Rich Wilhelm

Shady Dog Record Store Day

In Music/Memory on April 21, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Earlier this week, I had been writing notes on my lifelong history with record stores, to celebrate yesterday’s Record Store Day. I didn’t finish that bit of musical/cultural memoir in time, but I’ll finish it up soon.

In the meantime, I did want to note that I spent a few hours at Shady Dog Records in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, yesterday and that was a great store to spend the sixth annual Record Store Day. The joint was hopping with record lovers and this is what was happening:

A father and a very young son (I’m thinking not even seven years old) were talking about the Clash, the Pogues and Pink Floyd.

Two teenage boys called their parents on a cell phone to find out if Mom and/or Dad wanted the boys to pick anything up for them.

A twentysomething guy holding a vinyl copy of Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline and saying, “It would be cool to have some Dylan on vinyl.” I recommended that he buy that copy of Nashville Skyline and I’m pretty certain he did.

Another guy in his 20s, buying his first Miles Davis LP. I’m not sure which one it was, though it was not Kind of Blue. “And next time, you can pick up Kind of Blue,” the clerk advised.

Several dads and/or moms with young kids browsing the record and CD racks.

A customer and one of the owners having a conversation in which they were poetically comparing watching a major league baseball pitcher in action to watching jazz pianist Bill Evans play.

In addition to all of this, I picked up a few CDs and some very cheap albums. I could tell you about these CDs and records, in great detail, but in a big way, the specifics of my purchase isn’t the point.

I am not here to bash the Internet, music downloading, social media or anything else. Modern life has all kinds of advantages, many of which I appreciate every day. But the reason Record Store Day is special is not the “exclusive” releases that are gobbled up by fans as soon as the stores open. And, while ostensibly, Record Store Day is helping the stores make a few bucks (and I genuinely hope that RSD was indeed good to Shady Dog’s bottom line), it’s not just about money.

A place like Shady Dog Records gives people who really love music a place to meet (in person!) and share that enthusiasm with their friends and family, as well as with people they’ve just met. That is what Record Store Day is about and, by that yardstick, Record Store Day 2013 at Shady Dog Records was a roaring success.

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Patrick F. O'Donnell

writer, editor, general wordsmith and scribe

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