In rotation: 1/29/20

Houston, TX | Best of Houston 2020, Best Record Store: Cactus Music. Record stores have found ways to remain alive and even thrive in entertainment’s digital era. Cactus Music’s diverse offerings form a blueprint for how it’s done. For one, it has name recognition built over 40 years of business here, giving it the same status as shops like Amoeba in California or Minneapolis’ famed Electric Fetus. Cactus stocks its racks with diverse music offerings including loads of vinyl for buyers eagerly pushing the medium’s resurgence. There are books, T-shirts, coffee mugs, posters and assorted music merch on hand and the store sometimes teams with local venues to promote approaching concerts… Cactus’s in-store performance events are more than just a fun time where shoppers can sip a free Saint Arnold brew to live music. For local musicians these spots have almost become mandatory for growing an audience or promoting a new release. Sometimes the showcases draw national acts like L.A. folk rockers Dawes or music writers promoting new books; but when a local band is on its stage, it’s a perfect moment where music leaps from alpha-ordered shelves and into our hearts.

Atlanta, GA | Atlanta-area record shop finds temporary home in neighboring music store after blaze: His Rock Music in Cumming erupted in flames earlier this month, but has now found temporary refuge at Ponce De Leon Music Center. After His Rock Music in Cumming erupted in flames earlier this month, destroying thousands of dollars worth of vinyl records and music equipment, the community has been quick to step up to help store owner Bob Johnson. First, a member of Johnson’s church launched a GoFundMe to help him recover some of his losses, then area musicians started planning a benefit concert, which will take place on Feb. 8. Now, a neighboring music store has taken Johnson in while he works to rebuild his business. Johnson first opened his store more than a decade ago. Originally located in Dawsonville, it relocated to Cumming five years ago. The store was in the process of moving again, this time to downtown Cumming, when the fire broke out. With the help of his community, business is getting back on its feet.

UAE | Off the cuff: Off the shelf and over the counter. How a vintage store helps one reconnect with the days gone by. I was in an old shop the other day — the sort that is full to the brim with all sorts of things. The sign on the front window drew me in. It advertised a Brexit fire sale. There was a bookcase filled with old dog-eared paperbacks, the sort that you used to pick up at airport shops on your way somewhere, or packed in your suitcase if you were heading off to the beach for a week. You could almost smell the old sun cream from past holidays reeking from their pages. There were signs with little ditties that young people put up in new rooms to make them look old. Doesn’t that sort of defeat the purpose in one way? Why not leave them old without going to the bother of doing them up in the first instance? There were a couple of antique irons there. Not the sort of antique irons that you had to put in front of a roaring coal fire to heat up, but the sort with frayed electrical cords and holes that hissed steam when you wanted to get the creases out of a good shirt before you went on a hot date with a girl who had the ability to crease your pants too

Atlanta, GA | What’s old is new again: Dungeons & Dragons, combats boots, vinyl records are back in vogue: It’s true – pretty much everything old can become new again. Dungeons & Dragons, the role-playing game in which fate can change with a toss of the dice, is racking up the best sales in its 46-year history. Teens weaned on iTunes are falling in love with vinyl. And fashionistas are stomping all over Instagram and Pinterest in combat boots. Sharing items enjoyed by earlier generations helps families, friends and peers find a new way to connect, experts say. “In today’s turbulent world, a lot of consumers take comfort in the designs of the past,” says Neil Saunders, managing director of the retail consultancy GlobalData. “There is something reassuring about retro products, many of which are also seen as being authentic because of their heritage.” From left, Nicholas Prescott, 21, Lucas Davey, 22, and Austin Anderson, 21, all of Plymouth, N.H., get together every Sunday to play an old-school game, Dungeons & Dragons, one of the retro items and experiences that are back in fashion.

Telluride, CO | Confessions of a vinyl addict: Saving money is hard when you have an addiction as severe as mine. Paydays turn into shopping sprees. The bank account seemingly never recovers to previous semi-prosperous levels. You spend hours online searching the web for deep cuts and first pressings. You lose sleep thinking of obscure one-offs like Slayer’s recently released “Praying to Satan: Paris Broadcast 1991” or the Pixie’s “In Heaven: Live At The Emerson College 1987 – FM Broadcast.” If you find yourself in a record store filled with your musical leanings, you turn into a fiend, combing the bins, racks and every square inch for more hot wax and other physical format goodies. It’s the thrill of the hunt more than anything, especially for metal fans. Metal music isn’t as widely available, though I did buy the new Killswitch Engage and Slipknot CDs at Target, and Walmart sells Motley Crue and Metallica vinyl, which is weird, but those bands have become mainstream and pop culture brands by now. When I bought the KSE and Slipknot records, the young cashier asked, “Oh, what are these? DVDs?” I died a little. The heyday of tape trading and fanzines is about as far in the past as 8-tracks. CDs have apparently joined them.

Derbyshire, UK | Woman gets revenge on her ‘cheating’ ex-husband by turning his beloved record collection into her new kitchen Floor: A mother-of-three got revenge on her ‘cheating’ ex-husband by turning his record collection in to her new kitchen floor. Sonia Barton, 47, wanted to overhaul her old kitchen after living in her home in Belper, Derbyshire for 13 years. The children’s entertainer spent hundreds of hours over a whole year transforming her kitchen piece by piece as part of her forever home. As part of the transformation, she opted to use some of the vinyl records left behind by her ex-husband – who she claims cheated – to redecorate her kitchen floor.The collection includes records from Dire Straits, Yaz, Hands Up, Showaddywaddy and Paper Lace. She said: ‘Some of them are my ex-husband’s. It amuses me, it makes me laugh every time I walk in the kitchen and see them. ‘Each section is bordered by small tiles because I didn’t want to do it all in one go so I could still use my kitchen.’ In response, her ex-husband Jason Burt told the Mail: ‘I’m not saying anything. I haven’t got a reaction to this.’

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