A record store is not just for Record Store Day

Posted on: 3rd April, 2018

Category: News

Contributor: Gary Hannon

Gary Hannon DJs a music show on AtlanticRadio.ie. He plays with the Clonakilty Jazz Collective every Monday night in the Emmet Hotel and once per month on Sunday afternoons in De Barra’s, both in Clonakilty.

April 21 will be International Record Store Day. This day is conceived as a way to celebrate and spread the word about the unique culture surrounding the thousands of independently owned record stores internationally. This is a day for the staff, the customers, and the artists to come together and celebrate the special role these stores play in their communities.  It began only ten years ago, in response to the decline in the number of these record stores worldwide.

The purchasing of music is now more important than ever.  Just because you can get something for free does not mean that it is a good thing. Just last month after six years in business, the music shop Hunky Dory closed in Clonakilty. It is sad when ‘GuitarTown’ Clonakilty can’t maintain a music shop, never mind there being none now west of Jeffers in Bandon!

If you want to visit one of the only remaining record stores in West Cork, call into Alex Chamberlain who runs The Storeroom from above the post office in Kilcrohane on the beautiful Sheep Head. He stocks a broad range of records, along with record players and gramophones, so you can test play anything, and relax with a coffee in the café downstairs.  His aim is to ensure that the records he sells are in good condition. He is open during the summer season, but he is reachable on his mobile the rest of the time on 087-1708067. If you can’t visit the shop, you can see him at the Bantry market most Fridays.

The Mardyke Magpie in Skibbereen is an antiques shop with a music room upstairs, which has a large selection of affordable vinyl for €5 each. He would love to expand, so if you’ve any records to sell contact Matthew on 087-2458627. Other shops such as the Time Traveller’s Bookshop in Skibbereen stock vinyl and CDs. If you’re into specialist records, talk to Holger. They specialise in spoken word and jazz vinyl.

Kye Gann of Vinyl Uncorked sells records at the Skibbereen Market on Saturdays. He is always looking to buy or swap records, and you can ring him on 083-1738567. In addition, he organises pop-up record fairs—the next one is in the Metropole in Cork on April 7.

Before I continue, I must admit that I am—and have been for the past 20 years—a vinyl addict. I have well over a thousand records on vinyl, but my wife keeps things from getting completely out of hand: for every record I buy, I must get rid of one. This quality control is very effective – and if I haven’t listened to a record in a decade, then someone else would make a better owner.

It’s fine to buy records online, but it’s not near as exciting, enjoyable or safe. What you get is not always what you’d expected. Records can appear much cheaper, until you get to the ‘place order’ page and select postage method. It is much less risky buying from a physical store. Usually it is actually cheaper to buy a newly released album from a record shop rather than online. Also, you don’t have to wait – you’ve got it in your hand. I’m currently waiting five months for a present of a record to arrive from a reputable online store!

2018 is the 70th anniversary of the LP, or long playing record. Before this, songs were limited by the medium of the smaller singles to a few minutes. With the emergence of the LP, the album was born. A continuous selection of sometimes longer songs could be arranged together in such a way as to build a mood or develop a concept.

The music industry is on its knees and it is taking few risks any more. Instead it is focused on selling products from highly-marketed over-produced popstars. This is far from where the music industry was in its heyday: artist albums that pushed the barriers of what music was and how it could motivate and inspire people. Many musicians nowadays are finding themselves hoping to get their songs used on an advertisement.  For me this is the opposite of what artists should aim for.

More than ever, musicians need us to go to gigs, and if you like the music to buy their album.  If you see a poster for a live gig, why not pay the fiver in?  In this age of social media –thankfully much of the youth are rebelling against this phenomenon and there is a backlash against online experiences ¬– live performances are what is paramount.

I hope that you can sense my enthusiasm and it will remind you of your old records. Please, if you have any lying around, get them down from the attic, dust them off ¬– they are considerably more durable than most people give them credit for – and play them. If you have an old needle, please buy a new one first, so as not to ruin your records. You can buy the right replacement needles in record shops or electrical shops. If you have a way to play it on a good ¬– or even just a loud – sound system, then do.  To experience the ‘superior sound quality’ of vinyl, there is no point playing records on small two watt speakers. Give yourself 40 minutes to enjoy one of your favourite records from start to finish.  Put down your phone, don’t read, just listen.  (I’m not a complete snob—if you prefer CDs, that’s fine too).  Turntables and CD players have never been cheaper. And for those who like to listen on the go, most new vinyl releases comes with a download code so that you can make soft copies too.

Alternatively go into a charity shop and have a root around their record section. There are gems to be found! If you want details on the gems/duds, Discogs.com is by far the best online resource.  It will give you every detail you could possibly want: every release in each format; how much it is worth in each condition – from new to poor, and so on.

So this April, if you have some euros to spare, go out and buy some music. If you can, don’t do it on April 21, rather remember that a record store is not just for Record Store Day!

My gig of the month for April is: Mamasongue ‘Songs In The Mother Tongue’, featuring Camilla Griehsel in Skibbereen Town Hall on Friday, April 27, at 8pm. Tickets €18 on sale from coughlans.ie or direct from Thornhills, Skibbereen and Tourist Office, Schull.

If you have any comments or events, you can contact me by email gary@westcorkpeople.ie.

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