It’s easy to view Record Store Day as just another commercial ploy, a glorified means of using a level of sentimentality that borders on scare tactics to camouflage what is really another act of commerce.
But interest in the event in many cities, including Lexington, has grown into daylong celebrations fortified by live music. After all, record stores and live performance are the building blocks of any music community. So when one of those components finds itself on the endangered species list of artistic resources, it sometimes takes a blatantly commercial ploy to help save the day.
What prompted Record Store Day? Some might say nostalgia for the days when record stores were daytime hubbubs for music lovers, a place to mull over the latest new releases and undoubtedly debate with others which recordings were cool and which weren’t.
Record stores also were home bases for the cultish strongholds that continued to champion vinyl recordings as the format began to dwindle at the end of the ’80s. Curiously, vinyl has mounted a hearty comeback in recent years. In fact, even as revenue from compact discs continued to nosedive, sales of vinyl recordings have increased over the past year.
But Record Store Day goes beyond all that. I could happily bore you until next week about the role record stores played in younger years. But the event has taken on new importance of late. The digital age of music has provided us unimagined convenience in accessing and distributing music. But that accessibility has grossly devalued recorded music. Illegal downloading and file sharing might have destroyed the grossly corroded music industries of decades past. But they also have made it next to impossible for indie bands of any level to collect much in hard profit from their work. Sure, they can sell CDs at their gigs. Most acts do. But reclaiming any serious royalty compensation from online sales and services – even the legal ones – is often a lost cause.
So if it takes a purely commercial venture like Record Store Day to remind us of recorded music’s artistic worth, so be it.
Besides, look at what fun Record Store Day has become. Among the artists releasing exclusive recordings on Saturday will be The Avett Brothers with Randy Travis, Marco Benevento, The Black Keys, David Bowie, Billy Bragg, Eric Church, Elizabeth Cool, Mike Cooley, Bob Dylan, Justin Townes Earle, Alejandro Escovedo, The Flaming Lips, The Grateful Dead, Patty Griffin, Grizzly Bear, Iron and Wine, King Crimson, Tift Merritt, Mumford & Sons, Willie Nelson, Ra Ra Riot, R.E.M., The Rolling Stones, The Roots, Josh Rouse, Sigur Ros, Richard Thompson, Paul Weller and Steven Wilson.
At CD Central, which will open an hour earlier than usual, Record Store Day comes with a full lineup of free live music from Lexington and beyond. Here’s the lineup: Italian Beaches (1 p.m.); 193 Sound showcase featuring Birmingham, Ala., visual artist/musician Lonnie Holley (2 pm), Fifth on the Floor (3 p.m.) and Blood Pheasant (4 p.m.).
Over at Pops Resale on Leestown Rd, Shozo will perform.
For more information on the kind of local, global and cultural event Record Store Day has become, go to Recordstoreday.com.
Record Store Day will be celebrated today starting at 9 a.m. at CD Central, 377 South Limestone, and 11 a.m. at Pop’s Resale, 1423 Leestown Rd.