Shops, bands and music fans celebrate the charm of favorite albums during Record Store Day.
Downtownâ€™s colorful Spoonful Records will pay homage to vinyl with exclusive releases, discounts and other Record Store Day specials.
Photos by Tessa Berg
The picture sleeves are creased, the grooves worn gray, but I still have nearly all the 45s I played on a plastic turntable my parents gave me at roughly age 5. When you’re a kid, anything that’s yours is automatically important, and a record felt like a personal letter from the band.
I’d blast “Yankee Rose” while studying the chest hair beneath David Lee Roth’s unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt, then gaze longingly at Belinda Carlisle’s flirty portrait on the sleeve that held The Go-Go’s “Our Lips Are Sealed.”
My lifelong love of vinyl was born. It edged into obsession during college when I inherited a family-room cabinet of rock, pop and R&B from my parents and spent days introducing friends to the arty glam of Roxy Music or the minimalist jazz of Thelonious Monk in my small Waldeck Avenue apartment.
On April 20, people like me will celebrate vinyl’s singular charm during the fifth-annual Record Store Day, when shops worldwide offer sales and host in-store concerts. They also sell scores of exclusive releases such as colored vinyl or elaborate box sets that bands prepare specifically for the event.
“It’s a completely contrived, made-up holiday,” jokes Kyle Siegrist, owner of Lost Weekend Records, a Clintonville store wallpapered with old concert fliers. “The idea was to get people to come and support brick-and-mortar stores. Every year we get customers in for the first time who come back the rest of the year.”
Die-hard collectors are known to camp on the sidewalk overnight to get limited-edition items, but the event’s designed to bring back anyone who’s ever had a record he played too loudly, wore through and had to replace. At many stores, the day feels more like a low-key house party than a shopping trip, with owners and customers playing and discussing favorite songs.
You’ll find me at the nearest dollar bin in search of my latest oddball fascination—forgotten country from singers like Glen Campbell. Yes, the Rhinestone Cowboy.
“Our last two Record Store Days have been bigger than Christmas,” says Mike Depew of Ace in the Hole Music Exchange in Upper Arlington. “We’ll have a line of 40 to 50 down the sidewalk.”
As customers ditch downloads for a day, store owners encourage music fans to recall the allure of the hard copy—liner notes about an epic recording session, poster inserts designed for a bedroom wall. They want customers to remember vinyl’s rich, warm sound, but also the ritual of sitting down and putting needle to groove for the first time.
“You have all the memories of when you got it,” Siegrist says. “You don’t remember that stuff when you download a song from iTunes.”
That’s a big reason why I never stopped collecting: Records have a way of sustaining memories that threaten to fade. It’s more than just pressing play. I remember the summer of 2011, when my roommates and I would sit on the floor of our sweltering attic, cold beers in hand, playing “For Everyman” by Jackson Browne and discussing how I should propose. Months later, I taught my wife how to cut and start the turntable in our Clintonville apartment. We argue about the best track on “Fleetwood Mac,” then laugh at Mick Fleetwood’s bug-eyed expression on the back cover.
“It seemed like you really had something if you had a record,” says Brett Ruland, owner of Downtown’s colorful Spoonful Records. “Everyone could get the CD. It’s that old-school charm.”
On the Record
Record store owners insist vinyl offers advantages over other formats.
Pretty packaging. LPs feature original art and perks such as gatefold covers and posters. “I like the art form,” says Kyle Siegrist of Lost Weekend Records. “It’s the whole presentation.”
Super sound. LPs have a warm sound often stripped out by digitization, says David Lewis of Elizabeth’s Records.
Cool collectibles. Only about 42 percent of vinyl has been digitized, says Brett Ruland of Spoonful Records, so buyers can get a bigger library on wax.
A look at how Columbus shops will celebrate Record Store Day on April 20. More information at: recordstoreday.com
3037 Indianola Ave., Clintonville
Twenty percent off used vinyl (including rare finds stockpiled for the event), local DJ sets, door prizes, grand opening of expanded sales area
Lost Weekend Records
2960 N. High St., Clintonville
Sales including 33 percent off used LPs and 10 percent off new music, exclusive RSD releases, special “Tough City” EP release from Columbus supergroup Connections
116 E. Long St., Downtown
Extended hours, 20 percent off used vinyl, exclusive RSD releases, grab bags for early customers
Used Kids Records
1980 N. High St., Campus
Sales including 20 percent off used vinyl, live local bands from 10 a.m.- 8 p.m., exclusive RSD releases
51 E. Gay St., Downtown
Extended hours, sales on used vinyl, live bands all day, exclusive RSD releases
Giant posters, gatefold covers and picture discs transform many albums into collectible art. Record store owners chime in on memorable LP packaging.
“The Velvet Underground & Nico,” by The Velvet Underground. “On the original pressing, there was a banana, kind of a decal. You could peel it off, and there was a pink banana underneath. It’s an Andy Warhol cover. It was his art.”
—Brett Ruland, owner
“Ooh La La,” by Faces. “It was always one of my favorites because it has a face on it that looks very Monty Python-cartoonish. The mouth is closed, and when you push on it from the top and bottom, his mouth opens.”
—Kyle Siegrist, owner
“King of the Rotten,” by Corrosion of Conformity. “[It’s] a really cool one I bought in the ’90s at the record store that I worked at. It’s in the shape of a pig’s head, and then that’s the graphic on the disc, too. It’s just this red and angry pig.”
—Justin Crockett, owner