Smile Politely

Sousa Archives to preserve Pogo Studio recordings


University Library Acquires Master Tapes, Documentation of Prominent Local Recording Studio

Champaign, Illinois — The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, part of the University of Illinois Library, has acquired two archival collections that document the legacy of Champaign-Urbana’s landmark Pogo Studio and its owner/operator Mark Rubel.

Pogo Studio operated in downtown Champaign for almost 30 years, and recorded albums by musical artists such as Adrian Belew, Alison Krauss, Amasong, Hum, Menthol, Shiner, Starcastle, and the Vertebrats, as well as capturing performances by ensembles from the University of Illinois, Eastern Illinois University, and Parkland College. Pogo discontinued recording sessions in January 2014, in preparation for a move to Nashville, TN later this year. In December 2013, the Sousa Archives took custody of 2,600 audio reels and digital tapes recorded and stored at Pogo Studio, as well as documents describing the contents of each tape and the details of each recording session.

“The historical significance of the Pogo Studio recordings is quite remarkable because these materials provide a vivid snapshot of the dynamic and vital music scene that has distinguished the Urbana-Champaign community from all other communities in America’s Midwest,” according to Scott Schwartz, director of the University of Illinois’ Sousa Archives and Center for American Music.

In January 2014, the Sousa Archives acquired a second collection of materials related to Mark Rubel, his family, and the Champaign-Urbana rock music scene, from his sister, artist Sasha Rubel.  The collection includes photographs, t-shirts, and albums released by local artists.  These materials will supplement the Pogo recordings, as well as other collections related to local popular music located at the Sousa Archives.

After processing is completed by the staff of the Sousa Archives and the Library Preservation Department, both collections will be preserved in climate-controlled Library storage, and made available for use by researchers at the Sousa Archives.

“These recordings, business records, and photographs of the many music ensembles and performers that were recorded by Pogo Studio will provide scholars with tremendous primary source information about America’s popular music culture between 1983 and 2013,” according to Schwartz.

The Pogo Studio Records and the Sasha Rubel Papers have enabled Mark and Sasha Rubel to continue in a family tradition.  Mark and Sasha’s father, Lee A. Rubel, was on the Mathematics faculty at Illinois, and his papers are held by the University Archives.  Their mother Nina Rubel was a prolific feature writer for the Urbana Courier and Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette.  Nina Rubel’s papers were donated by Sasha to the Champaign County Historical Archives in 2009 and 2010.

The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music acquires and preserves significant archival records and historical artifacts in multiple media formats that document America’s local and national music history and its diverse cultures. Part of the University of Illinois Library and University Archives, the Sousa Archives arranges, describes, and makes its collections accessible through on-line databases, finding aids, and other publications in support of scholarship, exhibitions, publications and education. The Sousa Archives’s collections are used for scholarly research, exhibitions, journalism, documentary productions, school programs, music performances, and other research and educational activities. It actively pursues alliances inside and outside the university community and, where necessary, financial support.  For more information, visit


For more information about this topic, or the University’s local music preservation efforts, contact the Sousa Archives at (217) 244-9309 or [email protected].

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