APO Records To Receive Grandest Honor
APO Records and its founder, Chad Kassem, will receive the greatest recognition for non-musicians in the Blues industry the Blues Foundation's Keeping the Blues Alive award. Kassem will be presented the award for the Historic Preservation category at a banquet in the Gibson Guitar manufacturing plant in downtown Memphis on Sunday, Feb. 10. The Historic Preservation award dates back to 1989. Past winners include Alan Lomax, whose legendary field recordings introduced the world to Leadbelly and several other Blues heavyweights, and Larry Cohn of Sony/Legacy Records. The award's administrator, The Blues Foundation, has worked since 1980 to promote and preserve Blues music worldwide. In addition to the annual Keeping the Blues Alive awards, the Memphis-based foundation presides over the prestigious Handy Awards, which are second only to the Grammys for blues performers. Since his purchase in 1996 of a now 77-year-old church and his nearly $1 million restoration efforts to turn the sanctuary into a state-of-the-art-recording studio, Kassem has turned heads. The church has been renamed Blue Heaven Studios and has become a Blues Mecca of sorts in the unlikely spot of Central Kansas. Already, such legendary bluesmen as Honeyboy Edwards, Henry Townsend, Jimmie Lee Robinson, Hubert Sumlin and Wild Child Butler have recorded for APO Records at Blue Heaven. Kassem, a Lafayette, Louisiana native, came to Salina, Kansas in 1984 and turned his love for vinyl LPs into Acoustic Sounds, a mail-order business run part-time out of his apartment. It has grown to become the world's largest supplier of audiophile LPs. With profits from Acoustic Sounds, Kassem purchased the former First Christian Church initially for extra Acoustic Sounds storage space. It quickly was recognized to have absolutely astounding acoustics, and Kassem decided to blindly throw his money into a studio project. The end result was a studio that has been heavily praised by leading recording engineers, musicians, audiophiles and simply fans of aesthetics and music the world over. The old church still contains the original 400 pew seats on the main floor and balcony. Since its inception as a studio, Kassem had the idea to begin hosting live concerts. For the past four Octobers, The Blues Masters at the Crossroads concerts have sold out two consecutive nights. The shows have brought legends like Pinetop Perkins, Lazy Lester, Jimmy Rogers, Snooky Pryor, Carey Bell, Gatemouth Brown and so many more. Each year's concerts include about nine of the absolute living legends of the blues. This past October, fans came from as far as Europe to take part in this unique blues festival. APO films and records all of the performances. National media outlets including CBS, CNN, NPR and the Associated Press have featured Kassem, APO Records, Blue Heaven Studios and the musicians who've made the magic. The entire objective of APO Records and Blue Heaven Studios is to preserve the Blues through recordings of legendary musicians doing their music their way with the absolute finest sonic quality. APO is proud to announce this recognition.