Tag Archives: record digging

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

Scenes from the record convention

On the first gloriously sunny 50-degree day of spring in our corner of Wisconsin, a bunch of us stayed inside and went record digging.

More than 300 people turned out for the spring Green Bay Record Convention. I helped set up, then helped my friends run their table. Some of the things seen, heard and thought during all the digging …

— Anyone who tells you men aren’t high maintenance hasn’t met a couple of our record dealers.

One of them had a small bank of recessed spotlights over his crates. It hadn’t been turned on. “I can’t sell records in the dark!” this gent whined. Never mind that all the other lights in the room were on, including the white party bulbs strung from one side of the room to the other. Never mind also that no one else complained about the lighting.

Another one wanted a deal on a $25 record. He asked me whether we would go $20. Said it wasn’t my call and pointed him to my friends. He walked over to them. They were maybe 10 feet away. So of course the first thing out of his mouth is would they go $18. Oh, come on, sir.

— This was easily the strangest record we sold: “Factual Eyewitness Testimony of UFO Encounters.” The gent who bought it had no problem with it being $25.

— This was easily the second strangest record we sold. The guy who bought it — another of my friends — conceded that he may have been buying it for the cover alone.

— My friend Dave and I go back to the ’80s, when he ran a record store near the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison, and I bought records from him. Fast forward to recent years. Dave no longer has the store but sells records at shows and online. I still am buying records from Dave. Today, while digging through his crates, I held up a copy of “Shake and Push,” a 1982 record by the Morells, a roots-rock group from Missouri.

“I bought this from you at the store on Regent Street back in the ’80s,” I said.

“Yeah,” Dave said, “I used to get those directly from the band.”

Dave isn’t high-maintenance. He’s one of our respected elders, a longtime musician in addition to being a veteran record seller. When Dave talks, I listen.

Dave and another guy were digging through my friends’ crates while I was running the table. One of them mentioned Bob Seger’s great but hard-to-find “Back In ’72” LP, which I have. That got Dave to thinking out loud that maybe he ought to get a copy of “Heavy Music,” the compilation of early Bob Seger and the Last Heard singles released last year. Dave thought it might be a limited edition and seemed to doubt there would be a second pressing.

When the record show was over, I went across town and bought it. When Dave talks, I listen.

— Finally, one last thought: Does anyone buy Linda Ronstadt records anymore? Didn’t see anyone who bought one today. Haven’t seen anyone buy one in a long, long time.

Had someone been seeking the Linda Ronstadt record with that song on it, it would be this one from 1970, which I believe I saw in someone’s crates today.

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Filed under March 2019, Sounds

Downstairs at Prange’s

Imagine seeing a photo of something you thought existed only in memory. As you try to process it, the whole thing takes your breath away. Then you catch your breath and settle down to scrutinizing the tiniest details of the photo.

So it is with this photo, posted earlier this month by the Sheboygan County Historical Research Center to its Facebook page. It carried this four-word caption: “Record department. H.C. Prange.”

When I grew up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, in the ’60s and ’70s, everyone went down by Prange’s. It was the biggest department store in that city of 50,000 along Lake Michigan.

The record department was in the basement. You went down the main escalator and there it was, over to your right as you stepped off, a dazzling world of colorful and thrilling LPs spread out before you. 45s? Sure, but those you could get at the neighborhood dime store. Prange’s was where you came to ponder the mighty LP.

This photo is from 1969 or later. In the row going up diagonally from the lower left corner are the Beatles’ “Revolver” and “Magical Mystery Tour” and the Archies’ “Sugar Sugar,” the latter released as an import in 1969. I’d love to see this photo at higher resolution so I could try to ID some of the other records.

I never bought a lot of LPs at Prange’s — all I had was paper route money, and not much of it — but what I did buy were among the first albums I ever owned. I still have them all.

— I gave Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Cosmo’s Factory” LP to my friend Mike for his 13th birthday. It came out in July 1970. His birthday was in October. Truth be told, I’d wanted it for myself. Instead, I got Creedence’s “Green River,” which by then was a year old. It all worked out.

Neil Diamond’s “Tap Root Manuscript,” released in November 1970. I also was 13 and had been listening to AM Top 40 radio almost non-stop all that year.

— Isaac Hayes’ “Shaft” soundtrack, released in July 1971.

Wings’ “Wild Life,” released in December 1971.

Then there’s this.

When I was 13, I was tempted by, perhaps even obsessed with, Janis Joplin’s “Pearl.” It had been released in January 1971, midway through my eighth-grade year. I liked the music. Mostly, though, I thought her pose on the cover was kind of hot — and, yes, I already had some sense of someone being a hot mess — and I really didn’t want to try to explain that to my parents.

So I never bought “Pearl” at Prange’s. Truth be told, it’s only been in the last 10 years that I finally bought “Pearl.” I’ve since bought three or four copies, always looking for a cover in a bit nicer condition than the one before.

Maybe I’ll even frame it someday. It tells quite a story about a young record digger, even if only he recognizes it.

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Filed under November 2018, Sounds

All records $2, except the $1 ones

When a Gordon Lightfoot record you thought no one would ever want is the first record you sell, that’s a sign that it’s going to be a special day.

That was Saturday at the Green Bay Record Convention.

The picture above was taken just as the show opened. As it turns out, the picture was taken from the corner where I spent most of the day.

In baseball lingo, I’m the pinch hitter in our lineup. If the show sells out, I sit at the back door and work as a gofer. If the show doesn’t sell out, I’m comped a table so we’re full. On Saturday, one vendor didn’t show. After giving the missing vendor an extra hour, I opened for business at 11.

“This is really a cheap crowd,” the older guy at the next table said to me late in the day. He was new to the Green Bay show and its record diggers. His crates were a hodgepodge of genres, all seemingly priced by a guide. This gent didn’t have many bargains in his crates. It didn’t seem that he sold a lot of records.

Everything in my crates was marked down to $2, save for the stuff that was already marked down to $1. And, yes, I know full well that I should have charged more for some of my records. But that turned out to be the sweet spot. Our crowds tend to be bargain hunters. I’ve never sold so many records.

I no longer have any records by Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, nor any by the Blasters, Jerry Reed, Johnny Rivers or Cameo. Know them well. Just didn’t listen to them anymore.

My collection is down to three Elvis records, and two of them are still in my sale crates, having gone unsold on Saturday. Perhaps another day.

“I Don’t Need You No More,” the J. Geils Band, from “The Morning After,” 1971.

Once upon a time, I had all 14 of the J. Geils Band’s live and studio records. Now there are seven left. Kinda wish a couple of them hadn’t sold Saturday, but it’s time for someone else to enjoy them.

Which is where we’re headed. After Saturday, there are fewer than 1,000 records in my collection for the first time in a long time.

Downsizing is the plan going forward. Been thinking for some time now about getting my collection down to a more manageable, more enjoyable number. Let’s say 100 records. But that’s another post for another day.

For the record, so to speak: When last we gathered, I polled the crowd on whether I should go see an arena show with Bad Company and Cheap Trick or a theater show with Herman’s Hermits after the record show on Saturday. Thank you for your votes. But as it turns out, I did neither. We went to see our niece play hockey instead.

 

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Filed under October 2018, Sounds

The girl from the record store

There was a profound sense of loss today, and it had nothing to do with the news of the day.

We have lost the tiny, cherubic girl from the record store.

taelor-grisack

You’d see her with her dad, digging through the bins at Rock N Roll Land or at the Green Bay record shows. You were struck by her dazzling red curls.

“She was a fun person. Loved music. Got so excited about every record she found,” my friend Todd told me tonight. He runs that record store.

Indeed, the joy she expressed when she found THAT record was memorable.

Her name was Taelor. She was 17. She was swimming. Perhaps her heart gave out, her dad says. They don’t really know yet.

Taelor, the daughter of a musician and a drummer herself, loved the Beatles.

Todd played a cut from “Magical Mystery Tour” for Taelor at last night’s Record Night. That takes place at a local establishment that Taelor would not have been old enough to have been in. Well done, sir.

Just 17. Wow.

Say hi to John and George, will you?

 

 

 

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Filed under November 2016