Polymer Plaudits 

Saturday is Record Store Day—got vinyl?

by Sean MaloneyIn the interest of full disclosure, this writer is a former staff member for Grand Palace Records in Murfreesboro.

In the interest of full disclosure, this writer is a former staff member for Grand Palace Records in Murfreesboro. He has also promoted events at Grimey’s, he goes to Great Escape on his lunch break and stops at Phonoluxe every time he has to go to his mother-in-law’s house. Oh, and he’s a total dick for not visiting The Groove in East Nashville until last weekend. That shop is hella sweet.

But on to the task at hand—it’s time to celebrate Record Store Day, and you can do it locally at The Groove this Saturday, where JEFF, Meemaw, The Nobility, Eureka Gold and more will play live. Over at Grimey’s, the nationally recognized vinyl hub will offer a meet-and-greet with indie stars such as Silver Jews’ frontman David Berman, Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner and more. Plus there’s freebies, bargain bins, beer and entertainment from Soulphonics, Tim O’Brien, Mike Farris and others.

That’s right, the entire 24 hours of the 19th day of April are dedicated to the appreciation and adulation of platter pushers and hi-fi hustlers. While accountants and pencil pushers worry about finding a “new model” for the music industry like a gaggle of sorority girls trying to deduce who gave them all the clap, music lovers across Nashville and the nation will be rockin’ the old. That’s right, people are going to record stores to—gasp—buy recorded music! How adorably retro!

But why on earth would you want to pull on some pants, put down the Cheetos and unplug your recommendation robots? What can your local sound shop offer that a nefarious network of Scandinavian bootleggers can’t?

“We can have a conversation,” says Doyle Davis, Grimey’s co-owner and vinyl specialist. “Ideas pop up in conversations that lead down new paths. An algorithm can only return results based on others’ purchases. I buy mostly gifts at sites like Amazon, but since those purchases weren’t for me, now Amazon recommends some wacky stuff I would never buy or care about. The record store and its staff are a community center for music lovers. We talk music, listen to music, investigate music and share it all in the store every day.”

Grand Palace clerk and Rykodisc recording artist James “Wooden Wand” Toth concurs. “If you come to my store and tell me you love The White Stripes, I might ask you if you’ve ever heard The Gories,” he says. “Once you’re into The Gories, well, the label the Gories were on put out lots of great stuff. Mom-and-pop record stores should serve as rites of passage, a place for curious music fans to come of age and expand their horizons. Is Best Buy gonna do that?”

No, Big Brother’s big-box music section is solely a loss-leading lure to get your sucker ass to maybe—just maybe—buy a TV, a couch or some dog food. Sam Walton’s ghost and Steve Jobs’ turtleneck zombies don’t give a damn about fostering a cultural dialogue and nurturing a music community. They want you to buy a “Razor Pocket Rocket Electric Mini Bike” or a second laptop computer—something with a huge markup, and therefore grotesquely profitable.

Think the knuckle-dragging mouth-breather behind the counter at Circuit City can help you find the first-pressing European picture-sleeve of the Grateful Dead’s “Dark Star/Born Cross-Eyed” 45 rpm single? Yeah, didn’t think so.

“Indie record stores (well, the smart ones) have been very proactive and creative throughout the decade,” says industry pundit Glen Coolfer in a recent post on his respected music-business blog, Coolfer.com. “They have the sort of relationship with their customers and communities that national chains and online stores can’t match. At the very least, Record Store Day will remind customers their local record store is still around and is still active in its local music scene. A few bucks will be made along the way, but the point is to build a better relationship with customers.”

Check out Recordstoreday.com and Grimeys.com for more information and a schedule of activities nationwide.

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