Music

Black Friday Record Store Day

RecordStoreDay

In my latest piece for the Voice-Tribune, I interviewed local music store curators about this week’s Record Store Day Black Friday. In addition to the material that made it into the paper, I acquired a good amount of interview material. Never one to let anything go to waste, I’ll share it with you here.

RecordStoreDay

Sean Liter, Modern Cult Records

Rocko: Text on the Record Store Day website reads “In the past Black Friday was an American event created by large corporate retailers as a shopping day that promoted mass produced items at super low prices in hopes of driving customers into their stores. RSD’s Black Friday subverts the model and creates pieces of art in the form of limited special editions, often numbered, from a diverse list of beloved artists. RSD’s version of Black Friday is an excuse to celebrate both the pieces themselves and the special indie record stores who carry them. Cheap, mass-produced frenzy is not the goal.” How do you feel about that? Does this statement express sentiments that you hold?

Sean: I think that as far as reversing the trend from cheap, mass produced products to a more realistically priced, limited edition product, they have succeeded. As a collector and a completist, I understand the appeal. However, there is a line between collecting and fetishizing (at least I tell myself that). Some of this RSD stuff seems to kind of create a false scarcity, a forced collectability. I suppose there is a real conversation happening in the industry about format, and things have shifted dramatically to vinyl. But at the end of the day, I don’t really care what color my records are, if they are limited or not. I just want the music.

As a retailer with a collector’s mindset though, we try to cater to what people are into. It’s not always easy to get all the limited edition, gold flecked swirly records, but we will go out of our way to get it if people want it.

Rocko: Is Record Store Day a big deal for you?

Sean: Record Store Day is a big deal because honestly we get to catch up on our bills. Ha. Owning a small, independent record store is almost a vow of poverty, so it’s nice to really make some money and at the same time see so many new faces really getting excited about music.

Some really cool stuff gets released as well. One of my favorites of the years was the Bardo Pond 12″ released in the UK for RSD. Just them covering Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain and Pharaoe Saunder’s The Creator Has A Master Plan (not sure I spelled his name correctly). It’s an opportunity for bands to bring out some of their more odd-ball releases.

Rocko: Do you feel that a Black Friday version is a good idea?

Sean: The Black Friday version of RSD is a little smaller but yeah, I think it’s a good idea. Anything that promotes music culture for me is a good thing. Also, encouraging consumers to spend their money with local retailers is good for the community as a whole.

Rocko: What releases are you most eager about as a store owner and also as a music enthusiast?

Sean: Releases I am most excited about are primarily reissue LPs like Afghan Whigs, Dead Milk Men, Husker Du, etc. The Miles Davis xmas 10″ and the RUN DMC Christmas in Hollis 7″ are cool. I have always collected odd xmas themed records. The J. Mascis 7″ w/ him covering Mazzy Star’s Fade Into You. Ennio Morricone’s The Good The Bad and the Ugly soundtrack on LP.

Rocko: What can shoppers expect on Black Friday at your store?

Sean: Customers can expect a variety of RSD releases, hot coffee and donuts. We do a big party/ free show for the big RSD, but not so much for the Black Friday because people have too much to do with family & friends visiting for the holiday, xmas shopping, etc. For the big RSD we like to throw a party because, you know, it’s our day. That’s the best thing about both RSDs. It’s a day for people to recognize the roles small, independent record stores play and a time to celebrate music culture.

Rocko: Thanks, Sean!

RecordStoreDay

Ben Jones and David Stockhoff, Better Days Records

Rocko: Text on the Record Store Day website reads “In the past Black Friday was an American event created by large corporate retailers as a shopping day that promoted mass produced items at super low prices in hopes of driving customers into their stores. RSD’s Black Friday subverts the model and creates pieces of art in the form of limited special editions, often numbered, from a diverse list of beloved artists. RSD’s version of Black Friday is an excuse to celebrate both the pieces themselves and the special indie record stores who carry them. Cheap, mass-produced frenzy is not the goal.” How do you feel about that? Does this statement express sentiments that you hold?

Ben: Anything the promotes local business is essential for the survival in this tough market. I feel Record Store Days’ statement is correct, as these are niche items designed for a niche consumer. We help connect music lovers with these releases and provide it at a fair price. You have heard me say that, if you buy it right and sell it fair, you will win the game every time.

David: I do think that is a fair look at what RSD does, in general. They have been successful, to varying degrees, on creating a diverse range of quality releases. The big picture, when it comes to the Black Friday child version of the larger parent day in April, is that we still provide the same level of quality products that we do all year round. Record Store Day merchandise is the well-curated carrot. When you combine the fact that the next day his Small Business Saturday, it is terrific one-two punch to kick start our Holiday season.

Rocko: Is Record Store Day a big deal for you? Do you feel that a Black Friday version is a good idea?

Ben: Yes, Record Store Day, no matter the time of year, equals record sales for all stores that participate. It is excellent opportunity to make an impression on someone that may only venture out to shop during these special events.

David: To me, anything that brings excitement to table, gets people interested and engaged and supports the local economy is a huge win for all involved.

Rocko: What releases are you most eager about as a store owner and also as a music enthusiast?

David: Just a quick look at this years list, which is much shorter than in past years, I see the Beatles EP, a David Bowie 10 inch (crafted to look like a 20’s era Columbia 78), several Miles Davis issues, the obligatory Greatful Dead release, a Hozier 10″ (his self titled debut is one of favorites of 2014), The JB’s because it is The JB’s, to Waylon Jennings. Other reissues that are essential range from Little Richard’s self-titled classic from 1958 to 1961’s Roy Orbison At The Rockhouse to Phil Spector’s Christmas Gift to You, on red vinyl no less! Other Christmas themed greats from Run DMC, Joey Ramone and Bessie Smith!

Ben: They are more than enough here to be excited about. But, once you more past The Grateful Dead and Hendrix, it is a crap shot as to what record buyers will be snatching up. That is the frustrating yet exciting part. We are just excited to have a little bit of everything that people will be looking for.

Rocko: What can shoppers expect on Black Friday at your store?

 

Ben: As always, we will have hundreds of LPs and cassettes curated from my personal collection and that of Alan Hall’s, who spent many years in radio around Louisville and Madison, IN.

David: Beyond one of strongest fills from the selections being offer for RSD and tons of LPs, CDs and cassettes, we will have the largest selection of Christmas music, just in time for the Holidays.

Rocko: Thanks, Ben and David!

Photos by Chris Humphries.

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Fiction

The Cold River

Scorp

Down in Texas, a shot rang out. A man died in a popping flash of red. A motorcade broke apart. Panic spread. A nation was shocked. A world joined them- in some regions. In other places, knives were audibly sharpened in the form of pointed words, vicious and feral, and backroom plots were hatched.

A circuit was completed. A phone rang. The High Priest answered. It was done. He smiled his toothy grin. His hands were red. He closed his eyes and inhaled ecstasy. He said three words “Praise the Scorpion.” The line went dead.

He let his head roll back. He felt dizzy. He locked his knees, wobbled on his heels, fell backwards with a thump. His body was scrawny and lithe. He didn’t eat much. His arms were akimbo. He started to move and slither. He could feel the clouds forming. “This is just the beginning!” he said aloud. One thing would lead to another. It would all happen very quickly.

He smeared his bloody hands across his white carpet. He held his hands like pinchers. He tried to feel his tail and imagine its sting. He bit his lower lip. He felt its juice. He inhaled deep through his nose, smelled the burning incense. He saw the pain that so many others were feeling through his closed eyes.He imagined the cold water rushing over him and the dying amphibian as the river took them

“This is just the beginning…”

 

 

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