Monday, February 1, 2010

Record Store Thriving

Regular readers know that I love interesting stories about record stores that are doing well.  I want to thank Kaitlin Ring at the Grand Forks Herald for allowing the rights to reprint the article:

Jeremy Swisher’s Whole Wheat Records and Comics in downtown Grand Forks stocks 45s as well as albums and CDs. Herald photo by Eric Hylden.

History accompanies location of new Grand Forks record, comics store

Vintage record covers ranging from Elvis to Sonic Youth cover the walls of Whole Wheat Records and Comics. The shop’s “regulars” pore over countless bins of records and don headphones to sample music in recliners.

By: Kaitlin Ring, Grand Forks Herald

Vintage record covers ranging from Elvis to Sonic Youth cover the walls of Whole Wheat Records and Comics.

The shop’s “regulars” pore over countless bins of records and don headphones to sample music in recliners.

Located in the lower level of St. John’s Block on the corner of Third Street and DeMers in downtown Grand Forks, the store now occupies the historic building’s long-standing void.

Breathing life into a space vacant for about 15 years, co-owners Jeremy Swisher and Terry Demars hope to recreate the atmosphere of past businesses located in the basement spot — Sprouts Deli and later, Bobino’s Delicatessen, which called it home in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Swisher recalls developing his love for music in his youth at Sprouts Deli, which was one of Grand Forks’s first “trendy” coffee shops and hosted live music events on the weekends.

Since moving from its South Washington location about six weeks ago, Whole Wheat Records and Comics has already held several live music shows on weekends.

“I want to provide something for the youth in Grand Forks,” Swisher said. “I wanted to create a small venue for all ages.”

While he hopes to target UND students, customers of young and old frequent the store on a regular basis.

A new start

Swisher and Demars decided to make the move after six months on Washington because the former location didn’t provide the atmosphere they wanted. “It was hard for customers to find things and for us to display items properly,” Swisher said. He built all the fixtures in the store himself and continues to work on organizing and alphabetizing the records, as the store’s only employee.

Swisher hopes the new location also will give the business better exposure, with all the vehicle and foot traffic that passes by daily. “We’re excited for the spring season and summer events,” Swisher said. He hopes the store attracts walking traffic from events in Town Square, such as the weekly Farmers Markets and the annual downtown Art Fest.

Whole Wheat Records and Comics primarily stocks vintage comics and classic rock records, but the store doesn’t claim to be genre-specific. Patrons can also find classic country, soul, funk, R&B and blues records. The store also plans to carry vinyl from more recent artists, as well, mainly from the indie genre. Swisher also said the store places special orders for customers.

Swisher already has ideas for expansion. He hopes the store will soon have a larger stock of posters and T-shirts, even suggesting he might add a used bookstore section.

Swisher said Whole Wheat Records and Comics has items for customers seeking a nostalgia trip and for serious collectors alike. The self-proclaimed “junk dealer” has several $1 bins of comics and records. Customers can also purchase record players at the store, as well as accessories such as record player needles and other types of audio gear and sound equipment.

Swisher enjoys hearing his customers say they remember certain albums or comic books from their youth. He said customers with some time to spare quickly submerge themselves in the bins of vintage vinyl. “We have some gems you might have to dig for,” he said.

Swisher said he wants to cater to the customers; he set up wireless Internet in the store so one of his regulars can listen to his favorite cultural music.

“I see the store as more of a hangout that’s open for people to relax,” Swisher said. Swisher’s regulars don’t hesitate to talk music with him or request a track from their favorite record be played through the store’s speakers.

Whole Wheat Records and Comics is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Friday and features live music with extended hours on select weekends.


Top 5 eBay Vinyl Records Sales - Week Ending 01/23/2010

1. 78 - WF "Buffalo Bill" Cody "Sentiments on the Cuban Issue" Berliner 5014 - $6,200.00

2. 45 - The Del-Tours "Blind Girl" / "Sweet And Lovely" Starville - $4,075.00

3. LP - Index "self titled" Private - $3,951.00

4. LP - Focal Point "self titled" Midas - $2,250.00

5. LP - Sonny Rollins "Colossus" Prestige 7079 - $2850.00

As always, a special thank you to Norm at  for this great data. Stop in and listen to their unique radio show Accidental Nostalgia with Norm & Jane On Radio Dentata - 60 minutes of rare records and nugatory narration. NOW TUESDAYS at 4PM PT / 7PM ET for a complete rundown of the Top 5 with trivia and tidbits.


Music News & Vinyl Record Notes

Arctic Monkeys Plan New Single

Sheffield indie titans Arctic Monkeys are to release 'My Propellor' on March 22nd - the third single from their recent hit album.

Arctic Monkeys are one of the most important bands of their generation. Breaking charts records with their debut album the band managed to bring gritty Northern life to British music in a way that was completely natural.

Returning last year with their new album 'Humbug' the band announced a link up with Oxfam. Arctic Monkeys released their comeback single exclusively through the charity, raising countless thousands for Oxfam.

Becoming one of the biggest selling vinyl releases of 2009, the single 'Crying Lightning' preceded the artistic success that was 'Humbug'. Now Arctic Monkeys are to return to their new album for another single release.

'My Propellor' is due to be released on March 22nd and will contain three exclusive new tracks. 'Joining The Dots', 'The Afternoon's Hat' and 'Don't Forget Whose Legs You're On' will appear across the seven and ten inch vinyl releases.

Arctic Monkeys have a close relationship with Oxfam, donating a guitar to the charity's recent online auction in aid of the humanitarian crisis in Haiti.


Teen rocker joins BMI and prepares debut single for renowned indie label Bar/None Records

14 year old Jack Skuller is equally passionate about the melodies of the Beatles and the energy of the Ramones. His own irresistibly catchy song "Love Is A Drum" will be released on Bar/None Records in April 2010.

(1888PressRelease) February 01, 2010 - 14-year-old singer/songwriter Jack Skuller recently joined BMI, a performing rights organization. The promising young artist recently inked a contract with renowned indie label, Bar/None Records, who will release Jack's debut single on April 20, 2010 as a limited edition 7" vinyl and digital download.

Jack is equally passionate about the melodies of the Beatles and the energy of the Ramones. A song Jack wrote, the irresistibly catchy "Love Is A Drum" propelled him to first place in a NJ statewide talent competition sponsored by 101.5 FM. Jack soon caught the ear of Bar/None Records owner Glenn Morrow while performing at the Hoboken Arts and Music Festival. "Love Is A Drum," a timeless rockabilly anthem was produced by Daniel Rey (Ramones, Ronnie Spector) and features Nada Surf's Ira Elliot on drums. Insistent and forceful, rock and roll begins again with rock's new young heart.

Opportunities to hear Jack perform live include upcoming shows at the Cake Shop in New York City on March 7, 2010 and Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ on April 25, 2010.

Visit Jack Skuller online at

Don't know what it is, but I like this kid!


This from Rolling

Aerosmith Saga Continues

Steven Tyler’s new manager has sent a letter to Aerosmith’s management threatening legal action if the band makes good on their promise to tour with a new singer, Billboard reports. In the letter, manager Skip Miller asserts that Tyler is synonymous with Aerosmith: “Can you imagine the manager of the Rolling Stones calling for the replacement of Mick Jagger?” Miller writes. “Steven is Aerosmith, along with the others. He’s the guy the public knows. He’s the singer.”

Prior to entering rehab for an addiction to prescription pain medicine, Tyler vowed to stay in Aerosmith, saying in a statement, “I wish to set the record straight and say that I have read reports of a rumored two-year hiatus and want to be clear that this is completely false and I will enthusiastically be writing, recording and performing with Aerosmith as soon as things are handled.”

Stay tuned, there will be more to this saga very soon........


Lady GaGa, U2's Bono 'To Sing On Lionel Richie's 'We Are The World' Remake'

Lady GaGa and U2 singer will both appear on Lionel Richie's charity single for the victims of the recent earthquake in Haiti, it's been reported. The two acts will join the likes of Usher and Jennifer Hudson on the remake of Richie and Quincy Jones' hit, 'We Are The World'.

As many as 100 singers could eventually feature on the song, which is being produced by RedOne, according to E! Online.

'We Are The World' was originally released in 1985 to help raise money for famine relief in Africa.

Last month, it was claimed the song's co-author Michael Jackson could also make a posthumous appearance on the new version. It is the latest song to be released in aid of the victims of the earthquake in January.

Jay-Z, Rihanna and Bono have already released 'Stranded', while Simon Cowell's all-star remake of 'Everybody Hurts' by R.E.M. is out on February 7.


Grammy Wrap Up

Well, OK, I will admit it, I watched some of the Grammy Awards Show last night.  I will also admit that I could not stomach most of it, with the over the top theatrics and stage presentations.  What happened to a guy coming out and playing a guitar and singing?  Why do we need 20-30 dancers in the background?  Why all the drama?  Well, it sells the music, I guess.  (this coming from a guy who loved Alice Cooper and David Bowie concerts).  I'll stick to what I know and like, and leave the new music to the youngsters who crave it.  Some of it is just not for me.  Here are last night's winners:

Beyoncé picked up six out of the 10 Grammys she was nominated for, while Taylor Swift nabbed four and Lady Gaga scored two.

Album of the Year: Fearless — Taylor Swift

Song of the Year: “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” — Thaddis Harrell, Beyoncé Knowles, Terius Nash & Christopher Stewart, songwriters (Beyoncé)

Best Solo Rock Performance: “Working on a Dream” — Bruce Springsteen

Record of the Year: “Use Somebody” — Kings of Leon

Best Country Album: Fearless — Taylor Swift

Best Rock Album: 21st Century Breakdown — Green Day

Best Hard Rock Performance: “War Machine” — AC/DC

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: “Run This Town” — Jay-Z, Rihanna & Kanye West

Best Dance Recording: “Poker Face” — Lady Gaga

Best Female Pop Vocal Performance: “Halo” — Beyoncé

Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals: “Use Somebody” — Kings of Leon

Best New Artist: Zac Brown Band

Best Electronic/Dance Album: The Fame — Lady Gaga

Best Alternative Music Album: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix — Phoenix

Best Contemporary R&B Album: I Am… Sasha Fierce — Beyoncé

Best Female R&B Vocal Performance: “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” — Beyoncé

Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals: “I Gotta Feeling” — The Black Eyed Peas

Best Rock Song: “Use Somebody” — Caleb Followill, Jared Followill, Matthew Followill & Nathan Followill, songwriters (Kings Of Leon)

Best Pop Vocal Album: The E.N.D. — The Black Eyed Peas

Best Male R&B Vocal Performance: “Pretty Wings” — Maxwell

Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals: “Blame It” — Jamie Foxx & T-Pain

Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance: “At Last” — Beyoncé

Best Rock Instrumental Performance: “A Day in the Life” — Jeff Beck

Best Urban/Alternative Performance: “Pearls” — India.Arie & Dobet Gnahore

Best R&B Song: “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” — Thaddis Harrell, Beyoncé Knowles, Terius Nash & Christopher Stewart, songwriters (Beyoncé)

Best Rap Solo Performance: “D.O.A. (Death Of Auto-Tune)” — Jay-Z

Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group: “Crack a Bottle” — Eminem, Dr. Dre & 50 Cent

Best Rap Song: “Run This Town” — Jeff Bhasker, Shawn Carter, Robyn Fenty, Kanye West & Ernest Wilson, songwriters (Athanasios Alatas, songwriter) (Jay-Z, Rihanna & Kanye West)

Best Rap Album: Relapse — Eminem

Best Male Pop Vocal Performance: “Make It Mine” — Jason Mraz

Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals: “Lucky” — Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat

Best Female Country Vocal Performance: “White Horse” — Taylor Swift

Best Male Country Vocal Performance: “Sweet Thing” — Keith Urban

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album — Michael Bublé Meets Madison Square Garden — Michael Bublé

Best Metal Performance: “Dissident Aggressor” — Judas Priest

Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals: “I Run to You” — Lady Antebellum

Best Country Collaboration With Vocals: “I Told You So” — Carrie Underwood & Randy Travis

Best Country Song: “White Horse” — Liz Rose & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift)

Best Americana Album: Electric Dirt — Levon Helm

Best Contemporary Blues Album: Already Free — The Derek Trucks Band

Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media: Slumdog Millionaire — Various Artists, A.R. Rahman, producer

Best Song Written For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media: “Jai Ho” (From Slumdog Millionaire) — Gulzar, A.R. Rahman & Tanvi Shah, songwriters (A.R. Rahman, Sukhvinder Singh, Tanvi Shah, Mahalaxmi Iyer & Vijay Prakash)

Best Recording Package: Everything That Happens Will Happen Today — Stefan Sagmeister, art director (David Byrne & Brian Eno)

Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package: Neil Young Archives Vol. I (1963-1972) — Gary Burden, Jenice Heo & Neil Young, art directors (Neil Young)

Best Short Form Music Video: “Boom Boom Pow” — The Black Eyed Peas

Best Long Form Music Video: “The Beatles Love – All Together Now” — (Various Artists)

Best Comedy Album: A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift Of All! — Stephen Colbert