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Capitol Music Group

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I participated in National Record Store Day.

A dear friend gently coaxed me out of my cave and led me to a funny little store in Westchester, Los Angeles called Soundsations Records. I admit I was very intimidated at first but as soon as I walked in something came over me and I very naturally began to dig through records. It was an old me coming back to life and she had no problem going forth into the vinyl.

My friend is a gentle soul and before we went “shopping” we sat and talked about old friends and other interesting things. I came away from the experience feeling like I had been to a shrink’s office. I babbled on about who knows what and he sat quietly listening…this is the trick you know? Listening. But he is a dj so it must come naturally. I think he had to talk me down in order to get me out. This is the sign of a good person.

Before we left for Soundsations he generously gave me 2 records from his own vast collection. Knowing I am a jazz fan, he very casually handed me a Cannonball Adderley And The Bossa Rio Sextet With Sergio Mendes and A World Of Jazz (double album): Donald Byrd, Lou Donaldson, Joe Henderson, Jimmy Smith, Bobby Hutcherson, The Jazz Crusaders, Billy Larkin & The Delegates, Lee Morgan, Big John Patton, Duke Pearson, Bud Shank, The Horace Silver Quintet, The Three Sounds, Stanley Turrentine, Jack Wilson; Liberty Records.

Once on the floor of Soundsations I picked up 3 records for myself: Earl Hines, Vince Guaraldi Trio: Cast Your Fate To The Wind (Jazz Impressions Of Black Orpheus), and Gilberto & Jobim.

All in all not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon, but I can see how it would be very easy to spend my last penny in a store like that; I resisted temptation.  (I still have to get my records back from my friend before I go crazy buying.)

Back in San Francisco (15 years ago) there was a great little store called 101 Records in North Beach. The owner was a very ornery German (Hungarian?) fellow who barked a lot but somehow I thought was very funny. He looked a bit like Klaus Maria Brandauer. I had a friend who worked there and we would sit and listen to whatever we wanted, as loud as we wanted. A favorite was Parliament but it didn’t always go over well with the Grunge set.  Apparently 101 Records is still open and has expanded to 2 stores, but I sort of doubt it is the same owner. Who knows?  I heard The Schlock Shop down the street went bye-bye.  Like McCabe’s in West Los Angeles these stores have a comforting quality to them – but only if you like old things.  These shops are never updated, remodeled and made too pretty. Soundsations smelled just like I hoped it would; like a library. McCabe’s smells the same way. Maybe it’s old cardboard? I love the smell and I love the wacky people who work in shops like this.  The Schlock Shop in San Francisco was literally a shop full of schlock. A lot of old, one of a kind things mixed with some of the most beautiful hats I have ever seen, or maybe they just seemed special because the store was special. I own a gorgeous Panama and fedora from this shop and am heartbroken it is no longer in existence. This was a place that embodied what I always felt The Old Curiosity Shop would be if ever materialized. The kind of shop I would want to own; a place that makes you feel as though you discovered something, a place that sparks a childlike curiosity.

Anyway I won’t continue to go down memory lane but I will say that if you want to experience stores like this you better get the hell out of the mall and start searching. These unique places are harder and harder to find. Luckily odd balls like myself and my elegant dj friend enjoy them and sometimes open our very own.

It’s keeping the doors open that becomes a trial.

Don’t just complain about change, do something about it. Go record shopping! Stop buying all your music on ITunes, go into a shop that always looks closed, where the proprietor looks mean, and the shelves dusty. Keep something original, original, don’t go out and copy it, keep their doors open by using it; be it a small grocery store, hole-in-the-wall bar, hardware, clothing, anything that isn’t a chain.

Mark Eitzel’s lyrics to Myopic Books sums it nicely:

one day I left my room

in the evening

it was freezing

the sidewalk shining

but it was ok

i wasn’t lonely

i wasn’t no one

i was just hoping

for a bookstore

like the one i prayed for

and the music they play there

would be dinosaur jr

and the people who worked there

would be super skinny

and super unfriendly

and that would make me happy

Even if you are afraid, GO IN. Ignore the young hipsters or old punkers who don’t want you to discover what they think is their very own shop, GO IN.

By way of thanking my friend for holding my hand and getting me into a store, I suggest you listen to his show Rise on KPFK (Los Angeles). Mark Maxwell knows a thing or two about music, every day is record store day for him, but he doesn’t beat you over the head with his knowledge. His hypnotic ways will ease you back into the beauty and curiosity of real music, the years will drop away from you and the joy of putting the needle on the record will make your hips move like they did before you needed ibuprofen.

Addendum: Word on the boulevard is that Sir Mixalot Henry Rollins was spinning at Amoeba in Hollywood. How pleasant. I guess they needed the publicity. Kinda defeats the purpose of National Record Store Day but hey, everyone has to make a living.