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TRX: Live and In Person

Bringing the music to the people


When asked what he is most proud of so far, Michael Bunnell says it has been the in-store performances. It's a practice the store started doing 20 years ago. Over the years, they've featured hundreds of artists, including people like Ben Harper, Curtis Stigers, Josh Ritter, The Frames, Charlie Louvin, James McMurtry, Doug Martsch, Band of Horses and many more.

But one of Bunnell's least-favorite days at The Record Exchange was February 4, 2000, known in Record Exchange circles as "the day Billy Corgan came to town."

"Giant egos were flying everywhere," Bunnell said. That sentiment is echoed by many current and past employees. Bunnell recalls how they built a "wall" between the stage and the bathroom so no one could see when Billy Corgan, leader of Smashing Pumpkins, had to answer the call of nature. They hired Boise State football players to move the store racks (which were full of product) so the fans would fit in the space.

The Smashing Pumpkins, front and center at The Record Exchange - COURTESY OF THE RECORD EXCHANGE

"I remember ceiling tiles started falling from the roof after they started playing," said Kathleen O'Brien. "And there were a thousand kids outside the door wanting to get in."

Contrast that debacle with a recent in-store by Idaho's Josh Ritter, and it is obvious The Record Exchange folks have learned a lesson or two. In between Ritter's songs, it was so quiet you could hear the buzz from the fluorescent lights. Recordings from the performance were released worldwide on a major label EP.

The Record Exchange staff each has their own favorite in-store of years past. One of Bunnell's favorite in-stores was The Melvins.

"I am not a Melvins fan, but I remember they showed up and said, 'Hey, we're going to come in Sunday and play,'" Bunnell said. The band showed up on a Sunday morning, plugged in and rocked the store. "It was awesome," said Bunnell.

"I think there was some champagne involved," added Johnstone with a laugh.

Johnstone cites Flogging Molly and Ben Harper as two of his favorite in-stores.

"The first Ben Harper show was amazing ... he didn't play anywhere else but [The Record Exchange]," recalls Johnstone. "[And] the Flogging Molly show just rocked."

Jil Sevy claims the Rhett Miller in-store was one of the best. She also said her opinion may be skewed because, as Sevy put it, Miller is so cute.

"I remember he had this girlfriend who was one of the most beautiful women I'd ever seen," said Sevy with a sigh. But Sevy also has her least favorite in-store, when Jewel played.

"To show our gratitude we said she could grab a couple of CDs," Sevy said. "I remember her coming to the counter with a stack of CDs up to her chin."

Record Exchange staff said they're committed to putting on even more in-stores in the future. Because of these shows, Record Exchange promotions guru Joy Hart said that "I have seen more live music in the last two years than I have seen in the last 10."

—Ryan Peck

See Also:

The Timeline

The Veteran: Tim Johnstone

The Veteran: Lee Flinn

The Veteran: John O'Neil

The Music: In-store shows rock TRX