Anticipation is a powerful force, whether you’re waiting for your vacation to finally arrive or just trying to coax some ketchup out of the bottle. The more intense the expectation, the higher the probability of disappointment. With this in mind, I held my hopes in check as I watched Grimey’s Too go from blueprint to reality. A few proposed opening dates came and went, but finally, the “open” sign was posted and it was time to see what these entrepreneurs hath wrought.
As it turns out, my hopes were far exceeded by the execution. With Howlin’ Books and an outpost of local coffee brewers The Frothy Monkey sharing space with used vinyl, CDs and DVDs, it felt like the hippest Borders you never saw. The well-lit front room with high ceilings and attractive shelves made for an inviting entrance as I beelined for the used vinyl room. There, in luxurious space, I gleefully browsed the selections with several other shoppers.
Co-owner Doyle Davis noted that all of their used vinyl back stock has been pulled from a separate storage facility and is now in the basement of Grimey’s Too. Happily, this means that the selection upstairs will be refreshed frequently and the new check-in space means that they’ll have more room to take in and evaluate private collections. All of which should be welcome news to Music City’s vinyl enthusiasts.
Howlin’ Books, with its music-centric collection of tomes, has already hosted author events and book signings with regularly scheduled events planned for the future. On March 7th, Grimey’s Too presented their first in-store performance in the new building. Local chanteuse Caitlin Rose, fresh from a wildly successful UK tour to launch her new album The Stand-In, brought her crack band and set up in the front space.
Co-owner Mike Grimes and Davis stayed busy attending to details and wondering, with a little trepidation, what it would sound like in this untested room (again, that anticipation thing.) Fortunately, the acoustics proved ideal with Grimes providing an adept sound mix for Caitlin and her six man ensemble.
Less than 48 hours before the in-store took place, a surprise second performer was added. Multi-instrumentalist and whistling superstar Andrew Bird confirmed that he and his acoustic combo would play immediately after Caitlin. As Bird regularly sells out venues like the Ryman Auditorium, news that he would be playing a free show in an intimate venue energized his fan base, ensuring a capacity crowd for his performance.
The store filled up quickly, with a line snaking down the block of fans hoping in vain to get in. Bird and his band, including celebrated singer/guitarist Tift Merritt, played around a central pair of mics, bluegrass style, weaving in and out for dynamic effect.
Glancing at the printed set list, I noticed that Bird had written in several songs. Bird acknowledged this extended show length, advising the crowd, “Be sure and bend your knees every now and then, because we’re playing a healthy set!” Healthy it was, with the band on stage for over an hour, obviously relishing the chance to celebrate the opening of this independent cultural outpost.
As Record Store Day nears, the management team of Grimey’s and Grimey’s Too is finalizing plans for an all-day, dual store celebration. Check their website in the run-up to 4/20 and start saving your pennies for all those wonderful RSD releases!