Tom Waits and Preservation Hall Jazz Band release limited-edition 78RPM record and matching limited edition record-player

Tom Waits and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band recorded a pair of songs to benefit the Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program and they're releasing them as a limited-edition 78RPM album. Donate $200 and you can get a gorgeous, custom 78RPM record player to go with it (alas, the first-day sales are limited to in-person customers at Preservation Hall in NOLA, and I'm guessing everything will be snapped up for eBay resale by the time the official online sales open up the next day).

I'm really interested in the creative use of premium physical objects that trade on the value of digital art. It seems to me that the more widely copied and well-loved a digital piece is, the more the limited physical premium will be. Alas, many of the physical premiums offered by bands and authors and so on look like they came out of a Skymall catalog. But stuff like this, well, it's so far in my sweet spot that I'm wondering if I can get back to NOLA for the sale.

Mr. Waits traveled to New Orleans in 2009 to record two songs with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for the critically acclaimed project Preservation: An album to benefit Preservation Hall and the Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program, "Tootie Ma Was A Big Fine Thing" , and "Corrine Died On The Battlefield". Originally recorded by Danny Barker in 1947, these two selections are the earliest known recorded examples of Mardi Gras Indian chants.

The two tracks will now be packaged in a special limited edition 78 rpm format record, each signed and numbered by Preservation Hall Creative Director Ben Jaffe. The first one hundred records will be accompanied by a custom-made Preservation Hall 78rpm record player as part of a Deluxe Donation package. The remaining four hundred and four will be available as a standalone record for the Basic Donation package.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band & Tom Waits On 78 rpm Vinyl (

Tom Waits Releases 78 RPM Record and Player (

(Thanks, Stuart, via Submitterator!)


  1. “The remaining 404 will be available as a standalone record… ”

    Surely there’s a joke in there someplace…

    1. The number actually comes from 504 – 100 = 404, where 504 is the telephone area code for metro New Orleans.

      In other news, I think I’ll be firing off an email to a friend right now.

    1. Line out… That’s an interesting question. A respectable 78RPM turntable that can be used with other equipment is itself worth a few bucks.

      (I actually have a turntable which claims to do 78RPM; I need to get a proper stylus for it.)

  2. It’s been suggested that Tom Waits is the Vanilla Ice of gritty bluesy music. I can’t get that image out of my head. Curse you Vanilla Waits!

    Sweet record player though. Good thing “Hoarders” has helped cure my impulsive record collecting.

    1. It is a hilarious mental image, but time has pretty clearly sorted out which one is the better artist.

    2. Right, because Vanilla Ice was such a committed, dynamic, experimental, unpredictable and interesting artist who somehow kept a boatload of artistic integrity throughout his long career.

  3. Ah, Mr Waits has explored that old “78 sound” before:

    …and IMHO it has a great feel to it. Like something only half-heard, while wondering through an old-time Fair midway, or Carnival, or circus.
    Beautiful and evocative.

  4. Am I weird for being fascinated by record players? I had one as a kid and it wasn’t anything special. But to this day, I wish I had it back along with all of my records.

  5. And if that is a Crosby record player you can count on it within the first week playing at a variety of speeds besides 78 like 44 or 33 or 23 or 82, all within the same song!

  6. unfortunately that record player looks like the same crappy “retro” one i’ve seen in target for about $80 – good for the money i guess… you want line out? try this – – they go for about $100 (not a hoarder here, just a fanatical record dude!)

  7. I had a yard sale last month and sold a bunch of my older, less liked vinyl, and did surprisingly well. In fact a 10-year old kid came up and was excited to buy records! The death of vinyl never happened. There even seems to be some evidence that cassettes are coming back! Nobody knows what the future holds.

  8. A record player that plays the one record that comes with it.

    To me, that is excess packaging. Vastly, ridiculously, insanely excess packaging.

    The words “not big, not clever, not funny” come to mind.


  9. Wonder how many people will ruin these records by using a “microgroove” (new-style vinyl) stylus instead of the proper old-style stylus.

  10. Tempting offer. Unfortunately, for 78rpm discs I only have a Columbia gramophone. I have a feeling that the heavier arm/stylus and soft metal needles would quickly ruin the modern vinyl disc. Your thoughts?

  11. Hmm, I just noticed that it says “78 RPM vinyl” and not shellac. Cosmoski brings up a good point: what would be the right needle to play this album? According to, newer vinyl promotional 78s should use a microgroove needle.

    If it’s made of vinyl and uses microgrooves would it still have that distorted 78 RPM sound? Or is it basically a 10″ single you play at 78 RPM instead of 45, with artificially distorted sound?

  12. I’m guessing that the record plays with a microgroove stylus. I’m basing that on the picture of the phonograph which is playing an LP and does not appear to have a two sided stylus (like my Magnavox Stereophonic Hi-Fi which hopefully will be playing this record if my friend comes through).

    When I was a kid we had a phonograph like this (may have been Fischer-Price) and it played 33,45 & 78 rpm. We’d play some old family 78s on it and they never seemed worse for wear (until we dropped or stepped on them and broke them. Good-bye Bridget O’Flynn, Steve O’Donnell’s Wake and a couple of other favorites).

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