We all know about the decline of record stores throughout the country. Stores such as Waxie Maxie, Tower Records, The Wiz and Virgin Megastores have shut down. Waxie Maxie was where I got my music collection started. And I use to love walking to Tower Records during my lunch hour at work when they were in D.C. Sometimes Tower Records was where I could buy hard to find music artists during the 80’s and 90’s. If you still need your Tower Record fix check them out online. Virgin Megastores is also available online.
Today there are 2,000 independent records stores still doing business. Well today is Record Store Day.
By Steve Jones
What started out as a promotional tool has turned into a party celebrating the culture of independently owned record stores.
On Saturday, more than 1,000 stores and 600 artists will participate in Record Store Day activities that include in-store signings and performances, and the release of dozens of exclusive musical products.
“It has exploded,” says Michael Kurtz of Music Monitor Network, an organizer of the event, which is sponsored by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers. “We touched a nerve. So many people are passionate about record stores. It’s like how people feel about wine shops. We had no idea it would be that way, but it is and it’s incredible.”
Chris Cornell, Erykah Badu, Static-X, Queensryche, the Del McCoury Band and dozens of other artists will play intimate sets in stores. There are contests to win guitars from Silversun Pickups, Disturbed and Brian May.
Radiohead, My Morning Jacket, The Decemberists, Sonic Youth, Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen are among those who are putting out DVDs and recordings in unique packaging or limited editions, many with exclusive tracks, live performances and previously unreleased material. Lists of all products, participating stores and artist appearances can be found at recordstoreday.com.
Record Store Day was the idea of Chris Brown, a long-haired, goateed music guru from Bull Moose, a chain of 10 record stores in Maine and New Hampshire.
“I wanted to have a fun kind of party event at Bull Moose where we could thank our customers and just have a fun time,” he said. “I realized that it would be a much better party if we got the other stores involved, just make it a national thing.”
Now in its second year, Record Store Day is being celebrated at more than 1,000 independent record stores in the U.S. and in 17 countries.
I’m bringing this all up because I read in this week’s Prince Georges Gazette about a record store in District Heights, Maryland. The store is called Memory Lane CDs and Records. The store is owned by Michael Earle who bought the original Memory Lane Records in 2001.
by Natalie McGill
Until Harold Rice, 73, of District Heights met Michael Earle, he may have gone the rest of his life without hearing “Just An Angel” again, a song he recorded in the 1960s as member of local doo wop group The Five Pastels.
But in 2008 Earle, owner of District Heights’ Memory Lane CDs and Records, surprised Rice with the gift of his own voice.
“I didn’t even have a copy,” Rice said. “He found it. It was like another section of my life came together.”
Earle, 51, of Springfield, Va., and Memory Lane’s employee Marshall Parson, 34, of Oxon Hill enjoy going the extra mile to find a record like Rice’s that triggers an unforgettable memory. Earle, a fan of classic soul music since third-grade, said he wanted the store to have a “mom and pop” feel.
“A lot of people told us it’s not just about selling records, it’s about selling memories,” Earle said.
Memory Lane will recognize Record Store Day on April 18 along with 700 independently owned record stores nationwide. The event is meant to unite and celebrate independent record stores. Stores participating in Record Store Day cannot be part of a company that is publicly traded and at least 50 percent of what it offers must be music retail, according to the Record Store Day Web site. Hillcrest Heights’ Kemp Mill Music is also participating.
Happy Record Store Day!!!