How many of you reading this still go to the record store to buy your albums? How many of you gave up this practice in favour of the "conveniences" of modern technology like downloading, streaming, and the like? Well, for those of you who still do the former, you already know how great going to the record store is. For those of you who do the latter, wow, you don't know what you're missing.
But this Saturday, April 20, 2013, is a great day for everyone to get out and discover their local, independent record store. Record Store Day is fast approaching and for music fans everywhere, this is like Christmas is April. This isn't so much for the HMV's or FYE stores of the world, although there are some chain stores that are participating. This is for the local store, the independent store in your hometown. Places like Sonic Boom in Toronto, Ontario, Vinyl Alibi in my hometown of Bowmanville, or the king of all independent record stores, Grimey's in Nashville, Tennessee. Record Store Day is a celebration of music and artistry, as well as celebrating the place of the local record store in ones community.
There was a time, long before the internet, iPods and music "sharing", the local record store was one of the most important gathering places in a community. It was a place to talk and truly listen to music. It was a place to celebrate the art of music. Growing up in Toronto in the 1970's and 1980's, our place to celebrate the art of music was at Sam the Record Man. Sam's was, in every sense of the word, an iconic record store. With its famous spinning-record neon sign that measured about 50 feet in the air over Yonge Street in downtown Toronto, it was truly the most famous record store in Canada. It would host record release functions and host concerts by the famous and not so famous promoting their works. If you needed to find a rare release, you went to Sam's. That original Sam the Record Man store has long since closed, and it left a void on the record store scene in Toronto that I'm not so sure has been filled to this day. There are many independent stores that are successful, but there is nothing like Sam the Record Man.
But this write up is about Record Store Day and celebrating your local record store. What's so good about a record store? Well, if you haven't been or are not in to buying records or CD's, then truly you don't know what you're missing. A record store is a lot like a book store. You can touch and feel the albums, check out the song titles and songwriter credits, as well as find out about the musicians who played on the record. The artwork on some of the album covers is incredible. The only way to truly appreciate that artwork is to physically hold it in your hand. Perhaps the best thing about buying an entire album, is that you get to hear the entire album. Most of the time, some of the best songs on an album are the ones that don't get released as a single to radio. The only way you get to hear them is by purchasing the album, and there is nothing wrong with that. At the very least purchasing the album shows that every now and again, some patience and investment of time has its reward ... it doesn't always have to be about the instant gratification of downloading one song from an artist.
Saturday April 20. Record Store Day 2013. If you don't have plans this Saturday, go and check out your local record store. Click here for the web site to see about participating stores in your area. Many stores will be having live music all day, as well as other events to mark the occasion. Head on out and celebrate music, local talent and one of the most important yet underrated establishments in your community. I'll even have some suggested albums for you to purchase when you're out and about. Don't worry, if your local store doesn't have the album that you want, chances are very good they will order it for you. That's the beauty of an independent store ... they can do what they want.