Marfa Dialogues

Dominic Welhouse: In My Room

26 March 2004

Ballroom Marfa hosted Austin record collector Dominic Welhouse for a two-week residency called In My Room: Listening to Records in Marfa, Texas. Welhouse occupied the Ballroom’s south gallery space, playing records and talking about music in a truer-than-life living room, complete with sofa, comfy chairs, stereo, and a sizeable record collection. In his usual manner, Welhouse played whatever came to mind or was suggested by visitors. The residency ran from March 25th to April 5th, with many special guests popping in.

Dominic Welhouse was born in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, in 1969, the youngest of thirteen children. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1993, much to the relief of friends and family who had watched him devote most of his time and energy during his formative years to a job at an independently-owned record store in Appleton, Wisconsin, and radio shows he hosted in Menasha, Appleton, and finally Madison.

At some point in his late teens–“I was a late bloomer,” says Welhouse–45 rpm records took hold of him, and soon after picking up a copy of Link Wray’s “Rumble,” flipped with “The Swag,” at a St. Vincent de Paul store, he convinced his mother to empty the family cupboards to make room for his growing collection. In 1995 he and his records moved to Austin, Texas, where he immediately began scouring thrift stores, estate sales, and the world wide web intent on expanding his collection in the directions that made him happiest: the deepest soul and R and B (e.g., Garnet Mimms, Laura Lee), the saddest C & W (Vern Gosdin, George Jones), and the brightest pop melodies.

In 1999 Dominic started hosting “Platter Parties,” periodic listening sessions where collectors bring 7-inch vinyl selections to play for devotees at his home. The evenings, which invariably turn competitive, with each collector vying to contribute the most obscure yet irresistible records, are documented by Welhouse in the series 45 Archive, which currently includes 660 songs on 27 volumes. Commercially unavailable, the series is traded and hotly discussed by music cognoscenti.

The residency will run from March 25th to April 4th, with special guests expected throughout, and a rare public appearance by Lincoln, Nebraska record collector/musician Charlie Burton during the second weekend. The public is encouraged to stop in at any time and enjoy a little music in domestic comfort.