Lyons ’81 Talks about Running Valid Records and the New Orleans Music Scene

Benjamin Lyons ’81

Benjamin Lyons ’81, who runs the independent label Valid Records, was recently interviewed by Dan Godston at Lyons talks about his early musical influences while growing up in Pennsylvania, his thoughts on the music scene in New Orleans, and running the record label.

Valid Records is dedicated to presenting the creative possibilities of the New Orleans music scene and has released recordings by artists such as Rob Wagner, Jonathan Freilich, and Hamid Drake.

The following is an excerpt from the interview:

Dan Godston: How did you get the idea to start Valid Records?

Benjamin Lyons: By the late ’90s, I was immersed in the “creative” or “free” music scenes in Chicago and New York. I started to make annual trips to the Chicago Jazz Festival and the Vision Festival in New York. I realized that among my friends there were some young talents with just as much to offer the world as many of the minor “names” I would hear elsewhere, but as long as they were stuck in New Orleans without exposure in the world, they would stagnate. My rather naïve idea was to help them get their work out. Also, I was interested in creating a higher standard of recording than most musicians I know were inclined to create on their own, either because of lack of funds or indifference to the recording process.

David Low

David Low '76 writes about arts and culture for the Wesleyan magazine and Wesleyan Connection. He is associate director of publications in the Office of University Communications. He is also a published fiction writer. E-mail: