- Image by Chunklet Media Studios
Last year, Record Store Day was added to the national calendar, joining Bean Day, Knife Day and Sauntering Day. But unlike May's Lumpy Rug Day or September's Hobbit Day, April's Record Store Day does more than give a half-dozen people a reason to send cards to the other half-dozen people who acknowledge Deviled Egg Day. It's a time for entire communities to come together and support the one place where they've discovered music that has changed their lives: their local independent music store.
And the music fans get something out of it, too.
Record Store Day—which happens on Saturday, April 18—may ultimately become for music stores what the day after Thanksgiving is for department stores. But the purpose of Record Store Day is larger than moving a bushel of Taylor Swift CDs, explained Michael Bunnell, owner of The Record Exchange.
"Record stores are cultural oases in the middle of a lot of bland real estate. [Think] how much poorer everybody would be without these sort of places. It's bookstores, record stores, coffee shops and cool bars. Where else do you get this kind of culture or counter-culture for that matter. These are crucial places."
It's that understanding and his passion for keeping independent record stores open and thriving that helped push Bunnell to take his mission beyond Boise. Bunnell is the new executive director of the Coalition of Independent Music Stores, one of the groups responsible for creating Record Store Day. And this event is promising to become a big damn deal.
Last year's Record Store Day shot out of the box with such a bang that many more stores across the country, and even overseas, are joining in the celebration this year. The labels involved are offering an incredible array of exclusive releases—many of which are commercial releases and re-issues that have been held until Record Store Day—and a truckload of giveaways. More record labels "came to the table this year" than last as The Record Exchange marketing and promotions manager Joy Hart said, providing a pleasant image of music conglomerates, independent labels and small businesses sitting down together, discussing what's best for consumers.
Big labels such as Sony, Epitaph, Warner Bros., Def Jam, Capitol and Rhino joined the likes of Sub Pop, Kill Rock Stars and Light in the Attic to drop enough CDs and vinyl to fill every crack, hole and fissure in Boise's streets. Stores will carry exclusive releases from Ben Harper, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Cold War Kids, Death Cab for Cutie, Depeche Mode, Flight of the Conchords, Grateful Dead, Iron and Wine, Jane's Addiction, Leonard Cohen, Modest Mouse, Radiohead, Slayer, Sonic Youth and Jay Reatard, Tift Merritt, Tom Waits, Wilco and more, more, more, including a new one from My Morning Jacket, a release both Bunnell and Hart are excited about.
And most everything is available at price points that promise a music lover with a $20 bill can walk out of the store with at least one record, if not three, and some fun freebies like stickers, posters, samplers, iron-ons, tote bags and calendars. For example, six bucks nets SoCal-sound lovers a Sublime 7-inch with two live tracks recorded in 1992 on vinyl for the first time ever; 20 bucks adds a Record Store Day-exclusive Death Cab for Cutie T-shirt to a DCFC fan's wardrobe. Find the entire list of releases at recordstoreday.com
Visitors to The Record Exchange on Record Store Day this year will see that Bunnell supports not only his customers by bringing in cool new stuff, but also supports the local music scene by hosting local bands and musicians.
"We turned down some touring acts in favor of keeping it all local," Bunnell said.
"And we had some great offers," Hart added.
The day will be filled with DJ sets by well-known local DJ and producer Art Hodge, 94.9 The River's Tim Johnstone, musician Curtis Stigers and brothers Chad and Travis Dryden, founders of the Vinyl Preservation Society. In the evening, bands Le Fleur and La Knots will each perform sets to celebrate the release of the Rotating Tongues II compilation, which contains two new songs each from 25 local bands and musicians and was recorded earlier this year at Visual Arts Collective. Pie Hole will be there offering pizza by the slice, Go Listen Boise will be on hand with a bake sale, and The Record Exchange steps it up with free coffee and fountain drinks, 20 percent off all used vinyl, 50 percent off select gift items and a permanent price reduction on a number of CDs.
Record Store Day isn't just an opportunity for record companies or record stores to sell records. It's a chance for communities to support their local "cultural oases."