In rotation: 2/21/19

Washington, DC | Remembering DC Music Legend Skip Groff: A local musician looks back on his time as an employee—and customer—of Groff’s record store Yesterday and Today. A trip to Yesterday and Today Records was nothing short of a pilgrimage for a teenage suburban music fan like me in 1983. Two Ride On buses and a short hike up Rockville Pike got me from my family’s house in Kensington to a cramped storefront in a strip mall behind the Entenmann’s outlet, across from Heavenly Ham. In this unlikely location, amid the sprawl, sat an oasis filled with tens of thousands of records: LPs and a massive selection of 7” 45s—punk records, pop records, hit records, obscure records. At the center of the chaos, surrounded by these records he loved so much, was owner Skip Groff, who died Monday at age 70. He is survived by his wife Kelly and daughter Kirsty, named for British pop singer Kirsty MacColl. As my band Velocity Girl was getting started in the early 1990s I worked at the store on and off for a couple years. Skip had a profound impact on me as a musician, and I am glad to have been his friend.

Orlando, FL | Brothers, Jazz Cats, and Smokers: Music and Cannabis at Florida’s Foundation Records: Cool is a loose ideology, set by those who stand at its forefront. But its core can be seen inside Foundation—a small, unassuming record store that specializes in vintage clothing, vinyl, and insightful conversation with two unpretentious brothers. Located in the College Park neighborhood in Orlando, Florida, Alex and Peter Cohen have curated a spot with “cool” as its main descriptor. A lone clothing rack stands outside the storefront to entice curious passersby. Their window is slightly blocked by cassette tapes, stereos, and old toys (like a Steve Urkel doll). And if their door is open, best believe a slight fragrance of warm tobacco is wafting outside, along with the sounds of whatever psych rock or funk record Alex or Peter are gawking over for the week.

Wokingham, UK | Wokingham Town Centre’s Peach Place announces more independent businesses to open: Independent shops will be appearing at a new town centre development, promising to be a ‘home to niche businesses that will set it apart from the norm’. A bakery and tea room, vinyl record shop and a craft beer bar will be opening their doors to Peach Place, Wokingham Town Centre. Shoppers will get to enjoy a range of pastries and cakes at The Blue Orchid Bakery and Tea Room, or try a craft beer at Sit and Sip. As well as the Leafy Elephant already being announced at the towns first indepedent gin bar, residents will also get to discover their favourite vinyl at Beyond the Download record shop. Councillor Philip Mirfin, executive member for regeneration, said: “I am very pleased to welcome another three great new independents to the town.

Nottingham, UK | Historic CD and vinyl shop The Music Inn celebrates its 100th anniversary. The shop, formerly known as Papworth’s, used to be based in Alfreton Road: Whether it was on vinyl, CD or cassette, everybody remembers the first album they bought. For many people in Nottingham that piece of music would have been purchased from The Music Inn, or as it was previously known, Papworth’s, in Alfreton Road. The company has witnessed for itself the decline in physical music sales over the last few years but unlike many of its competitors has weathered the storm. Today, owner David Rose is able to take stock of his family-run firm, now based in the West End Arcade, as the company celebrates its 100th anniversary. He said: “Its marvellous to have that continuation of history. “I get people coming in every week saying ‘I remember buying this off your dad’ and that sort of thing. It is a wonderful thing to have and there can’t be too many businesses that can say that. It’s lovely to have this shared history.”

Vancouver, CA | Drop the needle, vinyl record pressing returns to Vancouver. Clampdown Record Pressing Inc. set to begin production this spring: The needle is about to drop for local musicians, bands and record labels yearning to do something they haven’t been able to in Vancouver for almost 30 years: press their own vinyl records. Ever since Praise Records in Burnaby closed its doors in 1991, vinyl purists have had to look beyond our borders in order to manufacture records. In the early 1990s, even though the format was pretty much declared dead by the major labels, vinyl was the preferred format for independent bands like mine, the Smugglers. We had to search far and wide to make it a reality, and our first few records were manufactured at United Records Pressing in Nashville, Tenn. The imminent return of vinyl pressing to Vancouver is thanks to East Van rocker and entrepreneur Billy Bones, lead singer of the Vicious Cycles and former owner of Sparrow Guitars. Clampdown Record Pressing Inc. is set to begin production this spring and is already taking orders.

Review: Hands-On With Yamaha’s VINYL 500 Wireless Turntable + MusicCast 20 Wireless Speakers: Yamaha is tackling two of the biggest trends in home audio head on: the growing popularity of turntables, and the demand for multiroom streaming audio. Over the holidays I had the opportunity to test out the company’s new VINYL 500 Wi-Fi turntable, along with a pair of MusicCast 20 wireless speakers. The combination is the closest I’ve experienced yet to wireless, record listening Nirvana. Before getting into specifics about the system, I want to touch on MusicCast. This is Yamaha’s high-fidelity wireless streaming standard. It uses Wi-Fi connectivity and is controlled by a MusicCast app (available for iOS and Android), with multiroom support for up to 10 connected devices and the option of setting up two wireless speakers as a stereo pair. While MusicCast can accept input from a Bluetooth source, by sticking with Wi-Fi (or a physical connection using Ethernet) it supports lossless, 24-bit audio including Apple AirPlay, WAV, FLAC and AAIF.

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