Freewheelin on Jones Street in Greenwich Village

My son took me on a revelatory side-excursion in Greenwich Village yesterday as he turned me on to a “new” vinyl record store, Record Runner. Matthew loves to shop there and I became an immediate fan. As an avid music collector these past 50+ years I savor the moments spent browsing vinyl stacks in well-organized and managed record stores.

Record Runner is located on 5 Jones Street, New York City, NY. I was taken with the store owner’s interaction with customers as Matt and I flipped through the bins. It was fun to see him assume the role of tourist guide with Japanese customers as he explained the significance of Jones Street in record album photographic history.  Bob Dylan is a favorite son when it comes to the Village. Many of the local record stores feature Dylan’s music recordings lining their walls.

The famous photograph of Bob Dylan and Suze Rotolo was taken in February 1963 by Don Hunstein. Dylan lived a short ways away at 161 West 4th Street at the time. It is a beautiful romantic moment held in time by the camera lens as the couple traverses slush filled Jones Street.

The late Suze Rotolo wrote about her life in Greenwich Village in the book, A Freewheelin’ Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties.

Here is a picture of Jones Street from the Bleecker Street end, note Record Runner in the lower right corner of the picture.

I have every intention of going back to Record Runner soon with Matt to purchase Bob Dylan’s “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” remastered on 180 grade vinyl. 😉

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Vinyl Sales Mojo Rising!

2.9 million vinyl LPs have been sold in the U.S. so far this year, up 33.5 percent from 2012, according to Nielsen SoundScan. In fact, vinyl has been steadily on the rise since bottoming out in 2006, when only 858,000 records were sold. In just seven years, the 65-year-old format has bounced back at an astonishing 338 percent!

This is an amazing statistic when you realize that record stores are closing at an alarming rate, however sales of vinyl continue to improve. What has been counterbalancing record store closures is that you can now find vinyl albums at Urban Outfitters and at Whole Foods (experimenting with vinyl in 5 locations) available as fun, impulse items. That is significant as retail merchandise buyers add record albums to the store shopping experience. This represents validation of the vinyl sales trend leveraging the power of vinyl’s demographics.

Vinyl creatively displayed at Whole Food

Newbury Comics (a 28 store Boston-based chain, where I have gone and will be going again for Record Store Day – Black Friday 2013 11/29) is making a strong play for vinyl sales in their respective retail sites, as well as online. Amazon via its Vinyl Store is also moving vinyl in measure.

Jack White’s Third Man Records continues to make excitement happen for vinyl music enthusiasts. This past week saw Third Man Records, Rolling Record Store, Fall Tour 2013 rolling along. The closest their road trip came to Connecticut was on October 10th when they paid a stop to New York City at Other Music (15 E 4th St  New York, NY).

Third Man Records walks the walks and talks the talk when it comes to vinyl, especially specialty vinyl.

vinyl

I saw this video of Jack White in his Third Man Store (2011) this morning. He is promoting the singing greeting card edition of Wanda Jackson‘s recording that he produced and plays on plus the Third Man Monkey Band music player (only 25 cents).

Music Mash ’13: WPKN Record Fair – September 7

This avid record collector is so pumped for this event taking place very soon now!

Music Mash ’13 is this year’s WPKN Record Fair, taking place on Saturday, September 7 at the Fairfield Theatre Company Annex at 70 Sanford Street, Fairfield, CT from 8 AM to 5:30 PM. Early Bird hours from 8 AM to 10 AM for a $20 admission fee. Regular admission begins at 10 AM for $5. Children under 12 admitted free. Located across from the Fairfield Train Station, parking is plentiful and free.

The event features the region’s top vendors. WPKN 89.5 has roughly 1000 LP’s and CDs to sell, including a private gift of near mint collectible LP’s that are valued at around $10,000. It will offer great opportunities to acquire some amazing albums, CDs, memorabilia and autographs.

Featured special guests at the WPKN Booth: Chris Frantz & Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club), Hilton Valentine(The Animals), Rusty Ford (Lothar & the Hand People), and Charlie Karp (Buddy Miles Express).

Food trucks from Taco Loco (Bridgeport), Fire Engine Pizza Company (Bridgeport), and Cowabunga (Norwalk) and The Vintanthromodern Vintage Clothing Truck (New Haven) will also be featuring their wares.

This event is made possible with support from: Fairfield Theatre CompanyAdvocate Weekly MediaFCBuzz.orgThe Beat,FairfieldAfterDark.com, and The Sound Magazine.

 

Vinyl Resurgence

Readers of this blog know of my passion for vinyl recordings. I am an avid supporter of Record Store Day as a music blogger and vinyl collector.

Vinyl sales are on the increase. Just about every artist I follow with a new recording planned has a vinyl edition included as part of their product distribution strategy. In many instances the vinyl releases are either 180 gram or 220 gram audiophile grade.

Trends

Vinyl sales in the U.S. are up 33% through June 9th, according to Nielsen SoundScan, a fantastic surge in juxtaposition to the 15% gain through the same week in 2012 and the 18% gain in all of 2012.

Record Store Day 2013 was  the most successful vinyl sales day yet. A total of 244,000 vinyl LPs were sold in the week ending April 21, according to Nielsen SoundScan, the largest one-week sum for vinyl albums since SoundScan started tracking sales in 1991.

When Third Man Records Production Head Ben Blackwell was asked about the release date for Jay-Z‘s Magna Carta: Holy Grail specialty edition vinyl he stated, “Vinyl plants are all completely at capacity and we are working in the same world as everyone else – so we’re just scraping by to get it out as soon as possible.”

Just a few years back the death of vinyl was being strongly foretold. The sales turnaround serves as vindication for those of us who never stopped believing in the purism of analog sound.

Bob Dylan, The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10 – Another Self Portrait (1969-1971)

I become intimidated when it comes to writing about Bob Dylan. I chalk that up to the fact that there are music journalists who write more authoritatively about Bob Dylan than I ever could hope to accomplish. They are the writers I have been reading and following for decades, Dylan musicologists if you will.

I noticed in my Facebook stream this morning that there would be breaking news about Bob Dylan’s next music project release, The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10 – Another Self Portrait (1969-1971).

Read more: http://www.bobdylan.com/us#ixzz2ZDvftiRc

I am enthused to learn that the Bob Dylan bootleg series curation was revisiting the era of the Self Portrait and New Morning recordings. The years 1969 and 1970 figured strongly in my life as well as the evolution of popular music. I purchased both albums when they were released. I didn’t connect very well with Self Portrait but New Morning was a warm and constant phonograph companion.

The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10 – Another Self Portrait (1969-1971) has helped me to reacquaint the music of our heart with the original tracks on Self Portrait and New Morning. My first order of business was to relisten beginning to end to those recordings so I can better appreciate what Another Self Portrait creates for us.

I did not fathom that Bob Dylan had just a small nucleus of musicians on Self Portrait, notably David Bromberg and Al Kooper. They each appear on the Another Self Portrait trailer speaking about the sessions and music recorded.

As the trailer audio indicates we are in for some astounding music to make clear our understanding about this phase of Bob Dylan’s recording career.

I mean after all aren’t we all entitled to Another Self Portrait in this life. Right Greil Marcus : -J

Psyche! Jack White & Jay-Z Further Their Distribution Partnership

Jack White has a custom vinyl pressing plant at Third Man Records in Nashville, Tennesee. Jay-Z is partnering with Jack White to distribute several special edition vinyls through that plant. The specific details of Magna Carta…Holy Grail on vinyl are not available yet.

Jay-Z promoting the trend for vinyl is a testimony to vinyl’s role in music sales. This is a major shot in the arm for the relevance of vinyl in music sales and distribution circles.

According to the News section on the Third Man Records Website:

Third Man has something very special planned for the vinyl edition which will be made available for purchase in the coming weeks. Additionally, we can confirm the song “Open Letter” will be featured as a vinyl exclusive.

Jay-Z tweeted this information yesterday about specialty vinyl editions directly during a Twitter Q&A session.

“Jack White, you know, aside from being a brilliant musician, he has this vinyl store so he makes these special edition vinyls, and we’re gonna put [‘Open Letter’] on the vinyl,” said Jay-Z.”

“It’s in a letter. . . you can play the letter. . . it’s amazing,” Jay-Z told Hot 97 yesterday. “You open the letter, and you can actually play the card.”

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/videos/jay-z-and-jack-white-to-release-open-letter-as-a-playable-letter-20130710#ixzz2Yem0tN7v 

This is not the first collaboration on vinyl between Jay-Z and Jack White. The Great Gatsby soundtrack  (which Jay-Z produced) was manufactured and distributed by Third Man Records on gold and platinum vinyl in May.

When I can get to the Nashville Tennesee area I plan to visit Third Man Records. Now that’s what I call a pilgrimage 😉

Happy Frank Zappa Mothers Day

For all you Mothers out there (and you know who you are ;), here is a special tribute pronouncement from Zappa.com

Dear The Frank Zappa & The Mothers’ Little Helpers,

Yeah. We couldn’t help it. It’s that Special Day for mothers everywhere – still mean and almost 50! To commemorate, memorialize and remind that some things never change. No matter what you do, stating the obvious is often the first necessary step to solving a problem. We appreciate your support and authority in representing Frank Zappa’s intent as an Artist and Humorist. We gratefully and proudly present this Special Edition* of HELP I’M A ROCK / IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE & WHO ARE THE BRAIN POLICE? On Red Vinyl, 12″ at 45 revolutions per minute. We hope you’ll have it in your hot little helping hands in time to commemorate the American Revolution. Those were the days.

L I M I T E D   E D I T I O N

*What’s so special? Check this out:
Side 1: HELP I’M A ROCK / IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE Original Stereo 1966 Mix
Side 2: WHO ARE THE BRAIN POLICE? Original Mono Release
WHO ARE THE BRAIN POLICE? Basic Trackings (Rock your own mic!)

Record Store Days – The Book

Record Store Day 2013 is two weeks from today, Saturday April 20th. I still haven’t figured out where I will be shopping on that day. But I’m working on it 😉

Record Store Days jacket

I purchased the book, Record Store Dayswritten by Gary Calamar and Phil Gallo to celebrate the upcoming semi-annual treasure hunt. The book underlines a major passion of mine, it’s written by record collector enthusiasts for vinyl lovers everywhere. The book tells the story of the development of record stores which has become a threatened species.

Peter Buck of R.E.M. fame wrote the foreword where he shares with us his history of working at record stores. He met Michael Stipe while working at Wuxtry Records in Athen, Georgia and they each discovered they were looking to form a band.  His favorite record stores are in Seattle, Washington, most notably Easy Street Records which I have yet to frequent but plan to next time we visit Seattle. May that be soon 🙂

The book is a delightful read. We learn about the origin of record stores and the brave owners who built them. Its well illustrated with 150 photographs of record stores, owners, consumers, and artists.

There is text dedicated to Russ Solomon and Tower Records. I made a special point of visiting Tower Records on Sunset Strip, Hollywood, California in 1978. I was managing the record department at Caldors a discount department store chain in Stamford, Ct. in those days.

Ameoba Music is also featured in the book. I went to Ameoba Music in Hollywood on my birthday a couple of years back .It’s the world’s largest independent music store I found it a cavernous store with a sea of product to choose from and I loved being overwhelmed like that as a music collector.

There is a chapter dedicated to in-store appearances which I get to on occasion. I saw Los Lobos perform an in-store at Tower Records in the Village when The Ride was released in 2004. They performed on the street level of the store that day and then did a signing on the second floor walk up. I always find Los Lobos to be very accommodating to their fans.

All in all this is a cool, fun book that I plan to finish before Record Store Day 2013 😉