We’re merely two days away from the best day of the year, Record Store Day! It’s that day of the year where audiophiles, vinyl freaks, and album spinners across the world get to pretend their hobby is more legitimate than it really is. The day where they can look at their spouse and say “See??? It’s not just me!! I’m not crazy!! Now give me the checkbook, I’m going to go grab my 180 gram copy of The Gambler!!” This is the day where that old dude that told you vinyl sounds better than CDs when you were 20 years old can look at you now as you walk out of the record store with an armful of those circular black beauties and say “I told you so”, before slinking back to his Acura SUV and drive off listening to his iPod. Yes, Record Store Day is our Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter. The day vinyl was born, died for our digital sins, and then rose from the dead to offer us eternal analog life once again…
It’s also the day of the year where idiots will shell out $40 for a 180 gram pressing of Kenny Rogers The Gambler, but I digress.
I will admit that before 2008, the last record I bought was probably Vinnie Vincent Invasion’s self-titled in 1986. I’m not proud of that fact, but this is what a guitar playing 13 year old from the Midwest in 1986 does, or did. Well, there was that one-off vinyl purchase of Lenny Kravitz’s Are You Gonna Go My Way in 1993. But that was just so I could get the bonus CD it came with. The record was thrown into a pile of albums in a box in my parent’s basement that included Judas Priest, Yngwie Malmsteen, Men At Work, and, well…Vinnie Vincent Invasion. But in 2008 I’d decided I was going to go back to vinyl. I bought an Audio Technica AT-PL120 and a handful of jazz records at the Jazz Record Mart in Chicago. So began the great wallet bleed of my life. But hey, this has gotta be a cheaper habit than say, priceless baseball cards, high priced college football tickets, or meth.
One of the perks of being a vinyl lover is every year in April album geeks celebrate the beauty of vinyl AND the independent record store, aka ‘brick ‘n mortars’, with their own day. Artists and labels back the day by releasing ‘RSD exclusive’ titles. Why? Because it’s a chance for artists to put out long out-of-print albums, b-sides, or just exclusive songs for Record Store Day. Oh, and it’s probably a major money grab, too. But hey, we’re adults. No one is making us buy this stuff. Most certainly not Kenny Rogers. We buy these exclusive records because we love music. We love supporting the artists that have given us so much of themselves over the years. And we love to support the local record store that supplies us with the things we love. I’ve celebrated Record Store Day for the last three years. I plan to continue that trend this Saturday, April 20th. In years passed I’ve packed a kid or two in the car and we’ve made the trek to Fort Wayne, IN. Thanks to guys like Bob Roets at Wooden Nickel Music and Morrison Agen at Neat Neat Neat Records they’ve made RSD a true event. Bob having local bands play all day at his store, along with his wife doling out chocolate chip cookies to the patrons and their much-appreciative kiddos. Morrison last year had donuts and coffee for the folks, and this year he’s having Bravas serving something called the FRENCHdog(it looks unholy….unholy good). These two guys, like I’ve said before are the real heroes of RSD. They make the day special. They’re the ringleaders of this analog Circus, and I gladly and respectfully tip my hat to them.
This year, however, I won’t be heading out of town. This year I’ll be remaining in my lowly Midwest village where folks still drool over the thought of a Logans or Olive Garden coming to our quaint, backwoods village. A place where the most excitement occurs at the downtown park where Foghat, America, or Ambrosia is sure to be playing on a 110 degree day in July. But fear not, my friends. There, sitting in-between a much overpriced bar ‘n grill and an Army Recruiting Office in a strip mall just a stone’s throw away from a Walmart(of course), lies a Karma Records. Yes, those chain stores you thought had died out or had gone strictly to “water pipes”, incense, and body piercing sales. This Karma is different. It’s run by a low key guy named John Vance. John wants to bring music back to Karma. He wants it to be a “record” store again, as opposed to just a “store”. Thanks to my friend Mr. Vance I’ve kept my record collection good and healthy. When I first started going there, the record collection was pretty pitiful. But over time he’s grown it significantly. He’s got a decent perusing quantity and his used collection is growing as well. He can pretty much special order anything, and loves to turn folks on to new music. But more than anything, Vance is a music lover through and through. He may not have the inventory that the Wooden Nickels and Neat Neat Neats have, but he’s as much a fan and champion of vinyl and RSD as anyone I know.
So if you find yourself in the vicinity of 2606 Sheldon Street in Warsaw, IN on Saturday April 20th, stop in and see John Vance at Karma Records. He’s celebrating Record Store Day and he’ll have lots of RSD goodies. Then head east to Fort Wayne and grab a cookie and check out some bands at Wooden Nickel Music. Then go visit Morrison at Neat Neat Neat Records at 1836 South Calhoun Street and grab a Bravas dog and a trunk load of vinyl.
Wherever you’re at reading this -in whatever part of the country or world- get out and celebrate music. Celebrate Record Store Day. Celebrate brick ‘n mortars.
Viva La Record Store Day!
Editors Note: If you are planning on heading out on April 20th and taking part in RSD, let me know what store(s) you plan on hitting, and what albums you’re excited about getting.