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Compass Records Group Acquires Red House Records

Hoping to gain ground in the roots-music marketplace, Compass Records Group is acquiring Red House Records, the label group tells Billboard.

Nashville-based Compass Records has built a name for itself in recent years through its eclectic roster of talent, ranging from Colin Hay (Men at Work) to bluegrass luminary Bobby Osbourne. Red House, meanwhile, became synonymous with folk and Americana music with a steady stream of iconic releases during its 34 year history. In recent years it has been best known for helping launch Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams' careers as a duo , as well as fostering the next generation of roots talent in The Wailin' Jennys and The Cactus Blossoms.

Founded in 1994 by musician Alison Brown and producer Garry West, Compass sought the advice and guidance of Red House’s late Bob Feldman as the label became larger over time. First meeting at a conference in 1995, the trio found friendship and sounding boards amongst each other.

"Bob was always the most straightforward and would tell it like it was,” says West. “I have to admit it gave me a great feeling of accomplishment when, over time, Bob started calling me to compare notes."

"It's incredibly meaningful for us to be able to carry Red House's legacy into the future," says Brown. "We are really excited to work with such a fine roster of artists and are committed to keeping Red House's brand of folk and Americana music alive."

The sale comes on the heels of Feldman's death in 2006, which saw his widow Beth Friend take over operations of the label in his stead. Current plans call for Red House Records to be completely integrated into Compass Records Group's offices in Nashville, but at press time there was still no word on which Red House employees (if any) would be joining the Compass team.

Singer-songwriter John Gorka, whose next album is scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2018 on Red House Records, told Billboard: "I hope Red House will continue to be a great label, and I'll miss the people there.  I understand the economics and I think Compass is the best place to go.  Compass has a lot of artists I admire and respect, and I think Red House will be in good company.”

Established in 1983, Red House has received indie music awards, numerous GRAMMY nominations and a GRAMMY award for Ramblin’ Jack Elliot’s album, South Coast, in 1995.

Compass Records has over 600 titles in its catalog. Compass’ latest signings include NYC indie darling Elizabeth Ziman (Elizabeth and the Catapult) and rising bluegrass/Americana star Molly Tuttle. The Compass Records Group is also home to two seminal Irish catalogs, Green Linnet and Mulligan Records, both acquired in the mid-2000s.