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Label Watch: Windham Hill

Windham Hill's Steve Vining, third from left, pictured with members of Hiroshima and label reps. From left, Dan Kuramoto, June Kuramoto, Vining, Johnny Mori, Ron McCarrell, Kimo Cornwell and Patrick Clifford

In the beginning, back in the early ’80s, when MP3 and Kenny G weren’t gleams in anybody’s eyes, there was a little label that could. The unlikely recipe for success: a carpenter-cum-indie label founder named Will Ackerman who excelled at noodling on acoustic guitar, based in the Bay Area and harboring romantic visions of life in Vermont. The Windham Hill success story, fueled by the surprise smash of George Winston, inspired a legion of indie label hopefuls to this day. Now, the closest connection to Vermont is on the internet, when you type in and come up with the site for the Windham Hill Inn.

It has been years now since Ackerman sold his interest in the label to the corporate giant BMG, and the label has been through a myriad of changes. The base of operations moved from Marin County to Los Angeles, with the requisite change of attitude. At present, Windham Hill is soaring again, but this time with a different, much more bottom line consciousness. Winston is still on the label, but so are groovular slicksters like the Rippingtons.

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