Mark your calendar and prepare your wallet: This Saturday, April 20, marks the sixth annual Record Store Day. Originally begun in 2008 as a way to pull music fans away from their computers and back into the already-dwindling brick-and-mortar shops, Record Store Day has grown larger with each passing year. It's not quite a bank holiday, and Hallmark hasn't yet issued cards for it (we checked). However, it's certainly become an annual tradition, probably destined to take its place next to Cinco de Mayo and Earth Day as accepted celebration days.
Record Store Day is not without its critics. Most of the gripes stem from the so-called exclusive releases -- some vinyl versions of long-deleted classics, some deluxe versions of well-known hits, but most of them overpriced. This is a fair point. There's definitely some profiteering going on. I remember spending last year in a line snaking through Vintage Vinyl to the exclusives, only to find them either picked over or, frankly, more expensive versions of releases still widely available. My patience was rewarded with a copy of Numero Group's WTNG 89.9: Solid Bronze, an amazing compilation of '70s and '80s radio station private pressings. But I wasn't about to pay $28 for an album release that I could probably find in the back of the store in the used vinyl section.
For that reason, here is my three-point plan to best appreciate Record Store Day.
1) Ignore the exclusives. Focus on the other 80 percent of the selection that will still be there the next day. Make every day Record Store Day. Your new favorite record may be waiting for you deep within the recesses of the used bins, and it may only set you back a few bucks. (That noted, do not pass up the chance to pick up the Husker Du seven-inch, the Orange Juice vinyl reissues, and the 1982 live LP by reunited pop-psych masters The Three O'Clock.)
2) Buy local. Several St. Louis labels and artists are bringing out new material to coincide with Record Store Day's foot traffic. Grace Basement's latest album, Wheel Within A Wheel, should be available on the 20th. Cassie Morgan is releasing a solo seven-inch, "A Day Longer" / "Wake Up," her first new recordings since 2010. New label Extension Chords debuts with two releases, a seven-inch by the Chainsaw Gentlemen and a split single with Beth Bombara and Town Cars. Rankoutside Records is coming out with seven-inches from the Union Electric, Tenement Ruth, and May Day Orchestra. And established labels like Tower Groove are taking advantage of Record Store Day to put on in-store showcases.
3) Come for the records, stay for the free beer and live music. Several area shops are taking advantage of the day to put on mini-music festivals. Literally dozens of local bands, rappers, DJs, solo performers and local personalities will be performing for free. Even if you're broke, there's no reason to miss out on a rather jaw-dropping array of local talent between the various locations.
Click through the following pages for a rundown of the various RSD celebrations taking place at local stores.
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