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Omnivore Acquires Reggae Label Nighthawk and Soul Label Ru-Jac

Founded in 2010, the Grammy® Award-winning Omnivore Recordings, a record label not bound by genre, era, or style, but dedicated to the discovery and preservation of music old and new, is proud to announce the acquisition of both the reggae label Nighthawk Records and soul/R&B label Ru-Jac Records.

Omnivore has acquired rights to the master catalogs, as well as the respective publishing catalogs of each. Omnivore co-founder/partner Cheryl Pawelski said, “We are so pleased to be the custodians of these wonderful recordings and songs. It is deeply meaningful to all at Omnivore to be entrusted with the preservation of these labels so we may introduce new audiences to the music they hold.”

Initial releases from these acquisitions include Full Time by Gladiators and the previously unissued Ethiopian & His All Stars album The Return of Jack Sparrow, both via Nighthawk, on December 15, 2017, and Something Got a Hold on Me: The Ru-Jac Records Story Vol. 1, 1963–1964, on January 19, 2018.

Nighthawk Records

St. Louis reggae label Nighthawk Records was co-founded in 1976 by Robert Schoenfeld in a close partnership with musician and producer Leroy Jodie Pierson. Originally a label dedicated to post-World War II blues compilations, Nighthawk shifted its focus solely to reggae by 1980, issuing albums by genre greats like Justin Hinds, Gladiators, The Itals, Albert Griffiths, Winston Jarrett and the Ethiopian. Nighthawk nearly made it into the 21st century, but ran out of steam in the late ’90s.

Omnivore will reissue the Nighthawk catalog, adding bonus tracks where available and remastering from original master tapes starting in December and continuing until the entire catalog has been restored, including previously unissued albums. All releases are being co-produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Cheryl Pawelski and Nighthawk co-founder Leroy Jodie Pierson. Pierson, who often contributed liners notes to the original releases, will update or supplement his original notes with new information and will share photos and ephemera from his archive. Grammy Award-winning engineer Michael Graves will handle mastering and restoration.

Says Pierson, “I’m thrilled to be involved in the revival of Nighthawk Records and in the production of forthcoming Omnivore Recordings issues and reissues from Nighthawk’s small, but important reggae and blues catalogs. In the early 1980s I supervised studio sessions, compiled albums, wrote liner notes and took photographs for the label. My time spent in Kingston, Jamaica with legendary artists like The Gladiators, Culture, the Ethiopian, The Itals and Justin Hinds remains the source of enduring inspiration and personal pride.”

In addition to the master catalog for Nighthawk Records, Omnivore Music Publishing has also acquired the accompanying Blackheart Music Publishing catalog.

“Band Your Belly” by Ethiopian & His All Stars, and the Bob Marley cover “Fussing And Fighting” by Gladiators, are streaming now. Full albums available December 15.

Ru-Jac Records
The Baltimore soul/R&B label Ru-Jac Records was founded in 1963 by local promoter Rufus Mitchell and investor partner Jack Bennett (their names forming the Ru-Jac name). The label primarily released regional soul/R&B singles from 1963 until the mid 1970s, when Mitchell stepped away to focus on another business venture. Omnivore has already released albums by two of the label’s biggest names, Winfield Parker – Mr. Clean: Winfield Parker at Ru-Jac (Parker also serves as the consulting producer for all of Omnivore’s Ru-Jac releases) and Gene & Eddie – True Enough: Gene & Eddie With Sir Joe at Ru-Jac.

In January, Omnivore will roll out four various-artists volumes, collecting for the very first time anywhere the audio history of Ru-Jac Records. Kevin Coombe, series co-producer and East Coast soul historian, provides liner notes detailing the rise and eventual closure of the label, and its close ties to the then-segregated beaches and performance spaces of the region. Rare photos and ephemera will be included in each volume to help illustrate and trace the history of the label.

January 19:
  • Various Artists – Something Got a Hold on Me: The Ru-Jac Records Story Volume 1, 1963–1964 (CD/Digital)
  • Various Artists – Get Right: The Ru-Jac Records Story Volume 2, 1964–1966 (CD/Digital)
February 2:
  • Various Artists – Finally Together: The Ru-Jac Records Story Volume 3, 1966–1967 (CD/Digital)
  • Various Artists – Changes: The Ru-Jac Records Story Volume 4, 1967–1980 (CD/Digital)

Omnivore Music Publishing has also acquired the accompanying publishing catalogs for Ditty Bopand Ru-Jac Publishing.

All releases have been produced and compiled by Pawelski and Coombe, with mastering and restoration by Graves. Ru-Jac artist Winfield Parker, serves as the consulting producer and is helping oversee the projects.

Streaming now, tracks from the four Ru-Jac Records releases: “Crying Won’t Help You” by The Teardrops Band featuring Marie Allen (from Volume 1), “Chicken Wings” by Mask Man & the Cap-Tans (from Volume 2), “Do the Roller” by Leon Gibson (from Volume 3) and “Keep Off the Grass” byDynamic Corvettes (from Volume 4). Full albums available January 19 and February 2, 2018.