Not everyone remembers carefully flipping through endless bins of vinyl at their local record store. To those that do, the listening station is their holy grail, the place they looked to for inspiration, whether it be from Elvis Costello, the Ramones, Iggy Pop, Led Zeppelin or thousands others. Music enthusiasts, both young and old, are the ones who keep the tradition of local independent record stores alive.
Record Store Day was created in 2007 to celebrate this feeling associated with independent record stores. The internationally recognized day highlights the culture and the unique role that record stores play in their communities. It brings together the staff, customers, artists and fans with special live performances and limited edition vinyl and CD releases.
Every third Saturday in April (this year April 19), people flock to their favorite indie record store for performances, meet-and-greets with artists, cook-outs, djs spinning some of the exclusives and other various festivities.
Burger Records is one of the local independent stores (and record label) that opened in 2008 in Fullerton. Their website describes themselves as “a rock n roll philanthropic quasi-religious borderline-cultish propaganda spreading group of suburban perma-teen mutants.” Sean Bohrman, owner of Burger Records and co-founder of the label, has been participating in Record Store Day every April for the past four years.
“It’s definitely our biggest day of the year and it’s just getting bigger and bigger,” Bohrman said. “People connect through music. Kids are realizing that vinyl special, and that’s why it’s exciting, the fact that you’re discovering music in record stores and flipping through bins of old and new music. You never know what you’re going to find.”
He explained that vinyl is an important part of the music world that will be around forever because records are not disposable.
“It’s something personal and physical that you can hold and collect and keep,” Bohrman said. “Sound quality is also better. If you have a good setup, it will sound crystal clear better than any MP3, CD or tape.”
Greg Meyer owns Port of Sound Record Shoppe in Costa Mesa, which opened in 2011. Port of Sound, often described as one of the most organized record stores in Orange County, also participates in Record Store Day and Meyer says they work really hard to try to get every title that’s released.
“We open early and as a small business, we appreciate the extra business it brings in,” Meyer said.
He attributed the reemerging interest in vinyl to the increasing amount of access.
“There was a limited amount of vinyl available from the early ‘90s through the beginning to mid 2000s,” Meyer said. “Now, when bands come out with new music, they make more vinyl than any other physical format.
Meyer said that the popularity of records has grown due to the ‘cool factor’ that goes along with it.
“Records are also just so nostalgic,” Meyer said. “The first record I bought was in 1976. I was in fourth grade and it was Elton John’s Greatest Hits.”
Josh Senne, a music major, thinks that Record Store Day is a beautiful concept.
“I think the fact that people are willing to give you discounts and free stuff to encourage buying actual physical records is really nice because there’s so much pirating,” Senne said. “Digital downloads are convenient and instant, but its much more nice to have the physical record.”
Senne is looking forward to celebrating Record Store Day this year at Coachella.
“The record store they have on the fairgrounds will still have the same discounts and deals and special releases,” Senne said. “Last year one of my friends got a bunch of old CDs of bands that were at Coachella during Record Store Day for around $10.”
On the other hand, Bill Evans, owner of Black Hole Records in downtown Fullerton, is frustrated with the Record Store Day, even though he has participated every year since it started. Black Hole Records opened in 1986 and joined forces with Stray Cat Vintage and Costumes in 1991.
“In theory, Record Store Day is a great idea, but now people are adding cassettes and CDs when it’s supposed to be about vinyl,” Evans said. “It’s about supporting your local record store and originality and where things started.”
Evans said that there are many titles and special exclusives that only big retailers like Amoeba Records can get their hands on. He finds this ironic because Record Store Day is supposed to be about the local mom and pop independent stores.
“The guy that started record store day didn’t invent records being sold again; it’s just that kids are now the ones buying them,” Evans said. “Everyday kids are the ones who changed the music world. They are buying new bands as well as the old stuff like Bowie, Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, the Stones, you name it.”
Exclusives for 2014 to be expected include: limited edition 10” vinyl of “The Animals EP”; a remaster David Bowie’s “1984” on picturedisc; Cage The Elephant’s 7” vinyl of “Take It Or Leave It” plus the exclusive unreleased song “Jesse James”; Grateful Dead two LP set “Live at Hampton Coliseum” from their first appearance in May 1979; Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes “Live at the Greek” 3-disc red, clear, blue vinyl pressing; Nirvana 7” vinyl “Pennyroyal Tea/I Hate Myself and Want To Die” originally cancelled due to Kurt Cobain’s death.