Melissa Shatto Baltimore Bands Collection
Scope and Contents
This collection contains silent Super 8mm films, scanned photographs, and video interviews that document the history surrounding Baltimore area bands in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Series 1 of this collection consists of eleven silent Super 8mm films created by Melissa Shatto between 1989 and 1991. Shatto documented her friends performing music. Footage consists of Baltimore bands, the All Mighty Senators, Jade, Cloaca, as well as D.C. band, Jawbox. The performances took place at the Grog and Tankard, Playschool, Hour Haus, and unidentified venues. The music included punk, grunge, rock, post-punk, funk-punk, and more. The collection includes four K-mart film processing envelopes.
Series 2 of this collection consists of digital video interviews and scanned photographs. Melissa Shatto, Joe Tropea, Shirlé Hale-Koslowski, and Landis Expandis were interviewed in 2021 by Joana Stillwell, MARMIA's AV Archivist. The oral histories contain biographical information pertaining to each individual's activities in Baltimore in the 1990s, and contain commentary on the films as they watched them through a shared screen in the video interview. The oral histories inform the arrangement and description of this collection.
The scanned photographs are from the 1990s and include headshots and candid photos of Melissa Shatto, Joe Tropea, Shirlé Hale-Koslowski, Landis Expandis, Dave Lackland, Warren Boes, Ben Watson, Amanda Pollock, Kyle Ranson, Billy Marshall, Dave Ferraro, Jason Leppo, Spoon Popkin, and Brett Sharbaugh.
- 1989 - 2021
Conditions Governing Access
Local access is restricted due to the amount of staff available. Local research is available for a fee and must be scheduled far in advance. Access to digitized reproductions of materials is available for free online. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Conditions Governing Use
MARMIA allows and encourages free non-commercial use of material in which we own the rights. We license for commercial use to support our ongoing work. Please consult the archive regarding what specific conditions constitute non-commercial use or if you wish to use the footage commercially.
Biographical / Historical
The co-creators of this collection include:
Melissa Shatto is the creator and donor of the films. She is a visual artist and music enthusiast who has always felt compelled to document and record moments and events. "For a while in the 90's, I would shoot with a noisy little battery operated Super 8 camera at home, at friends, and at music venues. Baltimore had such a passionate, raw music scene then, often incorporating elements of performance art. The look of film seemed more appropriate than slick, glossy video, unfortunately my camera didn't have any sound. I was a starving artist, like everyone else, and never found a camera with audio capabilities at the thrift store."*
Joe Tropea has been the Curator of Film and Photographs at the Maryland Center for History and Culture (MCHC) since 2012 and was the initial custodian of the films. He started at MCHC in 2005, working part time in the Special Collections department while earning an MA in Public History from UMBC. He is also a filmmaker and musician. He began playing bass and guitar in Baltimore area bands in the 1989 and continued playing in bands until 2010. Tropea went to and played shows, and toured regularly throughout the 1990s into the early 2000s.*
Shirlé Hale-Koslowski was the founding member of Womyn Of Destructions (WOD), Baltimore's first Riot Grrrl Band (unknowingly so) in 1991. She has been a musician since a very young age, and attended Boston’s Berklee College of Music, playing alongside of Mary Lou Lord in the early 80’s where the two dorm mates were busking weekly. She moved to Baltimore in 1989 with her then band, False Face Society, then began WOD in 1991. In 1993, she started the three piece band, Gerty, named for Baltimores Gertude Stein (the first woman to attend Johns Hopkins University). She then moved to Chapel Hill, NC 1998 with her partner, David Koslowski where they created bands such as Ex-Members (with Melissa York of The Butchies, Team Dretsch, Amy Ray), and Free Electric State. They then moved back to Baltimore in 2012 to open a Record Store Cafe, Baby’s On Fire (named for a Brian Eno song) that they run to this day. Shirlé has been a personal chef for the last 21 years and is the executive chef at the cafe.*
Landis "Expandis" McCord is a multimedia artist that came to Baltimore in the 1980s to study painting. During that time, he founded the band, the All Mighty Senators and toured extensively as their lead vocalist and song writer while also being the drummer known for standing up while playing. He has been straddling the line of music and art ever since. Because of the All Mighty Senator's early success, he temporarily paused his art education, and in 2017 earned a degree in digital design. His education as a graphic designer gave him the skills necessary to create most of his marketing material and images, as well as those for other area bands and performances.*
Joana Stillwell is MARMIA's AV Archivist, the oral history interviewer, processing archivist, and finding aid author. Stillwell is a visual artist and a Master of Library and Information Science student at the Univeristy of Maryland. Processing this collection and conducting the oral histories informed her practicum project which fulfilled requirements for her to graduate in December 2021. This collection was chosen for this project based on Stillwell's interest in artist-made records.
*The interviewee biographies were sourced and edited from each individual's oral history agreement with MARMIA. Interviewees responded to "Biography (this could include professional history, personal history, or any information about your connection to the Mid-Atlantic's audiovisual history and the topics discussed in the interview)."
11 Films: Super 8mm : silent, color
4 Files : digital video oral histories
22 Files : Scanned color and black and white photographs
4 Sheets : 4 K-mart film processing envelopes
Language of Materials
The films were received from the donor in two reels compiled from eleven individual original film reels. Compilation reels were created by Joe Tropea and Skizz Cyzyk for a screening event on December 27th, 2016 at 2640 Space in Baltimore, for which they maintained the order in which Joe Tropea had received the films from Melissa Shatto. The intellectual arrangement of the collection in the finding aid maintains this order, and the physical films are now housed in eleven archival film canisters.
The digital video oral histories are arranged chronologically. Digital photographs are arranged with their corresponding oral history.
In 2015, Melissa Shatto sent eleven silent Super 8mm films to Joe Tropea at the Maryland Center for History and Culture (MCHC). Tropea was working on an exhibition of work by photographer, Joe Kohl which prompted Shatto to think that MCHC would be a good repository for the films.
Tropea hosted a screening event to help identify the contents of the films in 2016. Tropea's attendance list formed the basis of the oral history interviews. Tropea and Siobhan Hagan of MARMIA coordinated to digitize the films at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture's Community Curation Program at Impact Hub in Baltimore, Maryland on November 10th, 2017. Tropea thought the films would be better suited for MARMIA's collections. The collection was donated to MARMIA by Melissa Shatto on August 4th, 2021.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The films were donated by Melissa Shatto on August 4, 2021. The digital video file was provided by Joe Tropea on August 20, 2021.
The oral histories were collected by Joana Stillwell. Melissa Shatto's and Joe Tropea's interviews were conducted on October 7, 2021. Shirlé Hale-Koslowski's interview was on October 14, 2021. Landis "Expandis" McCord's interview was on November 9, 2021.
This collection is still accepting accessions in the form of new oral histories pertaining to Melissa Shatto's eleven silent Super 8mm films of Baltimore bands performing in the early 1990s. New oral histories may change how the collection is described in this finding aid.
Existence and Location of Copies
Digital reproductions of the films, oral histories, transcripts, and photographs are on the Internet Archive and Aviary. The photographs that accompany the oral histories were scanned and shared by the interviewees. The interviewees hold the originals.
Series 1: The analog films were inspected, new film leader was added, and the film was rehoused in archival film canisters by Joana Stillwell and Siobhan Hagan. Titles in the finding aid reflect the titles on the original film canister labels, edited for clarity. Dates in the finding aid are based on the film edge codes, indicating production in 1989 and 1990, and original film processing envelopes dated March, 1991.
A single digital file received by Joe Tropea was edited during processing into eleven individual files corresponding to the original film reels, which were assigned sequential numbers in the order designated by Melissa Shatto.
Series 2: The oral histories were conducted with the video interview platform, TheirStory. The transcripts were generated in TheirStory and edited by Stillwell with the input of respective participants. Digital photographs shared with MARMIA for the oral history were placed with the oral histories on the Internet Archive and Aviary.
- Melissa Shatto Baltimore Bands Collection
- In Progress
- Joana Stillwell
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