Houston Celebrates Record Store Day in Grand Style

Photos by Jim Bricker
Record Store Day fans waiting to get into Cactus Music
Frustrated. Nervous. Tired. Anxious. Wired. Those are pretty much the only words to describe the numerous Record Store Day lines throughout town Saturday. Nope, tax day was four days prior so these lines were certainly not at your local H&R Block. These were the emotions of a quickly growing group of collectors lining up around town at their favorite record stores.

Record Store Day is the equivalent to a vinyl lovers' Christmas. For hours and hours, people line up outside of their favorite record store in anticipation of getting one or several of a limited release of specialty records made for just the day.

Towards the front of the lines people had no worries about not getting a specific record, but they had earned their carefree ability with an unprecedented time of sitting and waiting, but as the lines grew the hope for those at the back of them started to diminish. And for good reason. If you're 50 people back in line, and your record store has only three copies of a specific album, then most likely you're not going to get it. If you're 500 people back, you're definitely not going to get it.

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The Rocks Off 200: Alex LaRotta, Crate-Digging Fistful of Soul Brother

Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.

Fistful of Soul's Alex LaRotta
Who? Until Neil DeGrasse Tyson invents the time machine, the rare wax and vintage threads on display each month at Midtown's monthly Fistful of Soul dance party are just about the best escape Houstonians have got back into the golden age of conked hair and skinny lapels. For nearly five years, Joe Ross and Stewart Anderson have been mixing choice cuts from their vast vinyl collections into the city's finest revue of classic funk, R&B and soul music on the third Friday of every month, starting at the Mink and now residing at the Big Top Lounge.

Alex LaRotta is the Fistful brotherhood's Johnny-come-lately, having joined forces with Ross and Stewart last year. He's hardly a newcomer to spinning hard-to-find 45s from the '60s and '70s, however, having amassed more than 5,000 records in his years-long quest to become one of Texas' top authorities on the stankiest tunes from that bygone era.

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Your 2013 Houston Record Store Day Rundown

Your financial situation be damned, Record Store Day 2013 is coming this Saturday, April 20, to drain your wallet of life and those little green pieces of paper.

This Saturday your dance card should be full with all the major indie record stores in Houston and the surrounding areas offering up giveaways and special RSD merch, along with their own in-store markdowns.

This year's RSD ambassador is Jack White, the veritable king of the modern vinyl movement, who loves wowing fans with oddball promotions through his Third Man label.

As part of the festivities this year, certain stores -- including Cactus Music -- will be showing the documentary Last Shop Standing: The Rise and Fall and Rebirth of the Independent Record Shop, based on a book by Graham Jones and directed by Pip Piper, centering on dwindling British shops.

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The Unsent Letter to Art Garfunkel I Found In a Record Sleeve

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This past weekend I went digging for records at some thrift stores near my parent's house in Pearland. Yes, the fella who wrote a blog about needing to pare down his record collection went looking for more to add to his pile.


Liquidating Your Record Collection Is Harder Than You Would Think

Inside a copy of Simon and Garfunkel's Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme I found an unsent letter to Mr. Art Garfunkel, one-half of the iconic folk-rock harmony duo, from a Sherry L. Jarrard of Dahlonega, Georgia, north of Gainesville.

The album, released in 1966, features the beloved cuts "Homeward Bound," "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" and "Scarborough Fair."

Sure, I have found cool things in the record sleeves of used LPs, and most record-store owners have stories about things they have found inside boxes of albums they have bought up.

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Exploring Sweet Spot Audio And Records In Webster

Sweet Spot on Facebook
A few weeks back, our own Marc Brubaker detailed ten of the best record stores in the Houston area. This past weekend I finally visited another one to add to your list of must-visit shops in Houston, and it is worthy of the drive if you live inside the Inner Loop.

Sweet Spot Audio and Records is located in Webster, at the corner of Highway 3 and Bay Area Boulevard, and is run by a husband-and-wife team from the area who retired and jumped into the record store business.


Houston's Top 10 Record Stores

Nigel Harrison first opened up Sweet Spot in League City two years ago, intending to make his store a sort of "Hallmark for men," but he soon shifted gears into audio components (turntables, speakers, receivers) and new and used vinyl. He still carries band shirts and other trinkets alongside the vinyl.

Sweet Spot is now the only true record store in the Webster/Clear Lake area, and Harrison has customers aged 14 to 75 he says, some who come from as far as Beaumont to visit.

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Heights Vinyl Celebrates One Year Slinging Wax

Photo by Allison McPhail
Craig T. Brown at Heights Vinyl
This weekend Heights Vinyl celebrates its first year of life with a big party at their shop on White Oak, just blocks from Fitzgerald's, featuring beer, food, giveaways, and performances from Electric Attitude, Brandon West, Come See My Dead Person and the Heights Boogaloo All-Stars, a band brought together by store owner Craig T. Brown.


Your Wallet's New Mortal Enemy: Heights Vinyl On White Oak

In an age when record stores are supposed to be shuttering, Heights Vinyl has proven industry numbers wrong by thriving, with brisk sales, great weekend crowds, a decent location and in-store performances almost every weekend. Along with Cactus Music, Vinal Edge, Sound Exchange, Sig's Lagoon and Black Dog, the shop a couple of doors down from Fitzgerald's is showing that Houstonians are still mad about vinyl and actually buying music.

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Father Sean Horrigan Set to Rock Leon's Lounge Tonight

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photo courtesy of Sean Horrigan
The Celebrity DJ" Fridays at Leon's Lounge take a turn from the secular to the sacred tonight when Father Sean Horrigan, pastor at Christ the Redeemer Church, commands the turntables.

Horrigan, whom we ran into last Saturday night at the Wagoneers show at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, was the music editor at the Daily Cougar at University of Houston during his Eighties college years and says his set will be primarily an '80s revue.

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Vinal Edge Records Moving to the Heights

Photo by Daniel Kramer
Vinal Edge owner Chuck Roast
Exalted record haunt Vinal Edge Records, which for more than 26 years has been a destination for vinyl enthusiasts all over Houston off Veterans Memorial Drive, is moving into the Heights. To be specific, 239 W. 19th Street, in the thick of all the funky antique and craft stores.

Late last week on the store's Facebook page, owner Chuck Roast let the official cat out of the proverbial bag.

"We will gain a couple hundred square feet and it is sweet," says Roast. Hoping to open July 1, Vinal Edge will be having various load-lightening moving sales until then. Roast is too swamped with moving details to enumerate exactly on which of his stock he'll be cutting prices, but the initial FB post did mention cassettes.

Roast played a big part in my recent Press feature about the vinyl resurgence, too, dishing out knowledge to readers. Roast was selling vinyl at punk shows in Houston in the '80s before opening his store.

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Cover Story: Cleaning & Caring For Your Vinyl Collection

Photo by Flickr user Demin Dave
This week's feature, "Playing for Keeps," takes a look at the resurgence of the vinyl record. When you think about it, vinyl is probably the most enduring musical format in the history of home audio. How many people's record collections were started with hand-me-downs from their parents?

But it's not just old records that need TLC. When you buy that special edition LP on Record Store Day this weekend, you'll want to do a few things to it to ensure you'll be able to pass it down to your future offspring, or at least listen to it for as many years as you want.

For this advice, I turned to the biggest audiophile I know, my own husband Christopher, who has something like 700 records, nearly all of them vintage, and most purchased for under $2.

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Cover Story: Wanna See A Vinyl Record Get Pressed Before Your Eyes?

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This week's Houston Press cover story, "Playing For Keeps," dives into the world of vinyl records, with interviews with local collectors and shop owners who are helping keep the medium alive in the Bayou City. Research for this cover story took me as far north as Dallas, where I visited with A&R Records' Stanley Getz II, who showed me around his record pressing plant.

Our trip to A&R was highlighted by getting to see the Flaming Lips' Record Store Day release The Flaming Lips And Head Fwends -- which was pressed and completed at the Dallas plant -- before all 20,000 copies got ready to be shipped to record stores all over the country.

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