Eight years ago, the initiation of Record Store Day seemed like a last gasp promotion to save a dying industry. With the music industry in a tailspan resulting from digital downloading of music, retail outlets selling compact discs or any other form of recorded music began to disappear. Suddenly, the neighborhood record store – once an epicenter of sorts for rabid audiophiles to mull over new releases, rediscover forgotten classics and exchange views with like minded enthusiasts – seemed headed for extinction.
The premise of Record Store Day was simple and effective – to promote independent record stores by having artists big and small issue products, primarily vinyl recordings, exclusive for sale that day. Sometimes those treats would be as simple as a two-sided, two song 7” record of previously issued music. In other instances, it might be an album or CD-length concert recording never heard before that would disappear again after Record Store Day passed. In recent years, Iron & Wine, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Devo and Govt. Mule have indulged in the latter practice.
Then the artists got directly involved with performances and in-store appearances. My Morning Jacket, the Kentucky HeadHunters and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are among the acts that have stopped by vanguard Lexington record store CD Central over the years. On a national scale, artists as diverse as Metallica, Paul McCartney, Neko Case, Tom Waits and Steve Earle have been vocal supporters of Record Store Day.
Today, Record Store Day hits again. Over 20 stores throughout Kentucky and close to 1,000 nationally will be participating. Again, the list of artists issuing exclusive vinyl recordings is extensive and stylistically far-reaching. They include Ryan Adams, Asleep at the Wheel, Courtney Barnett, The Black Keys, David Bowie, Junior Brown, Buena Vista Social Club, George Clinton, The Decemberists, Bob Dylan, Brian Eno, The Flaming Lips, Foo Fighters, Jethro Tull, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Robert Earl Keen, The Mavericks, Father John Misty, Mumford & Sons, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Phish, Robert Plant, John Prine, Sun Ra, Steve Reich, The Replacements, Simple Minds, Todd Snider, Bruce Springsteen, Chris Stapleton, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, U2, Vampire Weekend, The Waterboys, Brian Wilson, Cassandra Wilson, Wu-Tang Clan and The Zombies – and many others. Not all stores will carry all the available product.
Three Lexington locales – CD Central, Sami’s Music/The Album and Pop’s Resale – will be celebrating Record Store Day. CD Central will again be turning the day into a mini-festival with an afternoon of free live local music. The store, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary in addition to Record Store Day, will present performances by Ancient Warfare, Doc Feldman and the Infernal Method and The Footsteps. DJs from WRFL-FM will be spinning records, as well.
For more info on the national initiative on Record Store Day, go to recordstoreday.com.