Monthly Archives: August 2020

Where should I sign?

Autographed Taylor Swift folklore CDs at the Exclusive Company in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

This is quite a story if you haven’t already heard it.

Delivery guy drops a box of 30 autographed Taylor Swift “folklore” CDs at a record store 15 minutes before it opens. A young woman signs for it. She’s sitting on the sidewalk, waiting for the store to open. She realizes what the package likely contains and protects it as if it were gold. She hands it over to the record store manager when he arrives to open for the day.

Well, that happened right here in Green Bay a week ago. The record store is The Exclusive Company, one of my regular stops. The store manager is my friend Tom Smith. The Taylor Swift fan is Brandy Baenen, who’s 26.

“‘Taylor would not have wanted me to walk off with this,” she told Tom, who later that day told the story on social media and watched it go viral.

Which got me to thinking about autographs. I’ve never been a big autograph guy. Not athletes, not celebrities and not musicians. I’d rather chat briefly with them, say I enjoyed their performance, and leave it at that.

That said, I do have a few signed records and CDs.

The late, great Steve Goodman signed his “Artistic Hair” record for me after I saw him play at the old Madison Civic Center in the spring of 1983. I vividly remember Goodman sitting at the table, looking up and asking my name for the inscription. Either I mumbled or he misheard me. As you see, he signed mine “JOE / Hello / Steve Goodman.” I was vaguely disappointed at first, but have long since enjoyed it as another delightful gift from Goodman.

Colin Hay Man @ Work autographed CD

After Colin Hay played a solo one-nighter at our local casino lounge in the summer of 2005, I queued up for his autograph on his “Man @ Work” CD. Our son Evan was 10 at the time. He was just getting into music. One of the songs on that 2003 record, “Beautiful World,” was one of his favorites.

Sleepy LaBeef Nothin' But the Truth autographed LP

Sleepy LaBeef, the human jukebox, was one of my all-time favorites. I pulled out “Nothin’ But the Truth,” his 1986 live record, for Sleepy to sign when he played a rockabilly festival at our local casino in 2007. At some point, I managed to crease a corner of the album jacket, and that bugs me to this day.

Carlene Carter autograph on Stronger CD

Carlene Carter autograph on Carter Girl CD

Though we saw Carlene Carter live in 2009, my autographed CDs came by mail. She has the best penmanship and nicest signature of any of my autographs. Fun fact: Ray Nitschke was a close second.

(I also have a CD signed by all the members of The Ides of March, circa 2011, but that was a post-show assembly-line deal rather than a face-to-face meetup. The Ides’ Jim Peterik signed his book for me three years later. I have a 12-inch single signed by all three ladies in The Three Degrees, circa 1978. Bought that for fun.)

(Found while rounding up those autographs: Autographed CDs by blues guitarists John Cephas and Phil Wiggins — a birthday gift in 1993 after we saw them earlier that year — and by country singer Danni Leigh from after a 2004 show at our local casino lounge.)

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Filed under August 2020, Sounds

Greetings from Maryland

One of the great things about record digging is where it takes you while traveling. You often get down to the neighborhood level, where many tourists don’t go. You find other cool places along the way.

That was our trip to Maryland a couple of weeks ago. Knowing we’d have time for record digging, I did some research, googling record stores in the area and checking the great record store app from The Vinyl District blog, which is run by my friend Jon.

Sonidos! record store card and receipt

First stop: Sonidos! in Beltsville, a tiny but lovely shop not far from our son’s apartment. In these pandemic times, Claudia and Gabe ask customers to book appointments for record digging. We touched base via Facebook message, and I took the first hour on a Thursday afternoon. New day!

It’s nice to dig through a great bunch of records that are well organized, often in perfect alphabetical order, and priced right. Records that should cost more did cost more. More common records were priced to move.

Another great thing about digging while traveling is that you sometimes see records you never see, or rarely see, in the Midwest. My Sonidos! finds were those kinds of records: Solomon Burke’s “Proud Mary” and Mongo Santamaria’s “Workin’ On A Groovy Thing,” both from 1969.

Turns out Sonidos! is less than a mile up the road from Sardi’s Pollo A La Brasa, where we got Peruvian chicken takeout the night before. Ain’t no Peruvian chicken takeout in Green Bay!

Spin Groove Records van

Second stop: Spin Groove Records in Easton, in eastern Maryland. It’s much like Rock n’ Roll Land, one of my regular stops in Green Bay, well stocked with lots of used vinyl and used CDs, all reasonably priced.

Spin Groove’s ramshackle charm starts at the street, where you see the van. There’s a hippie Jesus figurine and a cooler next to the driver’s seat. Bill’s shop is upstairs in a two-story building it shares with a pizza place, a Pakistani-Indian restaurant and store, and some other businesses and offices. You walk up past what look like some small apartments to get there.

Went through the regular-priced vinyl. Found the Mongo Santamaria record I’d found the day before. Kept digging. Went through some $5 vinyl. Nothing. Kept digging. Went through some $2 vinyl. Boom! My Spin Groove Records finds among that $2 vinyl: Count Basie and His Orchestra with “Basie’s Beatle Bag” from 1966 and the “Soul Christmas” comp on Atco from 1968.

Turns out Spin Groove is in Easton’s East End, an older neighborhood that’s being revived. So is Rude Burger, a nice local place where we had lunch that Friday afternoon. Rude BBQ, run by the same folks, is across the street.

Red Onion Records interior

Third stop: Red Onion Records in Hyattsville, another tiny shop not far from our son’s apartment. In these pandemic times, the proprietor slid a table in front of the door when we reached the limit of five people.

This was another place with a bunch of records rarely or never seen in the Midwest. My Red Onion Records find: Secret Squirrel and Morocco Mouse in “Super Spy,” more Hanna-Barbera cartoon spy music from 1966.

Turns out Red Onion Records was four blocks from where we met our son and his friend for lunch that Sunday afternoon. That was handy because we were killing time before lunch.

Left behind in Maryland: Can’t buy everything, even more stuff I never see in Wisconsin. Saw some Bohannon records. Saw some Trombones Unlimited records with presumably groovy covers of ’60s pop and rock songs. Saw “The Plastic Cow Goes Moooooog,” a Mike Melvoin record from 1969 with Moog covers of ’60s pop and rock songs. OhhhhhhhhK.

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Filed under August 2020