Friday, July 30, 2010

News & Notes

Specialty vinyl store to open in Midtown

by Suzanne Hurt

In an era dominated by MP3 players and downloaded music, two music lovers are confident other fans are hungry for the real thing: vinyl, and lots of it.

Dal Basi, a longtime Tower Records music buyer, and his partner, Nich Lujan, are banking on the importance of being able to touch your music collection. They are opening an independent vinyl specialty store, Phono Select Records, in Midtown in early September.

"Digital music is so soulless," said Basi, 42. "Fast food is kind of like an MP3. You're getting what you need for the moment, but it's not something special."

Basi and Lujan both use digital audio players. But the most devoted music fans are into the entire "organic" experience: owning a collection, pulling out an album or cassette tape, putting it on, listening to the recording and checking out the art and liner notes, Lujan said.

More than half the inventory will be vinyl records — about 5,000 to 6,000 will be 33s or "long-playing" records (LPs), and about 1,000 will be two-song 45s. The store at 2312 K St. will stock almost as many CDs and a smattering of cassettes, which are seeing a revival among indie rock labels. About 70 percent of the merchandise will be used.

A lot of LPs are being reissued now. Some of those have thicker, higher-quality vinyl and better sound, making this a good time to buy records, Basi said.

The roughly 1,200-square-foot store will contain listening stations with phonographs, cassette players and CD players. The store will sell more than music. Phono Select will carry old and new posters, books, magazines, T-shirts, band buttons and pop culture curios.

The focus will be on independent music: indie pop, punk rock, metal, hip hop, reggae, world music and old, avant-garde jazz — from The Clash and Bad Brains to Miles Davis and John Coltrane, Basi said.

The store will carry local bands and small, independent labels such as Burger Records of Los Angeles, and London's B-Music and Sing Sing Records of New York.

The interior will be somewhat spare and stylized to spotlight the selective inventory.

"Record stores have the reputation for being a place where you just pack stuff in. People have to sort through the madness to find the
jewels," Lujan said. "We want the jewels to be right there when you walk in."

Basi has worked in the music business for more than 20 years. He was just 18 or 19 when he went to work for Tower Records in Stockton in 1986 or 1987. He quickly became the buyer for independent music.

"I was the kid who read all the magazines and went to the shows," he said. Basi later did a brief stint managing Tower Records on Broadway. He also worked at a music wholesaler, Valley Media, and for R5 Records, opened on Broadway by Tower founder Russ Solomon.

In that time, he's amassed a huge collection of music. Half of the store's inventory will come from that collection.

Lujan, 28, was working in computer-based graphic and print design at the Academy of Art in San Francisco until Basi called, saying he wanted to open the record store the two had talked about for the last few years.

A mutual friend introduced them because they like many of the same bands and are both open-minded enough to listen to anything at least once, they said.

Lujan and Basi, who will be the only ones staffing the store, said they want to share that same kind of experimental, collaborative, interactive experience with customers. With the store's eclectic focus and only 30 percent new inventory, they won't be able to carry everything. They hope to engage customers in conversation to find out what they like, then either find that or introduce them to someone similar they might not have heard of.

"There's so much music that flies under the radar and doesn't get promoted every day," Basi said. "That's what we want to champion."

Hours will be Tuesdays through Thursdays, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; and Sundays noon-5 p.m.



World’s oldest record shop make its second move in 116 years, to a Cardiff arcade

THE WORLD’S oldest record store was reopening in a Victorian city centre arcade today after moving from its long-standing home.

The history of the Spillers records store in Cardiff stretches back 116 years, with some 60 of those years spent at its shop on The Hayes where members of Wales’ biggest bands have long counted themselves among its customers.

Now, one month after closing its doors at The Hayes, the shop is due to reopen for business at 11am at 31 Morgan Arcade.

It is only the iconic record shop’s third location since Henry Spiller began selling wax cylinders, gramophones and records in 1894.

The CD and vinyl stands have been scoured by the Manic Street Preachers, the Super Furry Animals, former Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston, Billy Bragg, among hundreds of thousands of customers.

Read the rest here: Record Shop

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