In rotation: 2/20/19

Washington, DC | Record store owner, early DC punk producer Skip Groff dies at 70: Skip Groff, whose Yesterday & Today record store in a strip shopping center in Rockville, Maryland, became ground zero in the early days of D.C.’s punk and alternative music scenes, has died at age 70. Groff’s wife of 31 years, Kelly Groff, told WTOP that her husband had a seizure at their Montgomery County home Monday night. He died at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center. Born Frank Groff in Waltham, Massachusetts, in 1948, his wife said Groff and his parents had lived on an Air Force base, and settled in Suitland, Maryland, when he was in fifth or sixth grade. “His mom called him Skipper when he was little,” Kelly Groff said. “At some point, he needed a radio name,” so Skip stuck.

Stroud, UK | Record shop to celebrate one year with acoustic duo: A record shop is celebrating its first year in Nailsworth this month with two exciting events. Ahead of the international Record Store Day in April, Sanctuary Music at 42 Nailsworth Mills is hosting an acoustic duo on Thursday, February 28 from 5pm to 8pm. ‘Wars Against Reality’ comprises fiancés Josh, who is 23 and has just completed as degree in music production, having been playing guitar since the age of 8, and Aria, who is 19 and has had a passion for singing for as long as she can remember. The store also has plans for Record Store Day 2019 itself on Saturday, April 13 – Sanctuary Music will be announcing its line-up of artists, musicians and activities shortly.

Discogs sold almost 11 million records last year: Online vinyl marketplace Discogs sold almost 11 million records in 2018. Doubling up as a record year for the website, it 10,912,527 items across the year – a 8.6% sales increase over 2017. The figures were revealed as part of the company’s annual Data and Trends report. A rare, Canadian production copy of Prince’s ‘Black Album’ was a record-breaking individual sale at $27,500, while a copy of Sex Pistols ‘God Save the Queen’ went for $15,822. Sales of cassettes, meanwhile, saw a 24.08% increase over 2018. In terms of genres, electronic music accounted for 10.01% of sales, coming in second to rock music, which claimed 15.29% of the overall total.

Queens, NY | CARIBBEAT: Queens-based VP Records marks 40 years of successfully spreading Caribbean reggae, dancehall and soca music around the world: Happy, happy 40th birthday to VP Records — the Caribbean-rooted mom-and-pop music store that grew into the world’s largest independent recording company for reggae, dancehall and soca music, based in Jamaica, Queens. The company — originally started as a small store in Kingston, Jamaica, by the late Vincent (Randy) Chin and his wife, Patricia Chin — will be celebrating its four decades with a yearlong list of activities in the U.S., Toronto and London. “VP is integral to the history of reggae and dancehall music. We take this responsibility seriously and we are using our 40th anniversary to celebrate the music’s rich heritage as we steward the genre into the future,” said Randy Chin, the co-founders’ son who runs the firm with his mother and brother Christopher.

Porsche immortalises 919 Hybrid LMP1 with vinyl records made from own tyres: In 2017, Porsche waved farewell to the Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1) Class after achieving three consecutive overall victories with its 919 Hybrid and now its getting immortalised. With Porsche and the legendary 24-hours of Le Mans endurance racing dating back decades, the German sports car builder has decided to use the wheels of its race car to create “The 24 Minutes of Le Mans” soundtrack. The discs feature the soundtrack the history of Porsche at the French race track on a 24 symbolic vinyl record set – each containing a 24-minute narration of the biggest victories, the hardest defeats, the most exciting moments and the most personal insights into the inspiration of drivers and teams. It will tell of Porsche’s history at the French race, which will be narrated by racing ‘royalties’ and Le Mans legends that include Dr Wolfgang Porsche who describes his experiences at the race as a boy.

How streaming music could be harming the planet: The plastic and packaging that comes with CDs and vinyl makes them seem worse for the environment, but the popularity of music streaming services may be polluting in other ways. …Current digital technology, however, gives us flawless music quality without physical deterioration. Music is easy to copy and upload, and can be streamed online without downloading. Since our digital music is less tangible than vinyl or CDs, surely it must be more environmentally friendly? Even though new formats are material-free, that doesn’t mean they don’t have an environmental impact. The electronic files we download are stored on active, cooled servers. The information is then retrieved and transmitted across the network to a router, which is transferred by wi-fi to our electronic devices. This happens every time we stream a track, which costs energy.

So Retro: Recording today’s music on analog tape: Using vintage recording equipment, Linear Labs gives modern music a vinyl vibe. Behind a combination record store/beauty salon, Linear Labs in Los Angeles looks like a recording studio from back in the day, with reel-to-reel tape machines and vintage microphones. There are no computers or plug-ins or digital recordings. The studio is the brainchild of musician, artist and producer Adrian Younge, who has recorded music with Snoop Dog and Wu-Tang Clan, and collaborated with Ali Shaheed Muhammad on the Luke Cage soundtrack. Younge has spent 20 years building out the studio, scouring eBay, Craigslist and vintage shops for equipment to record in high fidelity. The result is a studio designed to make music that captures the feeling of yesterday for today.

Brooklyn, NY | Anatomy of an independent record store: For those not familiar with Weeksville, historically it was the first African American settlement in the borough of Brooklyn; some of the historic homes have been preserved on the Weeksville grounds. Among the musicians, arts & social community activists we interviewed for that oral history project, one of the most colorful was Joe Long, proprietor of the classic independent record store Birdel’s. Can you name another community record store whose clientele ranged from Randy Weston and Miles Dong>, to Biggie Smalls and Jay Z? Birdel’s was the place. Here’s our conversation with Joe Long.

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