Your favourite holiday is back!
By Chris Hibbard
Originally written for http://www.labeat.ca
Collectors and fans of vinyl records and LPs are going to want to know all about this! (Though most likely, many of them already do.)
Next Saturday, April 16th, is the fourth annual international Record Store Day. This special holiday, celebrated the third Saturday of each April, was founded in 2007. It is a celebration of the unique culture that surrounds vinyl, as well as the nearly 1000 independently owned record stores around the world that satisfy the needs of vinyl collectors. This one day sees record store owners, customers and musicians gathering together to rejoice in commemoration of what is still considered to be the finest sounding medium for appreciating music.
As part of the annual celebration, hundreds of artists make special promotional products and appearances, exclusively for this occasion. Last year’s Official Ambassador was Josh Homme from the Queens of the Stone Age, while this year it is the Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne, that champions this unique occasion. All of the stores that participate in Record Store Day are real, physical, ‘indie’ record stores – not those online retailers or corporate mega-chains that sell individual tracks or big, major label Top 40 artists only.
In Lethbridge, there is only one such store – our very own Blueprint Entertainment. As the only store in Southern Alberta that receives and sells the exclusive Record Store Day content, for record collectors and vinyl buffs, Blueprint is the place to be on Saturday. Located next to the Red Dog Diner downtown, Blueprint is owned and operated by Mike Molloy.
“I was fortunate enough to born in an era where vinyl was still a go-to source for quality music,” Molloy said. “I remember being about eight years old in Calgary, and finding a small record store in the mall near my house. I’d go and hang out with Bob, the owner, and it was like finding the holy grail – it was the be-all and end-all. Bob introduced me to some of the greats, like the Stones and CCR, and those memories have stayed with me throughout the years.”
A big music collector himself, Molloy’s passion for independent record shops led him to find outlets like Calgary’s Sloth Records and Megatunes, not to mention road trips to Seattle and more. To this day, he has yet to visit a city in which he doesn’t stop for a while to seek out the local record store. “From a personal level,” Molloy said, “it’s all about that idea of the hunt being more important than the find – it’s about the enjoyment I get from sifting through piles and stacks of records and CDs, just staring at their covers and jackets, and soaking it all in.”
As the owner of a record store for the past five years, Molloy finds himself in an interesting position – essentially he is a re-incarnation of Bob, that store owner who influenced his life so many years ago.
“Unlike some of the big box and mall stores, I can come in to work each day and be turned on to new artists and musicians by other music collectors like myself,” Molloy said. “I never would have found out about so much of the music that I carry in here today had I relied on the Internet and chain stores. That passion for collecting and love of the more obscure or independent artists can only be found behind the counter of an independent record shop, and I’m always happy to try and pass that passion along.”
For Mike and Blueprint, the annual Record Store Day is truly a day worth celebrating. While from a sales perspective it’s a good day for the store, Molloy says the best part involves having fun. To this end, Blueprint brings in live musicians who play in-store throughout the day, and customers mix and mingle while drinking coffee and juice. This year’s performers include Jesse Northey, Fist City, DJ Pez and Picture Postcard.
It is Record Store Day’s exclusive releases that make it a huge draw for vinyl aficionados though. While Blueprint can’t guarantee they’ll be selling every exclusive title, as many of them are limited editions only, the items that do come in are very special indeed. This year’s list of Record Store Day-only releases includes over 150 exclusives from a wide variety of artists. Exclusive singles are available by big name acts like Kings of Leon and the Foo Fighters, while special 7″ and 10″ records are released by more obscure indie favourites like Fleet Foxes and Blitzen Trapper. A full list of participating artists and exclusive RSD titles can be viewed at http://www.recordstoreday.com.
As a self-admitted music geek, I know where I’m going to be on Saturday afternoon… so how about you?
If you’re still not convinced, check out what these guys have to say…
Nick Cave; Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Grinderman:
“Do yourself a tremendous favour and go to a record store today. The relatively mild exertion of getting off your fat, computer-shackled ass and venturing out to find the object of your desire, the thrill of moving through actual space and time, through row upon row of records, and the tactile ecstasy of fondling the quested treasure—all this will augment and enrich the mental associations the music invokes in you for the rest of your life.”
“A long time ago, people that made music meant it; people that bought it cared and celebrated the listening to it as an activity unto itself. They read the liner notes like a sacred text and conversed for hours on the intricacies of a band, a sound, a producer, a label, the artwork, a movement. Oh yes, in a store, face to face. Uphold that tradition. Honor our stores that still exist that cater to people making music that still care, and fans that do too.”
Henry Rollins; Black Flag & Rollins Band:
“I have watched independent record stores evaporate all over America and Europe. That’s why I go into as many as I can and buy records whenever possible. If we lose the independent record store, we lose big. Every time you buy your records at one of these places, it’s a blow to the empire.”
Ziggy Marley; Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers:
“Record stores keep the human social contact alive it brings people together. Without the independent record stores the community breaks down with everyone sitting in front of their computers.”
Fat Mike; NOFX:
“If it wasn’t for independent record stores, I would be a San Fernando valley real estate agent.”