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.
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!
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.
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.