Sunday, April 21, 2013

Jump on in that ol' Band Wagon || Record Store Day || April 20, 2013

A few years back I had heard the tales of Record Store Day.  I have always been behind Record Stores.  It started for me in High School.  I can pinpoint it even further to Mr. Cauter's Music Appreciation Class, deep in the cement bowels of California High School.  As a teen, I had heard rumors that this was the coolest class in town, especially for music lovers.  James Cauter would take young minds through the History of Music with a large dose of Beatles due to his "Beatle Friday" segment.  The highpoint would be the field trip into Berkeley to go record shopping.  Cauter's objective was to expose the valley kids in suburban San Ramon to something a little deeper within the confines of the musical acquisition library, mom & pop record stores, specializing in obscure albums and cheap used records.  A used record?  I had never heard of this concept.  At Wherehouse Records or the two mall mainstays, Rainbow Records and Musicland, you could get anything beyond the Eagles and Rick Springfield.  A brand spanking new dimension for a young impressionable mind.

That trip introduced me to record stores like Rasputins, Tower Records & Leopolds along with Blondie's Pizza and Aardvarks Odd Ark.  We started taking monthly trips out to Berkeley and Walnut Creek.  Trying to find obsure, new wave and metal albums with all our buddies.  I didn't own a car so it came down to bumming a ride with any friend who was willing to take an adventure or taking the Bus to Walnut Creek and hopping on BART and out to Berkeley.  What wonderful adventures exploring new cities and new music all at the same time.  I remember when we had heard about this record store called "Asta's Records" over on the other side of town off college avenue in Oakland.  There we discovered their pile of weekly brought in imports from Europe.  We were stoked!

The twelve inch album has always held a place close to my heart.  Ever since my parents upgraded their stereo system and gave me the old 60s stereo console I was hooked (besides the radio it only played records).  My brother was a new adapter, heavy into tapes and when CDs came along, he was the first one I knew of with a CD player.  He toted the quality of sound and the infinite life of a CD.  I poo poo'd the price and the minimal detail of information only found on an object of 12 inches.  I kept buying records.  I had a nice collection.  That collection was halted in the 90s when corporations were not pressing LPs and the necessity of being in college, poor, and light in my travels drove me into the CD market.  There I got lost.

As time went on and technology grew more powerful I found myself like many americans of today, downloading MP3s and listening, discovering and gobbling up music all digitally.  The waves of sound kept coming faster and faster in my soul.  Last year I realized that I may be still listening to a lot of music, but I wasn't really "listening".  It was all just background noise in my life.  I needed to slow down my own process and really listen and enjoy music.  I dusted off my old record collection and started listening again.  I started buying records.  I would go out to my record player in the studio and just listen to a side of an album.  Really listen.  It has helped me slow down in this fast pace world and focus on just a few thoughts.  Music.  And what attracted me to it in the first place.  I don't ever want to lose that.  I want to hold onto that concept and more importantly pass it along to my children.  Which brings us to current day.

A few weeks ago my sister passed along all our old childhood disney story book records.  My daughter and I have been listening to them quite a bit.  She loves the concept of the record and the needle and the stories that are told.  I love passing along heritage.  So when Record Store Day popped into my consciousness again yesterday I decided to make a date out of it with her.  We sourjourned to a packed Streetlight Records on Bascom in San Jose, where she picked up her own first long playing record; Chip & Dale sing and tell stories with Donal Duck.  Afterwards we went to 7Eleven and got some Slurpees.  She was stoked and I was reminiscent of my own childhood trips to record stores with my own father.  A tradition has begun.  We will faithfully follow the tradition of supporting small, independent record stores on this one day of the year.  And maybe take a trip or two back during other days too.