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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Happy Record Store Day!

Thank you and happy record store day to all of my friends on the record store frontlines! Independent record stores played a significant role in shaping who I am today and I'm grateful for every single one I've ever had the privilege to set foot in.

By the end of Junior High I realized that K-Mart, Musicland, and Woolworths weren't cutting it so I started riding my bike to Rainbow Records in Western Springs, Rose Records, Music Warehouse and Flipside in Downers Grove, and Whistle Stop (blue jeans and records!) in Hinsdale.

Soon I discovered used records via Beautiful Day in LaGrange, Looney Tunes in Lombard, and Remember When in Westmont. On Saturday's I'd to take my Stepdad's Metra pass and take the train into the Loop to hit Rock Records and a crappy record store whose I forget, but they had a killer budget rack full of new wave albums. Plus there was a DJ shop where I first saw scratching and mixing live and bought a bunch of breakbeat records even though I had clue what they were for. I just knew everyone else there was excited that they just arrived so I had to have a few myself.

Once a few of my friends got drivers licenses my record buying options exploded. Hegewisch, Rave On (Wheaton), Val's Halla (Oak Park), and Rolling Stones were added to the mix. And then the holy grail of record stores: Wax Trax! Going to Wax Trax felt like Christmas morning and I'm confident that I never walked out there without at least one record that blew my mind and started a whole new music kick.

In college (Carbondale) we had Plaza Records and Wuxtrys. Plus there were regular jaunts to St Louis to hit Vintage Vinyl and Champaign for Record Swap. Soon after, my friends Mike and Kevin and I started all day record runs in Chicago that started in Wrigleyville and took us to stores like Reckless, Blackout/Pravada, Dr. Wax, 2nd Hand Tunes, and various used records that seemed to appear and disappear overnight. Plus there was Video Beat for your bootleg VHS needs.

After college I worked at the same Rose Records I had spent so money at in high school. And then I was fortunate to work in the record business for the next two decades dealing primarily with independent retailers. Not only did I make many friends and have some of the best music fan conversations under the guise of work, I was also to visit even more indie record shops throughout the Midwest. And of course, buy a shitload of records.

I could never name them all, but I have especially fond memories of Waterloo in Austin; Periscope and Village Green in Champaign; Let It Be in Minneapolis; Atomic in Milwaukee; Jazz Record Mart, Dusty Groove, and Quaker Goes Deaf in Chicago; Cactus in Austin; Streetside in St Louis; Exclusive Company in Wisconsin; Record Rev in Dekalb; Crows Nest in Naperville and Crest Hill; and as soon as I post this I'm going to think of ten more that should be included here. Plus most vacations I've ever gone on have included a record store diversion, which led to places like Amoeba and Mod Lang in California and Kims Underground in New York. Post record biz my favorite shop is Laurie's Planet of Sound.

Thank you again to all of my friends at independent record stores and to anyone that ever took a crappy paying job behind a record counter because the trade-off of being able to play music, talk about music, and turn people onto new music was worth it. Happy Record Store Day everyone!

*RECYCLING ALERT: this post is a revised version of something I wrote a few RSD's ago.


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