Record Store Day: What Record Stores Meant to Me Growing Up
With Record Store Day coming up on Saturday, I decided to reflect back on the time I spent hanging out at my local record store.
I'll also tell you about some of the activities going on at Grand Rapids record stores Saturday.
If you don't know, Pandora is a website and a smartphone app that allows you to type in an artist, and their algorithm will play songs by that artist and similar to that artist. When an artist pops up that you don't like, you hit the thumbs down key and it will eliminate that artist from the mix.
I think Pandora is a great app, but I had a place to go to to learn about music when I was younger. It was my neighborhood record store (first Boogie Records, and later, Record and Tape Traders in Saginaw), and it worked on a similar platform.
You see, by hanging out Saturday afternoons at the record store, the owner and the employees there got to know my taste in music. So, when I finally made a purchase (which was rare because I didn't have much money), they knew my tastes, and would suggest other artists similar to that one that I might like. My musical social network was firmly in place at that store, so that the conversations we had and music we listened to formed a kind of human algorithm. By buying a Lou Reed album, the employees knew I might be open to checking out some Velvet Underground albums that were for sale in the cut out bin, and thus my musical palette widened.
Sure, the record store employees could get smarmy from time to time, not unlike the Jack Black character in "High Fidelity", but for the most part they let me figure it out in my own way, kind of like the algorithm on Pandora. Yes, they would try and turn me on to some music I would say no to, but they would also turn me on to music I came to love, so it was the same experiment, it just played out in a different way. (CAUTION: Language NSFW in clip)
Record stores used to be the place you went to to hear and sample new sounds, everybody who worked there and hung out there shared a passion for one thing: music, all forms of music and they still do, if you seek them out.
This Saturday is National Record Store Day. Below is a list of some West Michigan record stores. I only ask you to go and see what is going on at the stores in your neighborhood. You may find your own Velvet Underground album on sale.
Local record stores participating in Record Store Day include:
-- Dodd's Record Shop, Grand Rapids
-- Vertigo Music, Grand Rapids
-- The Corner Record Shop, Grandville
-- The Full Circle, Holland
-- Green Light Music, Kalamazoo
-- The Corner Record Shop & Audio, Kalamazoo
-- Phoenix Records & Boutique, South Haven
-- Schuler Books & Music, Walker
In addition, some venues will be featuring great live and local music all day long on Saturday.
According to Local Spins, a great West Michigan music site, Vertigo Music (129 S. Division) will be rocking from noon until 8pm with the Short Giants, Chinese Baseball, Action Figures, Lake Timber and the Heaters providing the live tunes.
At Dodd's (20 S. Division), Potatoebabies, Old Man Jenkins, Lectralux, Tommy Gun, Bitters, Remedy Blue, Harley Poe, B Mo, Squints and Jesse Ray & The Carolina Catfish are slated to perform between 3 and 9pm.
Meanwhile, over in Grandville, Corner Record Shop, 3562 Chicago Drive SW, will kick up the music at noon with the Brother Pickers, Black Trash and Treasure, Helical Scan, Jake Stevens and Stone's Throw lined up to go.
By the way, Vertigo and Corner Record Shop recently made a best of list published by the Awesome Mitten website; and Dodd's and their passionate new owner, Rev. Charles Preston Smith, were featured in a great article at Rapid Growth.
Nationally, Universal Music is reissuing classic tracks on specially priced, limited edition vinyl. Included on the release list is a seven-inch version of Nirvana's Pennyroyal Tea, a Soundgarden 12-inch and a Public Enemy album with a 3D cover.
And if you're seeking out movies about the record store life, check High Fidelity, and also Empire Records, as both capture a time where record stores existed as a social scene in addition to being a place to hear and buy music.