|Mac Bouvrie - MAC Records
Mac Bouvrie's Stall at Rockabilly Highlands, 2002
I met many fifties rock 'n' roll fans, but one of the biggest must be Mac Bouvrie. I have known him for many years and visited him and his wife Agnes (who always serves delicious pies) several times. He can pick records from his basement and play them all night for you, saying things like "isn't this great", and "just fantastic". This guy really loves his 45s and is always willing to share his music with anyone. His love for authentic fifties music goes to such lengths that he started his own record label. "I started Mac records back in 1971 and still I issue artists on vinyl who play authentic rock 'n' roll in a way that I like it."
Mac Bouvrie was born in Maastricht (Holland), but he and his familie moved to Lanaken, Belgium many years ago. His record label emerged more or less coincidental. "In the late 60's there were many collectors of fifties rock 'n' roll records," remembers Mac, "In those days it was very difficult to get original 50's material. Therefor many well known collectors started to release rare singles on compilation albums. Many of these collectors searched for original unissued recordings in the States. In 1971 I planned to to search for rare recordings in and around Holland. At that time I had just received a few singles by 'The Mosam Skiffle Group' from Maastricht. So I started my quest for original rock 'n' roll right here in Maastricht. I got in touch with Jean Innemee, he was the lead musician of 'The Mosam Skiffle group'. At that time Jean was playing with the well known Dutch band 'The Walkers'. Jean had some real nice pictures of the band, but he had no
original recordings in his posession. He suggested I ask his cousin Jack Innemee, former drummer of the group, who he thought should have some old tapes lying around. A few weeks later I visited Jack in Belgium and indeed he did have some tapes stashed away in an old chest. I was allowed to take the tapes home and listen to them. There was a lot of good stuff on the tapes, mainly well known songs and also a few original compositions. I used the best tracks to make the first MAC LP."
Did you make any financial arrangements?
None what so ever... I had permission to use the tapes to make an LP. I had to finance this myself, and I had 250 copies printed at first. This LP was on the yellow MAC label, these are now rare collectables. It was re-issued many times with the better known blue MAC label.
How long have you been a rock 'n' roll fan yourself?
I started listening to rock 'n' roll records when I was about eleven years old and that's when I also first heard the original singles of 'The Mosam Skiffle group". I still get shivers down my spine when I play these 45's.
After that first LP, did you want to go on with your own label?
No, not at first. It might be nice to explain how I got the name MAC, because my real name actually is Mat. In 1968 I got involved in a car crash and was badly injured. Later on when I got better I started reading news papers in the hospital (I never read them at home) and in one of these papers I read an ad from one Paul de Bruyker who auctioned less known rock 'n' roll records. Sure I responded to his ad and we were pen-pals a long time after that. Paul always called me "mac" in his letters, so I thought, if he consists in calling me mac, I will sign my letters with that name and that's the way the name "Mac" evolved.
When did you decide to continue the MAC label?
Shortly after I issued a single by Hank "C" Burnette I got in touch with Burt Allis. This German lad came to me in 1974 with a cassette tape he wanted me to listen to. I really liked what I heard and I asked him which band it was. "That's me," he said, and I immediatly responded with "Damned, we gotta make a record of that!". So in 1974 we issued 'Rock-a-billy Lilly' b/w 'Dig no one else'. Both songs were written by Burt, who writes all his material himself.
How did you meet Hank "C" Burnette?
Hank repsonded to an article in the rock 'n' roll magazine 'Rockville' about my fist LP. He sent me some tapes that I really liked, songs like 'Tag Along' and 'Rockin' Pneumonia' were considered very good in those days. From all his tapes I picked 4 songs and issued them on 2 singles, these songs were covers and not written by Hank himself. When Burt Allis came to me with his own work I decided that in the future I would only issue original songs and so far I still managed to do so.
Is Burt Allis a good songwriter?
He's really unbelievable! He must have hundreds of songs written all by himself, all in his very own rockin' fifties style. Of course some songs aren't all that good, but still it's unbelievable how Burt "pops up" these songs. All Burt's records are released as "Burt Allis and the Diggers", but in fact it's all the same person. This guy plays guitar, piano, drums, sax and bass, he's really incredible! Burt's first LP was also issued on RCA in Germany and the USA. Polydor offered Burt a contract if he was willing to record German language ballads. Burt kindly refused.. Like me, all he wants is rock 'n' roll!
Do you stimulate the musicians during recording?
Yes, just by being there I guess. Mostly the recordings are very spontanious. If it sounds good, I release it on single or LP. I have many different artists on my label, and I'm always looking for something new. I don't need a second Burt Allis. Burt Allis, Billy Wiggle anf Jacky & The Cheap Checkers for instance, make a totally different kind of music even if all are rockabilly.
Is your MAC label a hobby or a living?
It's a way of life and a hobby first. Of course it's very nice if you can earn a living with it, but I think I will need a very big hit first and that's not very likely to happen with my kind of music.
What is "new" in your opinion?
Just something nobody else has done before. Everybody's got his own ideas, the trick is to turn good ideas to good records. If an artist writes his own songs you can always find something new and personal in it and I like that a lot better than covering other peoples' songs. It fascinates me to see people have ideas that nobody else had before. Burt Allis even has his own studio in his basement where he records all his songs.
What does this basement look like?
It's just like being back in the fities. There is an original jukebox and lots of pictures of all the great performers on the walls and many, many records and tapes.
How do you get peoples' attention for your label?
I run adds sometimes in various rock 'n' roll magazines and I issue my own catalog that I send to collectors and I often rent stands at rock 'n' roll meetings and record markets. I think by now, just about every European collector and even many in the States know the small MAC label that emerged 20 years ago in the deep south of Holland.
Do you always have your complete line in stock?
Yes, when a record is out of stock, I just have it re-pressed again. All LP's and singles I ever issued are still available. They will become collectors' items some day when I'm dead and gone, but I'm not planning on stepping out for a long time! Also, I will not issue any material on Compact Disk, I'll stick to good old vinyl for as long as possible.
By The BlackCat 1999, with adaptions from an original interview by Stan Goovaard (1983) with the kind permission of Mac Bouvrie.
Las Vegas, August 1996 - Left to right:
Doug Sahm, Mac Bouvrie, Sam Butera, Johnny Olenn
COMPLETE MAC RECORDS DISCOGRAPHY CLICK HERE
Sadly Mac Bouvrie passed away on April 27, 2016. R.I.P. Mac!