After an extreme exhausting, exhaustive week at work, with a needless and more than hefty snowstorm smack dab in the middle of the week, the day had arrived!! Saturday, April 21st--the 2nd anniversary of the passing of the iconic musician Prince, no less-was the official date for the annual Record Store Day event, the celebration of local, independent records stores around the nation and starring oodles of exclusive (and expensive) items to whet the appetites of music fans everywhere.
Since it had indeed been such an aforementioned tiring week, I knew that is year, my pilgrimage would be as brief as possible..but again, as necessary as it had ever been. I needed to pay respects. I needed to show my face at the places that have meant so very much to me during my residence in Madison, WI over these past 31 years, as well as a tribute to all of the records stores that I have ventured into throughout my life as places of community, sanctuary and discovery.
My first stop was Mad City Music Exchange, the very record store where I first discovered and purchased a bootlegged and vinyl copy of Prince's then legendary and unreleased "The Black Album" back in early 1988 when I was 19 years old.
Now owned and operated by Dave Zero and housed in its third physical location in these past three decades, it feels as if the store is stronger than ever, a feeling exceedingly confirmed when I walked into the establishment at around 8:45 a.m. The store was JAM PACKED!!!!
I was told my an employee that lines began forming outside of the store at 5 a.m.!!! And by the time of my arrival and the store not even open for one official hour, elbow room was powerfully scarce and the lines were epic,--a wonderful sight to see on Record Store Day, of course. But most of all, it seemed that people were all in good spirits, despite the chill in the air compared to the previous two years. I checked out some of the special releases and just casually listened to the conversations while regarding the armloads stuffed with music to purchase.
With all due respect to Dave Zero and his expert staff and beautiful store, I felt the need to get outside and move along as I knew that it would take more than a little bit of time to make a purchase due to the sheer amount of customers (don't worry...you KNOW I'll be back).
So, it was time for me to head to Stare Street and B-Side Records...
All was quiet on State Street this Saturday morning--a good sign that perhaps navigating B-Side would be a tad easier, maybe.
B-Side Records, owned and operated by my friend Steve Manley, a location that I have frequented since my very first week on the University Of Wisconsin-Madison campus back in 1987--and frankly, the last record store standing on State Street, a location that was once my record store mecca--was also heavily populated today. Again, it was a beautiful sight to me and I was indeed gracious to have a tad more elbow room at my disposal.
While the physical space of B-Side is quite tiny and tightly packed, it has always remained a treasure trove of sights and sounds and I know that I could still spend hours looking through the stacks and memorabilia from the legends and newer, local artists and musicians.
And speaking of local musicians, on this day, I was also extremely pleased to run into both singer/songwriter/bassist/guitarist Alivia Kleinfeldt (Dash Hounds, Squarewave, Modern Mod) and songwriter/drummer/guitarist Brendan Manley (Post Social, Dash Hounds, Squarewave, Modern Mod) each of whom also put time into keeping the flame of B-Side alive and kicking.
Alivia Kleinfeldt and Brendan Manley
By the time I reached the counter to pick up my purchases and say hello to Steve, my time at Record Store Day had been completed. While not a marathon of a day by any means, this was just another step on a lifelong journey.
Thank you so much to Steve, to Dave, to B-Side and Mad City plus Madison's Strictly Discs, Sugar Shack and to all other record stores around the nation that continue to serve as essential pieces of their respective communities, musical, economic, cultural and social.
SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL RECORD STORES!!!!!!!!!!!!