As the third Saturday in April approaches, the pulse of music lovers accelerates. The most exciting, unofficial holiday you may not know about is Record Store Day.
In its fifth year, the event exalts the art of music, diehard fans and mom 'n' pop providers. The latter took a hit when digital music began to dominate the market, but the quick-click download still doesn't carry the same rush as snatching up a limited-edition import the minute it's shelved or the hour-long conversations with fellow music geeks at the checkout counter. Record Store Day brings that back in a big way and reminds us that this culture can survive.
What began as 300 participating indie stores and 10 exclusive releases has exploded into a worldwide collector's bonanza chock full of vinyl and CD rarities, promotional baubles, and artists in stores celebrated throughout 700 shops.
This year's list of releases is a testament to growth and diversity of supporting artists. Among this hot items are colored vinyl from Ryan Adams and Arcade Fire, a Buck Owens vintage coloring book oddity with flexi disc, and the Carolina Chocolate Drops' cover of Run-DMC's "You Be Illin." Folkie outfit Bowerbirds pressed a special 7-inch of their track "In the Yard." Like many artists, the band was compelled to contribute, having been embraced by smaller stores. "Local music stores carry albums that the bigger chains would never take a chance on, and often this is some of the best music out there," Bowerbirds singer Beth Tacular says.
Six Richmond record stores will participate in festivities, with no shortage of events to delight Record Store Day supporters. Steady Sounds promises Lamplighter coffee and country-style doughnuts for folks, and Plan 9 has worked with radio station WRIR 97.3-FM to fill its Carytown store with live music throughout the day including performances by the Trillions, Ohbliv and numerous DJ sets. "Our customers are excited, they line up early to get first crack at the limited editions, then there's the buying frenzy when the doors open," Plan 9 owner Jim Bland says. "It's a lot of fun for us to share that enthusiasm for record collecting."
The day isn't without its challenges. Tracy Wilson of Deep Groove Records says unpredictable and limited supply can be frustrating. "No store wants a shopper to leave their business without getting exactly what they came in there for and with the incredibly limited nature of most of the records that are released, there are traditionally too many fans and not enough records to go around," she says. "While I love the boost of energy and attention artists, labels, record stores and the act of collecting gets each time Record Store Day pops up on the calendar, in a perfect world we would have a music-loving community feeling that kind of enthusiasm all year long and have enough records to satiate their hunger."
Event co-founder Carrie Colliton echoes the sentiment. "Record Store Day brings attention once a year. That was our initial goal and the reason we do everything we do," she says. "So many people have said it to us, but it's true: Every day can be Record Store Day."
For information, go to recordstoreday.com.
WRIR Record Store Day events at Plan 9:
10-12: DJ Mike Rutz of Activate! (Wednesdays 7-9pm)
12-1:30 DJ Charlie Blevins of The All Nighter w/ Charlie (Tuesdays 3-6am)
2:15-3 DJ Charlie Blevins of The All Nighter w/ Charlie (Tuesdays 3-6am)
3-3:45 The Garbers
3:45-4:30 DJ Otto Konrad of Edge of Americana (Tues. 7-9pm)
5:15-6 DJ Otto Konrad of Edge of Americana (Tuesdays 7-9pm)
6-6:45 The Trillions
6:45-7:30 DJ Sonrisa of The Crunge (Mondays 3-6am)
8:15-9 DJ Sonrisa of The Crunge (Mondays 3-6am)