Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Record Stores Are Returning to Alabama

Way back in the 1990s I predicted that digital music would turn out to be a fad and that people who truly love music would eventually return to buying vinyl.   I was sort of right.  I don't think digital music will be going away at this point but I am happy to see that the other part of my prediction is coming true.   For me, CDs and downloads are handy for checking out historical collections and identifying songs I really like.  I will then go out and try to get a vinyl copy to actually listen to.   It seems that more and more people feel the same way.
Over the past several years there have been plenty of news stories about the vinyl resurgence.  And while many independent labels never stopped releasing vinyl, major labels who had abandoned the format are now pressing limited vinyl releases as well.

Record collectors, who have remained somewhat of a counter culture constant for the past 60 years or so have become the main movers behind vinyl's resurgence.   Many have formed collector clubs that host record shows and share their musical obsessions through radio shows, fanzines and blogs.

Collector labels like Sundazed and Norton among many others, have reissued rarities and made a huge catalog of vinyl available for those who don't have the luck, commitment or funds to get original copies.

Sadly, many independent record stores were not able to make it through the dark days when practically everyone carted their vinyl collection out to the trash.  Many who did survive have struggled but the tide is finally turning in their favor.

Since 2007, we have Record Store Day, an annual event designed to celebrate independent record stores with limited edition vinyl releases of all kinds.  And a whole new generation of USB turntables make it easy to create personal digital versions from vinyl to email to friends or play on that morning jog with the iPod.

Another funny thing is happening - people are actually opening new record stores and two have appeared in Alabama this year.  Again collectors are at the forefront of this trend. In April, vinyl collector Keith Glass opened Mobile Records at 140-B S. Sage Avenue in Mobile.

On Monday, July 2nd Jack Wilson and Ray Edwards will be opening their store Birmingham Records at 1103 Main Street in Gardendale.   At 8:30 that morning there will be a grand opening complete with refreshments and the Mayor of Gardendale officiating at the ribbon cutting.  So get there early to enjoy a doughnut and the ribbon cutting before you go shopping for some groovy treasures.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Alabama Record Collectors Association Record Show 2012

Photo by Jerry W. Henry
 It was an exciting weekend for music lovers at the Bessemer Civic Center where the ARCA's (website: http://alabamarecordcollectors.org/)  annual record and CD show was held on May 18 and 19.   The majority of offerings were vinyl of all formats - LPs, 45s and 78s, collector CDs were also well represented.

Photo by Jerry W. Henry
The great selection of music at affordable prices which made it well worth the trip.   Every year ARCA recognizes someone who's contributed to the local music scene at the show.  This year's  honoree was Birmingham DJ Lee Masters (read about him here).

Photo by Jerry W. Henry

The great thing about this show is that many of the sellers are from Alabama and have sections dedicated to music by Alabama artists. Also available were CD compilations of great Alabama garage band music on Cargo Mining Company Records label (http://www.cargorecords.net/).

To me record shows are so much fun because of the wild card factor - you never know what you'll turn up.  But it was a first when I pulled out a copy of "Unitar Rock" out of one of David Morrison's boxes of 45s and noticed that the original owner had writer her name "Sylvia Parker" in ink on the label.  I showed it to David,  told him my name was already written on the record and he threw it in for free!  

I always discover a great record by Alabama artists that I'd never know about before.  This show's find was "Meet Me In The Barnyard" released in 1958 by Phil Cay and The Blue Notes.  Seller, Joe Reddick informed me that the sax player on the record, Vince Oliver cuts his hair at his barber shop in Woodlawn.  The shop is kind of legendary and if you find yourself needing a trim in the Birmingham area check it out (http://www.bhamwiki.com/w/Hippodrome_Barber_Shop_)  Phil Cay now lives in Florida - here's his website: http://philcay.tripod.com/

You can hear Meet Me In The Barnyard on YouTube: