ED Denson

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ED Denson (the capitalization of both letters in his first name is how he spells it, though it's still pronounced "Ed") has made notable contributions to folk, blues, and early San Francisco rock as a…
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ED Denson (the capitalization of both letters in his first name is how he spells it, though it's still pronounced "Ed") has made notable contributions to folk, blues, and early San Francisco rock as a manager, producer, and record label owner. He and his friend John Fahey were among the first fans to enthusiastically rediscover early country blues artists in the early '60s. Denson was road manager for Mississippi John Hurt, helped manage Bukka White, and produced recordings by Skip James. He would also produce some of Fahey's early recordings and run Takoma Records, Fahey's label.

Denson expanded his management activities into rock in the mid-'60s, when he was putting out a magazine, Rag Baby, with Country Joe McDonald. They decided to put a record in an issue, which featured two songs by folksinger Peter Krug, and two that McDonald recorded with several other musicians in a jug band style. Those two songs, "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag" and "Superbird," are the very first Country Joe & the Fish recordings, with some electric guitar and vocal contributions by Barry Melton. Melton would be the only other musician to play on the Fish's subsequent records, which would include full rock remakes of the two songs on the EP. Denson did play with Country Joe & the Fish on-stage once, and also played harmonica on one of Fahey's albums.

Denson managed Country Joe & the Fish for a while, as well as fellow San Francisco Bay Area rock band Joy of Cooking. In the early '70s, he started the folk label Kicking Mule with top acoustic guitarist Stefan Grossman. A longtime political activist, he became a lawyer in the late '90s. Since 1983, he has hosted folk and blues radio shows.