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Shout! Factory acquires Hightone catalog

Shout! Factory has acquired the HighTone Records catalog.

Shout! Factory has acquired the HighTone Records catalog, according to an announcement made by Shout! Factory’s founding partners, Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos.

HighTone is a leading independent label specializing in American roots music, specifically country, rockabilly, blues, gospel, and western swing. Artists Include Buddy and Julie Miller, Tom Russell, Robert Cray, Dale Watson, Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

“We are longtime fans of HighTone Records and the artists in their catalog,” said Richard Foos, CEO of Shout! Factory. “HighTone has made an important contribution to the world of roots music. Larry and Bruce made lots of fantastic records and we’re proud to keep them alive at Shout! Factory. We will endeavor to promote the much lauded HighTone brand by releasing favorites from the extensive catalog beginning in August and by making the titles more widely available digitally.”

“In April 1983, I would not have believed that HighTone would go on to issue close to 300 albums or that we would have worked with so many talented artists,” said HighTone founder Larry Sloven. “It has been ultimately fulfilling and a lot of fun as well. Bruce and I feel that Shout! Factory is the perfect place for the HighTone catalog…to preserve it and make it available to an even wider audience of roots music fans.”

Co-owners Sloven and Bruce Bromberg formed HighTone in Oakland, Calif., in 1983. The pair had met in 1977 while Bromberg was working at Tomato Records. He also owned a label called Joliet Records, and both labels were distributed by Pacific and Tape Distributors, where Sloven was working at the time. A few years later, Bromberg was working with Robert Cray, producing Cray’s second album, Bad Influence. After pitching the album to labels such as Arista, Rounder and Alligator, Bromberg and Sloven decided to put it out themselves. HighTone Records was born.

After first releasing Cray’s album, then a number of other blues and gospel records, HighTone went on to release records of various genres, favoring styles that approached traditional music in a fresh way. Cray is an example of this, as helped the blues find a new audience with his combination of new and traditional elements. HighTone Records also includes the reissue imprint Testament, which has focused on classic blues artists. Following their love of country music, from early on HighTone’s founders wanted to focus on meaningful country music that was original, non-Nashville and left of center.

HighTone signed new artists, such as Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Robert Cray, Buddy and Julie Miller, Big Sandy, Dale Watson and Joe Louis Walker, and further developed the careers of already established artists who came to the label, like Dave Alvin, Tom Russell, Hank Thompson and Chris Smither. One such established artist signing was Joe Ely, who came to HighTone in 1986, at the very beginning of the Americana movement. The label’s Merle Haggard tribute Tulare Dust was the country’s first #1 Americana record.

Other country and Americana titles in Shout! Factory’s catalog include CDs such as Solomon Burke’s Nashville, Jessi Colter’s Out Of The Ashes, The Legends of Country CD box set and DVDs, such as "John Prine Live On Soundstage 1980," Cowboy Jack Clement's "Shakespeare Was A Big George Jones Fan," "Johnny Cash Christmas Special 1976 & 1977" and titles that continue to come out of a partnership with The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

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