The Steam Powered Preservation Society tape collection

When I first noticed some of these tapes circulating on the internet around fifteen years ago, the Steam Powered Preservation Society hosted them on a FTP server. It appeared that Tut Taylor’s tape collection was in here. I sought after and found John Hartford tapes from the mid-1970s on their site.

Today, the SPPS collection is being meticulously archived in The Internet Archive’s collection: The Steam Powered Preservation Society. I’m seeing 187 tapes, or shows.

The Steam Powered Preservation Society (SPPS) was an educational / archival group that collected and restored old recordings of primarily Americana string band music in the bluegrass, old-time, and country music genres, and distributed material for educational and archival purposes only.

SPPS has J.D. Crowe tapes from mid-1975. When I talked about my taping and soundman experiences in the 1970’s, I always said J.D.'s band with Tony, Ricky, and Jerry in the mid-1970s was the best I ever heard and witnessed at that time. In case you missed it, this is the sheet.

SPPS Anonymous Cassette Tape #349
Transferred by Keith Kreider 02/05/2019
added to The Internet Archive on Sept 1, 2020

J.D. Crowe & The New South - McCabe’s Guitar Shop - Santa Monica, CA - Aug 15, 1975.

Cassette Tape #349 features a kick-ass August 15, 1975 performance by the classic incarnation of J.D. Crowe & The New South (J.D. Crowe-banjo, Tony Rice-guitar, vocals, Ricky Skaggs-mandolin, fiddle, vocals, Jerry Douglas-Dobro, & Bobby Slone-bass), at McCabe's Guitar Shop, Santa Monica, CA, soon after the release of their groundbreaking Rounder LP, "The New South". While the tape is labeled as also containing a 1963 performance by Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys, this material is not found.

Bluegrass/Newgrass doesn’t get much better than heard here.

This recording was originally made available by The Steam Powered Preservation Society, 501(c)3 at

The Seldom Scene was the other blockbuster bluegrass/newgrass band that played the big festivals back east. So I was seeing and hearing Seldom Scene and J.D. Crowe at these festivals in 1974 and 1975.

Seldom Scene members background

Each of the band members had a job during the week; Duffey repaired musical instruments, Eldridge was a mathematician, Starling a physician, Auldridge a graphic artist, and Gray a cartographer with National Geographic.

The progressive bluegrass style played by The Seldom Scene had become increasingly popular during the 1970s, especially Duffey’s high tenor and the vocal blend of Duffey/Starling/Auldridge. Their weekly shows included bluegrass versions of country music, rock, and even classical pop. The band’s popularity soon forced them to play more than once a week — but they continued to maintain their image as being seldom seen…

In 2021, “Todd” announced to Lossless Legs:

Feb 18: Hi everyone - happy Wednesday...

I would like to open up my Bluegrass Archive to the folks here at LL. Its available online at

June 14: Everything can be downloaded through your browser by going to Once there, click on the show you want, go INSIDE each folder and download the files you want (right-click, save as).

Sept 27: The Bluegrass Archive has grown to over 6TB and now includes Video. Thanks to everyone who continues to contribute. I’m adding about 50 shows per day so keep checking back often.

Happy pickin’…

I looked up Seldom Scene in The Bluegrass Archive just now. I found their sets from the Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival - Aug 17, 1974.

Seldom Scene - Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival - Aug 17, 1974
Early and late shows. This is the other sheet. Here is the text file.

HTML (web page) listing for the contents of The Bluegrass Archive.