I’ve spent a good part of the day transferring VHS tapes of Austin City Limits shows to DVD. I taped the shows in the 80’s and the tape quality has deteriorated. Still, I want to get them into a format that will preserve them longer than the tape will. Eventually another medium will come along and if I’m still around I’ll transfer the shows again.
One of the shows I transferred today was Nanci Griffith in 1985. It was the first time I had seen her on television and the first time I had heard her songs. I have to say I was impressed. She seemed vulnerable standing there singing and playing her guitar, wearing a sunflower yellow dress. The songs became some of my favorites by her, and I started buying some of her back albums on vinyl. Looking back at the tape today I was surprised to see that the backup musicians included Mark O’Connor and Roy Husky Jr. Even more surprising was that one of the backup vocalists was Lyle Lovett. I didn’t realize the significance of that at the time.
Another of the shows was the Michael Martin Murphy Wild West show on Austin City Limits. He had Riders In The Sky, The Sons of the San Joaquin, and Don Edwards on the show with him. It was the first time I had seen and heard all of them except Riders In The Sky. I was already a fan of that group. There was a lot of great music on that show.
The other shows I transferred were with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Steve Goodman, and Kate Wolf. I started listening to Steve Goodman after I had seen him on a show named Made In Chicago which was a precursor to Soundstage. There have been a lot of great music shows on PBS.
While the video and audio quality of the tapes are not great, I am going to try to improve the audio. I’ll rip the audio tracks, run the tracks through Audacity software, and then try to make a new video marrying the old video with the new audio. I was able to do it successfully with a short video earlier this year, so I have high hopes. I just wish I was smart enough to try to improve he video quality.