“When I was in high school there was a great place in Towson, MD called Record and Tape Traders. It started out in a house off York Road and later moved into a little storefront further north in town. Anyway, back in the day, I got tons of cool used things there, and for cheap – singles $1.50, albums 3 bucks — new wave, mod, 60s stuff, all kinds of things – the place was an education…”
“A few miles west, in Pikesville, was Music Machine which had a more refined, curated, import and rarities-oriented stock (Spring ’82, when The Jam played at University of Maryland, Paul Weller came in and bought 600 bucks worth of psychedelia – a guy I knew who worked in the store rang him up and recounted the tale – more than once.)
Further south, in Mt. Washington, was Chick’s Legendary Records, housed in a beat-up Victorian — a real boho, patchouli-scented place — but full of lots of interesting, used new wavey platters and, as such, embodying that short-lived ‘hippy-meets-punk’ cultural interbreeding that existed for a while in underground circles.
Later, in Richmond, I spent a lot of time in Plan 9. I lived in the Fan neighborhood near to where it’s (still) located and I used to go there almost every day. You never knew when you were going to find something cool – and you usually did.”
“Back in the early 80s I worked in both former Kemp Mill Records stores in Georgetown, the one on Wisconsin Avenue (now a Gap), and the one on M Street.”
“I remember stocking The Smiths’ Hatful of Hollow and Meat is Murder and playing them a lot in the store. At the time I was fairly mod, with some new wave-ish leanings. The debate when getting ready to go to work was often whether to leave on or wash off the previous night’s eyeliner…
Working at the M Street store one day, I came out of the back stock room and noticed the store had emptied out. Heading to the front, I saw people were outside not being allowed in. There was one guy flipping through the R&B section, with a big quiff and a kind of Edwardian purple coat.
I went over to the manager at the register and whispered something like, ‘Hey, check out that loser dressed like a Prince wannabe.’ He said, “Um, that IS Prince.” The purple one passed right by me when leaving – he was super short and looked at me with a terrified look like, ‘Where did you come from?’”
“I grew up in Philadelphia, which had a bunch of great independent record stores like Third Street Jazz, the Philadelphia Record Exchange, and Chaos. But since I was a suburban, tweenage punk rocker, those places may as well have been in Saudi Arabia. Consequently, I was forced to cadge rides from my Benetton-obsessed older sister to the Willow Grove Mall, where I would spend hours combing the racks of the Listening Booth while she shopped for clothes.”
Even though it was a chain store in a shopping mall in an impossibly dull suburb, Listening Booth had a great selection of hardcore punk albums. And I seemed to be the only person buying them. I picked up so many great records there, it’s ridiculous: Out Of Step; SS Decontrol’s Get It Away; the first Die Kreuzen LP; Dag Nasty’s Can I Say; and TSOL’s Beneath The Shadows, to name just a few. I also scored the Angry Samoans’ Inside My Brain there. That one really bummed my mom out because the cover features a woman with an axe in her head and the lyrics to “You Stupid Asshole” are pretty misogynistic. When I got older and had access to a car, I abandoned the mall and spent my days haunting the indie stores downtown. But it was the Listening Booth that really shaped my tastes.”
“In the late 70s when I was starting to build my record collection, there were only a handful of shops in DC that carried the kind of music I was listening to. I worked at one of them: Orpheus Records in Georgetown.”
“My two friends, Rick and Gerry, helped to expose me to a lot of music that was outside of my comfort zone: primarily jazz, folk, and blues. Every penny I earned went into my record collection.
For the music I was primarily focused on – punk rock – there were even fewer places to shop. First and foremost was Yesterday And Today. That was where I bought most of my singles. Early on, Record and Tape Ltd., later known as Olsson’s, was one of the few places that carried punk imports in central DC, without having to make the trek to Y&T in Rockville. Given the dearth of radio and music periodicals in DC’s nascent punk scene, I bought quite a bit based on the label or the cover art. I was quite thin in those days, as it was easier to skip meals than pass up getting the one copy of an import Killing Joke or UK Subs LP that found its way to our local shops.
Years later record stores exploded throughout DC: Vinyl Ink, Go, Smash, Flying Saucer Discs, to name but a few. I loved them all.”
Dot Dash’s sophomore release Winter Garden Light is on store shelves now!