetone Records is a vinyl-only record label and an all-analog recording studio.

Scott Walus, founder of Cavetone Records, said the anniversary is celebrating the date of its first successful release, not when Cavetone Records was founded.

“We started in 2005, but our first successful release was March 2008,” Walus said.

Before his success, Walus encountered some failure in a record that did not work out.

“Anything that could go wrong did,” Walus said. “The place cut it at the wrong speed, really every issue you can think of.”

Cavetone started in Normal, then moved to Columbia, Mo., to Charleston.

Carrie and Scott Wallace pose with vintage microphones from their collection in their Charleston home, which also doubles as a local studio.
Katie Smith
Keri Cousins and Scott Walus pose with vintage microphones from their collection in their Charleston home, which also doubles as a local studio.

“It might seem like an odd choice to move the record label to Charleston, but it’s the best thing we’ve done,” Walus said. “Charleston is a weird little wonderful place.”

Because Charleston is a small city, people do not always know much about it, he said.

“People will be like, ‘Where’s Charleston? By Champaign?’” Walus said. “I’ll be like, no. Champaign’s by Charleston.”

Despite Charleston’s small size, it is still the only place Walus knows of that has a place like Cavetone Records.

“There’s nothing else like it to my knowledge, not just in Charleston or Illinois,” Walus said. “There are some places that do analog, but they’re pretty rare.”

A lot of what Walus does results from chasing what he calls a turning-up-the-stereo moment.

“The test of a good record, is that a record will sound like garbage quiet,” he said. “A good record will come together when it’s played loudly; if it’s bad, it will fall apart.”

Two of the bands, Pat Boone’s Farm and Wild Cat Daddies, are reuniting for the night.

“The thing about being in an original band, you always have to be fighting for a shot, have to be on 24 hours a day, deal with press,” Walus said. “Wild Cat Daddies was a labor of love; they got burned out, wanted to do new things.”

Pat Boone’s Farm members split up because their drummer went to Thailand.

“There’s no ill will in the bands, which is how they’re able to play together again,” he said.

Other bands playing include The Down-Fi.

Craig Willis Bell, a member of The Down-Fi, said he met Walus two years ago.

“He wants to keep records in old style,” he said.

Bell said he remembered how it was when he started out in the ‘70s, and Cavetone was kind of like that.

The Down-Fi was influenced by garage band and early “English-Invasion” era music.

Bell writes a lot of songs based on what he sees and does.

“I wrote a song about my first car,” Bell said. “It was the best love song I’ve ever written.”

Bell also writes songs about his wife, old girlfriends and his life in the army when he was drafted at the end of the Vietnam War.

Bell has a record label called Gustav he started in 1980.

“It’s really cool that he’d work with us even though he has a label of his own,” Walus said.

Coming from Chicago to the concert is Cedar Plank Salmon.

Tim Gurnig, the guitarist, said the band met Scott and started putting on shows together.

“We knew each other for two or three years; he recorded my band’s record,” Gurnig said.

Gurnig said Cedar Plank Salmon was planning on playing very loud music at the concert.

“We do rock ‘n’ roll stuff, we hope people just cover their ears,” he said. “I feel like it’s really brutally loud. I can’t wait.”

This is not the first time Cavetone has hosted an anniversary concert, and people always ask Walus what his plans are for his next concerts.

“People will be like, what are you doing for your eighth year?” he said. “I’m like, let me worry about our seventh year first.”

Past anniversary concerts have gone well, he said.

“It’s like 10 birthdays in one,” Walus said. “Except when you’re celebrating your birthday, it’s just like ‘I’m alive.’ With celebrating anniversaries, it means something; you actually had to work for it.”

This work is not taken for granted by Cavetone Records, he said.

“We’re still here not because of dumb luck, magic potion; we’re just good at doing the work,” Walus said.


Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].