Tuesday, April 12, 2011

RECORD STORE MEMORIES by Dave Rayburn


RECORD STORE MEMORIES

By Dave Rayburn


It was my senior year in high school when I decided to supplement my part-time movie theater job with something that was a little more of a guilty pleasure. The Tape & Record Room in Long Beach, California hired me on to clean and price stacks of vinyl to put out into the used bins. I heard about the store from a friend, and was already there on a regular basis scouring the Springsteen section for any releases I didn’t have (bootleg or otherwise). Now, not only was I serving a greater purpose in that store, but I was receiving an education at the same time… an education from people I barely knew, but whose drive for music had me compelled to open my ears and listen. Enter: The Kinks, Elvis Costello, Joe Ely, Badfinger, Sam Cooke, and others. Come payday, I pretty much found myself signing over my check so I could take home albums that I had been squirreling away behind the counter throughout the previous two weeks.


After being promoted at the theater, my record store gig came to a close, yet I was back there buying even more music than before. As I gathered more like-minded friends, we would start to “make the rounds” and hit up other cool indie stores across Southern California like Pepperland (Anaheim), Best Records (Cerritos), Bionic (Cypress), Moby Disc (Huntington Beach), Zed’s (Long Beach), The Record PX (Fountain Valley), Rockaway Records (Los Angeles), Middle Earth (Downey)… and the list goes on. Each store had its own charm, and its own unique personalities working the counter. By this time, record collecting had started to take on a different meaning to me with each new discovery. I often found myself picking up albums by artists that I knew nothing about other than the label they were signed to, or the personnel listed in the liner notes. It was history. It was what I was feeling at the time. And, it was what had the potential to be the next big thing. Thankfully, record stores were always there when the urge hit… to just get in the car and see if you could make it there before they closed to get your manic fix. Tower Records was always open til midnight, and that was taken advantage of frequently.

The late, great TOWER RECORDS on Sunset Strip in Hollywood

Not only was I growing my music collection over the course of these decades, but I was seemingly stimulating the local economy, making new friends… and at times, brushing with the stars. In-store appearances (a clever promotional tool) by recording artists starting happening more frequently as time went on. Thanks to stores like Fingerprints (Long Beach), Tower Records (Hollywood), and Amoeba Records (Hollywood), I was able to casually meet the likes of Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Lou Reed, Chris Isaak, Spinal Tap, Cowboy Junkies, X, Amy Farris, the Swell Season, Elvis Costello, and so many more. What better experience can you possibly get while supporting a record store? As if the music wasn’t enough.

Dave with THE SWELL SEASON  at FINGERPRINTS, Long Beach, CA

Here in 2011, the musical landscape appears far different than it did when I was in high school. Many of those storied music shops (not to mention some fairly prominent chains) have shut their doors over the years, feeling the ever-growing, competitive presence of the internet and “big box” stores, not to mention rampant piracy. Still, there are some survivors. And, interestingly enough, with the resurgence of vinyl over the past several years, new record shops are starting to sprout up again. In that light, Record Store Day has emerged as a way to celebrate the age-old art of music acquisition, and to provide all of us music geeks with unique and desirable treasures, designed to give an extra shot-in-the-arm to the stores that have continually supported our habits.

ELVIS COSTELLO live at AMOEBA RECORDS in Hollywood

This year marks the four year anniversary of this grand holiday, and there are no less than 263 Record Store Day releases being made available. One of the titles being offered this year happens to be near and dear to me. Early last year, I received word of a studio session that was being arranged by pop singer-songwriter Jill Sobule and X co-founder John Doe, informing that fans and friends could help fund the session, and in turn, be given the chance to be part of the experience. Well, I took the bait, and a buddy of mine and I spent nearly nine hours of a rainy Sunday at The Pass Studios in Los Angeles witnessing a record being made. An all-star session band (including the legendary Don Was) was pieced together, and under the guide of producer Dave Way, an album’s worth of material was laid down that afternoon. After waiting patiently for the better part of a year, I finally got the news I was waiting for. A Day At The Pass is being released on CD this Record Store Day, complete with two bonus tracks that are not available on the digital release. And, as an added bonus… the album cover features a photograph that I snapped while in the studio that day. How cool is that?!? Needless to say, A Day At The Pass is on my checklist for April 16th. 

 What’s on yours?
(click link for a complete list of RSD titles)



Get out there and support your local record stores! I’ll see ya there.


2 comments:

dzstephens said...

Rayburn...you ROCK! Very nice write-up...hopefully I'll run into you @ Fingerprints on RSD!

carol said...

Nice!