The first thing that hit me when I stepped in the door on the house tour was the music. It was jazz, and it was perfect for a cloudy, chilly day in November. In a minute, I was standing in front of a spinning turntable.
The album the homeowner had put on, its jacket propped on the shelf next to the turntable, was Idle Moments by Grant Green. I had never heard of the album or artist, but I made a note to track down both on my streaming service.
“Streaming service.” Seems so sterile next to something you can touch and see right in front of you. And that is exactly what Record Store Day is all about – a chance to celebrate music you can see and touch, music encoded on grooved vinyl and encased in cardboard jackets; music you can hold in your hands and buy from someone you know. And in particular, Record Store Day, which was marked April 16, celebrates the independent record stores on street corners across the country, little places (and sometimes big) that were endangered a few years ago but have come roaring back. Most of them deal in CDs and even cassettes as well, but it is the LP (new and used) that is the hallmark of the record shop. Sales of vinyl records have soared by 1,300 percent over the last 10 years after languishing on life support for 15 years – first booted from the home entertainment system by the CD before the iPod took a swing and finally streaming services attempted the coup de grâce.
But vinyl kept spinning, hitting sales of 13 million units in 2014 after having sunk to 300,000 in 1993, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.
And the reason is not so hard to understand.
“In an increasingly digital age, vinyl records can provide a deeper, tactile connection to music that resonates with some of the biggest fans,” RIAA’s Josh Friedlander told CNBC. Half of the buyers are reported to be under 25, which is reflected in the top two selling LPs of 2015 – 25 by Adele and 1989 by Taylor Swift. But the next two bestsellers were Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd and Abbey Road by the Beatles, which were released in 1973 and ’69, respectively.
I eventually tracked down Grant Green and now play his stuff all the time, though, sadly, through my iPhone. I am starting to think about picking up a turntable and buying a few LPs. Maybe I will stop in soon to Kiam Records in my hometown of Nyack, New York, and buy an album, even though I have no way to play it. Yet.
A place for your audio gear: We offer a wide assortment of credenzas, shelving systems and consoles to hold your receiver, tape deck, CD and DVD player and, of course, that new turntable.
April is the month to celebrate record stores.
Record Store Day, held each April, celebrates the nearly 1,400 independent record stores across the U.S., and thousands more around the world. Local events include in-store performances, free refreshments, promotions and many other locally specific activities.
Following are a few of our favorite independent shops, and a few classics.
Atomic Records – Los Angeles
Records – Santa Barbara
Amoeba Music – San Francisco, Berkeley and Los Angeles
Aquarius Records – San Francisco
Rooky Ricardo’s – San Francisco
Streetlight Records – San Francisco
Boo Boo Records – San Luis Obispo
Twist & Shout – Denver
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Crooked Beat Records – Washington
Sweat Records – Miami
Wuxtry Records – Decatur, Athens
Sound Garden – Baltimore
Princeton Record Exchange – Princeton
Lunch Box Records – Charlotte
Grimey’s New & Preloved Music – Nashville