I love the idea of a Record Store Day but there really weren't many items in the Record Store Day roster that excited me. So I like to take the opportunity to check on my record store friends and see how the madness is going for them. But if this is really a special day, then I should do it in a special way. So I set out to do the Record Store GRAND TOUR: hit all New Orleans record stores in one day. With a combination of strategic planning, light jogs, the phrase "I'm not going to buy anything, do you mind if I come in and take a few pictures" and keen driving intuition, I just about managed to achieve this.
I started out heading to the French quarter to check out the two stores opening at 9AM: Skully'z and Peaches.
Skully'z had opened a bit early but still had the remnants of a line. Skully'z tiny one-room layout didn't keep them from stocking a healthy amount of Record Store Day merchandise. They probably have the highest concentration of great music per square foot of any record store in the city, and there were a number of shoppers on hand that recognize that.
Caught a friend outside and he showed me his finds. Uh oh. DIdn't know about this album with A Place To Bury Strangers covering Dead Moon. Could it be I had something to look out for besides that one Chicha Libre 7"? I had already been thinking a little harder about that Tame Impala EP...
Peaches was next
I had gotten there a little bit after the opening but there were still a number of shoppers checking out the Record Store Day merch.
Peaches was pretty well stocked. They had a brand new selection of Third Man Records' fancy wax. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to check out their free beer or see Brice Nice spinning records later in the day. I was heading uptown!
The Mushroom, it turns out, was opening earlier that day despite what I was told over the phone, so I missed some of the early rush. Can't lay any blame though, as I heard the girl I talked to discussing her confusion over it with the manager. Oh well.
The Mushroom has long celebrated 4/20 for other reasons, which meant a pretty killer sale store-wide. To some degree, my musical tastes were shaped by the used CDs I got there as a high schooler, so I took a few moments to check out their 42% off used CDs.
I thought this would be a good time to grab that Tame Impala album. As I kept browsing, a man asked me "awlright, how much for that album". His son had headed off to Austin Psych Fest (I believe) to check them out and his father was going to treat him to this Record Store Day exclusive. I told him don't sweat it, I'll be at a bunch of record stores today and judging by the other stores I've been to, I'll find another copy. He handed me a 20 as thanks. I never did end up finding another copy of that record that day, but I walked out of the Mushroom having turned a profit and done somebody a favor.
I'd heard through the grapevine that Euclid was where things were really crazy. As it was approaching opening time, I figured now was a good time to visit.
It was a sight for sure. The line backed up to two houses past the store. The trio in the front of the line arrived no later than 7 a.m. that morning
Definitely made me think about Black Friday. A lot of the items could have been had at another store earlier, but I think a lot of the people there were excited about *the experience*. I saw a bunch of friendly faces in the crowd and felt a lot of enthusiams.
I explained that I wasn't planning on buying until much later and just wanted pictures, so I was in the store a little early to catch the first 8 make their way to Euclid's array of RSD items. While everybody kept it civil, I could see a little bit of adrenaline-fueled smash & grab attitude at first, then everybody realized there was plenty enough there and cooled down. I joked to Euclid's staff that they should have a prize for the first person to buy a regular release.
Back to the quarter and onto Louisiana Music Factory
Don't know what's up with the date on the sign....
I had seen a bit of a line forming when I passed by Louisiana Music factory at 9:40, but coming by around 11:15 was a little sleepier. Still, I think their non-local music variety is underrated and they were an overlooked venue for Record Store Day. They still had plenty left
I went upstairs and grabbed Bombino's Agadez and a Sundazed reissue of an old Del-Fi surf record.
At the register I found free cupcakes and cookies. That cupcake would sustain me for much of the day.
Domino Sound Record Shack has never been a Record Store Day participant in the past. There were a few items this time but clearly items suited to Domino's specialties and likely not what a lot of buyers were looking for (not even the Dead Moon cover album despite Matt Knowles love of the band!). That's fine, I still made away with La Logia Sarabanda's LP and a compilation of Bollywood Steel Guitar I'd wanted for ages.
Made one more trip to the quarter, first to actually take a look at Skully'z. Found some great garage 7"s and the aforementioned Dead Moon cover album
And then I took what will likely be my last trip to Odyssey Records over on Canal
The owner caught me snapping the picture of his closing signs and said "I know, can you believe it?". I'll admit I've walked out of Odyssey empty handed more often than not, so maybe, but regardless it still hurts to see a record store go. I know a lot of people have a lot of good memories about the spot. I said goodbye with a purchase of Ricky B's LP.
Jim Russel Records has never been a Record Store Day participant, though Denise did celebrate the day with a buy two get one free sale. Her response to my normal "how's business" question was at first surprisingly enthusiastic as she showed off the new signage that a local company had made for the store. Her usual complaints followed, but it was nice to see a silver lining.
A man walked in and announced the bad news about Odyssey's closing. This was big news to Denise... she thought for sure she was the next to go. I reminder her, "but you're still here", and paid for a handful of 45s.
My stomach was demanding more than a cupcake, and I remembered the smell of pulled pork at Euclid. To the Bywater!
At 3pm, 5 hours later than I had been there before, Euclid was STILL packed. Everywhere I turned a familiar face was finding something to take home. As much as I wanted to stay to see Guitar Lightning Lee and find that one killer surf 45 that was likely hiding somewhere in those piles of 45s, my journey was starting to take its' toll. I was beat.
Skullyz, Peaches, Mushroom, Euclid, Louisiana Music Factory, Domino, Odyssey, Jim Russell
8 Independent Record Stores (and there are others such as Musica Latina I didn't visit). I'd been to all of these many times before, but after tallying them up I couldn't believe this city could hold as many as 8 when some larger cities offer one decent store.
So that's what I learned in this journey. For a city with a complicated relationship with its music, our record stores are *NOT* our weakness.