By the time Lou Curtiss opened his shop in 1967, the city’s country & folk music venues were closing, one by one. He was bent on capturing every bit of the scene he could and cramming them into his tiny shop — recordings, ephemera, even the artists themselves with live performances.
“You’d have to search through a stack of 78s that you thought was holding up his room at one point,” said musician Gregory Page. “And you’re thinking, is this thing going to come down on me? Because it was really held together by all of this shellac & vinyl, this crickedy, old record shop.”
Page started going to Folk Arts in the '90s to discover new music and found a mentor in Lou.
“If you ever needed to find me, and I wasn’t answering my phone, and I wasn’t at home, I was probably at that record shop,” he said. “I spent a lot of time there with Lou. And there was a lot of stories, but mostly there was a lot of listening and letting the music tell the story. That’s what brought Lou so much gratification and so much joy, to be able to share this music with whoever was there listening". Footage he shot of one of these listening sessions shows Lou with a constant smile, his eyes studying Page's reaction before settling into a joyful gaze. Page said that sharing was a political act, in and of itself — an outlook born out of the labor and civil rights movements, and put into the songs Lou loved.“There’s an inclusiveness in folk music that I’ve always been fascinated with — I mean the whole, join hands and let’s sing along,” ~ Megan Burks, KPBS