In rotation: 3/25/20

A NOTE TO OUR READERS: We’ve suspended our regular content this week to afford our team time to readjust to a new normal. We’ll continue to publish regular morning news updates this week as to be a resource for the vinyl and record store community during the Coronavirus pandemic.

As we wrote last week, continue to share the status of your record shops’ mode of operating at this time and we’ll share from our platforms—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram—and you can also share within our Record Store Locator app under the “social” tab. We’ll return to our regular content on Monday, March 30, 2020.

NJ | Record Store Day in NJ moves to June: It’s springtime in New Jersey. For me, National Record Store Day, in New Jersey, is a rite of spring. And, while the novel coronavirus has caused numerous cancellations (to put it mildly), it is merely postponing this day that means so much to those of us who love vinyl. The new date to keep in mind is Saturday June 20th. 36 independent New Jersey record stores are expected to participate…including stores in Trenton, Princeton, Marlton, Red Bank, Jersey City, Belmar, Bayville, Summit, and Asbury Park. I’ll be writing more about National Record Store Day in New Jersey, in the coming weeks, as details become available. Stay tuned.

Austin, TX | Vinyl Saved My Life Tonight: Record Stores Deliver in a Crisis: Local media emporiums maintain online shipping during C-19 lockdown. When local schools shut down suddenly on Friday, March 13, my wife swiftly descended on H.E.B. – along with half of Austin. Personally, I’d already begun hoarding earlier in the week: Waterloo Records, Antone’s Records, Half Price Books. When I walked into Breakaway Records around 4pm that day, not a soul stood in the front room. Cascading forth as unto Howard Carter in Tutankhamun’s tomb, treasures long sought materialized as if sent by the gods: a near mint Powerslave – one never, ever, ever finds vintage Iron Maiden, let alone for $19.99 – not one but two near mint LPs of Pink Floyd’s Meddle, and the haul’s dark horse, a $1 near mint-vinyl (but slightly beat cover) copy of Paul Simon’s Still Crazy After All These Years. Its Simon & Garfunkel reunion, “My Little Town,” is a freakin’ chip off “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.” “…We’ve been adding things to Discogs and our site as fast as we can. We’re shipping everything now, except for gear which we are arranging a drop off locally.”

Victoria, BC | Retired Victoria record store owner pens a poem for these ‘strange times’: Joey Scarfone offers his creative commentary on the scenario wrought by a pandemic. Joey Scarfone is a Victoria resident, retired goldsmith and author of Vintage Cars of Victoria – a beautifully illustrated book on just that. For a while he also owned his own record and music store, Lazy Joe’s Vinyl Emporium in Fernwood Square. Scarfone is also an amateur musician and photographer/ videographer who has a way with words and he’s sent Monday a heartfelt poem based on the “strange times” we’re in right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “These times are unprecedented,” he says of his motivation for writing the verses. “It’s how I deal with my anxiety, to be honest. As a human race we’re pretty helpless right now, we’re on the ropes.” A regular jammer at The Loft Pub on Gorge Road, he also worries about working musicians who are out of work. He notes that even busking on the street is not very effective given the lack of passersby – let alone those willing to use cash. Despite his misgivings about what the future holds, his poem does have an optimistic ending.

Fort Dodge, IA | Sweet Sound: At Greg’s Custom Shop, Hammen creates environment made for music. There’s a blue canvas chair that’s carefully situated in front of a turntable and in between two speakers at Greg’s Custom Shop, 2372 170th St. That blue chair is what owner Greg Hammen calls the sweet spot. That’s where the sound equilibrium exists. When the needle catches the groove of the black vinyl record, the music by “Heart” amplifies and fills the space. The guitar thumps, the drums kick. And Nancy Wilson’s voice carries. Cold late night so long ago. When I was not so strong you know — A pretty man came to me — never seen eyes so blue… It’s the closest thing Hammen can get to without actually being at a live concert. Move the chair a little bit to the left or to the right and you’ve lost the sweet spot. “I am introducing those frequencies into my real-time environment,” Hammen said. “If I’m listening to an album and I want to be totally taken in by it, the only way that can truly happen is if the sound engulfs you and takes you into that false environment and makes it real.”

Disco inferno: A fire at one of the world’s only lacquer manufacturing plants calls the future of vinyl into question. In early February, a three-alarm fire broke out at the Apollo Masters manufacturing and storage facility in Banning, California, one of the only producers of lacquer discs used for pressing vinyl records in the world. Nobody was hurt in the blaze, but the plant was almost completely destroyed. “We are uncertain of our future at this point and are evaluating options as we try to work through this difficult time,” the company explained in a short statement. For record labels, music fans, record stores and anyone else lashed to the medium, the news is devastating…Without Apollo producing more lacquer discs, the existing stock will soon be exhausted. The only alternative manufacturing process, direct metal mastering, is uncommon; currently, no pressing plants in America use it, and audiophiles often complain it yields a lower-quality result. All of this adds up to an existential threat to vinyl production.

Brighton, UK | Do you remember this Brighton record label? Many Brighton & Hove residents will be aware of one or two Brighton based and Brighton associated record labels from down the years. Arguably ‘Skint’ would more than likely be at the top of most people’s list, with them having been the main sponsor for Brighton & Hove Albion’s kit for an impressive nine years up until 2008 – which incidentally was one of the longest football league sponsorship deals. Other people may be able to quote ‘Bella Union’ records, due to the fact of their interesting selection of releases including John Grant material, and the fact that they are run by former Cocteau Twin, Simon Raymonde. However, back in those heady post-punk days of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, there was only ONE real label that was cataloguing the ‘sound of Brighton’ back then and that was ‘Attrix Records.’ This was THE label for emerging Brighton talent.

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