Classical lutenist Howard Bass has learned a lesson long known in the folk and bluegrass community: If a record company won't produce your record, make one yourself and sell it on your travels. After sensing little interest from classical labels ("they're not going to take a chance on something that might not sell much"), Bass formed his own company, Rosetree Records, and in June released "Fantasies, Ayres and Dances," with counter-tenor James Bowman. "I figured I'd go ahead on my own and see what would come out of it. It's a good calling card for future concerts."
Bass, who also teaches, has done quite well selling the record on the concert circuit (he'll perform renaissance and baroque lute music at the Community Cafe in Bethesda Thursday). The album, featuring the works of Dowland, Bach, Purcell and others, was recorded in Winchester's Handley Library and at the Bear's Den in Bluemont by Mike Rivers' Gypsy Studios. Rivers has recorded many of Washington's folk musicians from his mobile studio.
Bass performs once a week at the Smithsonian's musical instrument hall and books the Saturday Live concert series. He is also a caller at local contradances. "I've been folk dancing for seven years, and calling for the last two years . . . by accident. Somebody was needed one night and finally they hit on me; I was fool and said yes."