In honor of Record Store Day, which this year took place on April 19th (though is always the third Saturday of April), we thought we would give you the lowdown on the annual event this day has become. Record Store Day came into being in 2007 when over 700 independent stores in the USA came together to celebrate their unique culture. The UK followed suit and 2014 will see the seventh celebration of the UK’s unique independent sector. This is the one-day that all of the independently owned record stores come together with artists to celebrate the art of music. Special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products are made exclusively for the day and hundreds of artists across the globe make special appearances and performances. Festivities include performances, meet & greets with artists, DJ’s, in store quizzes and many other events. It also now includes Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Canada, France, Mexico, Italy and Spain.
As for the events of Record Store Day itself, there are a variety of them and they differ from country to country. First and foremost there are a lot of releases from artists and labels alike specifically for this day. Expect surprise releases and lots of in-store appearances all-around. This is a great chance for bands to get directly in front of their fans at their favorite local stores, so it is often a chance to get bands that are big enough to have you saying, “I can’t believe they are playing in this tiny shop.”
This year’s ambassador for record store day was Chuck D, co-founder and vocalist of the pioneering Hip Hop group Public Enemy and 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee (past ambassadors have included such legendary performers as Iggy Pop, Jack White of the White Stripes, and Ozzy Osbourne, to name a few). He explains the relationship of fan to store as a mutually beneficial one in saying that record stores are a “sort of second rite of passage after the live radio or TV performance. Motown’s Berry Gordy had a record store, Elektra founder Jac Holzman had a record store, the STAX label had their Satellite Record Shop right next to their studio. Keith Richards opens a conversation with Mick Jagger as teenagers on a UK train platform because he had a stack of hot blues records in his arms after leaving a shop. Well you should have an idea of what I’m saying here.”
He goes on to say that, “The record store made musicians listen beyond themselves. It both complemented and supplemented the radio, in fact the best radio stations in the past followed the vibe of the record stores of their regions, thus growing and nurturing each other. The fans and listener had everything to gain, and if they wanted to get into making music, the Record Store turned into their first school and sonic passport out.”
Lastly, since we all travel so much here in Kuwait, here are a couple of record shops you need to know in the towns known for making great music. In each city, we give you the big boy on the block, and the smaller guy, respectively; though if they are mentioned at all they are the best of the best. While there is not enough space in this column to get into the ins and outs of each store, stopping by any one of these could be a life changing experience…
LA: Amoeba Music; and Fingerprints Music (Long Beach).
NYC: Rough Trade (Brooklyn), and Good Records.
London: Rough Trade East, and Honest Jon’s.
Inside/Out is brought to you by a secret hoarder of records old and new. It’s a problem…really!