Posts Tagged ‘Record Store Geek’

Down to One Hoodlum

Friday, October 12th, 2012

“Have you ever thought about opening a record store?”\n\n“Uh, ambulance site not really.”\n\nThe question was posed by the Assistant Director of Arizona State University’s Student Union, recipe and although I had been managing record stores for over ten years, cure my answer was truthful.\n\n“Well,” he said, “The store that is in here now is leaving suddenly, and we’re going to need to find a new tenant.  We’d like it to be another record store.”\n\nWhile my initial response had been truthful, my situation had changed drastically over the past week: A week prior, my wife and I didn’t have any kids, and I had a good job.  A week later, I sat in my living room holding our newborn son… without a job at all.  I was what you might call desperate.\n\nSo the rest of my response went like this: “… but I’m going to start thinking about it now.”\n\nCan’t Do It By Myself\n\nI hung up the phone and tried to control my already-racing mind.  I had spent a weekend of sheer joy (new kid) and total anxiety (having my position “eliminated”) all at once, and it had been pretty tough to figure out why I was suddenly in such a situation (the no-job part, not the kid part, I knew how I did that).  Perhaps this was the way the universe was taking me.\n\nI have always believed in myself, but I wasn’t exactly sure about opening my own business.  However, if necessity is the mother of invention, she was nagging me to move forward.\n\nBut wow, what a huge task.\n\nThe ASU area was loaded with record stores.  Napster was exploding.  The corporate appliance stores were giving away hit CDs and DVDs for under cost.  More specifically, the current ASU record store had not been doing well (I knew, because it was one of eight stores under my general management just one week earlier).\n\nOne thing I knew for sure: I couldn’t do it alone.\n\nWe’re Gonna Need Another Hoodlum \n\nSo I started thinking about potential partners.  Wow, what a huge thing to think about suddenly.  What a monster relationship.  Who did I know that possessed the talent, drive, and trustworthiness necessary to even have a chance at helping pull off such a task?\n\nLuckily, I had just the guy in mind: Lloyd Hummel, my very good friend and the chief buyer and promotions wonderboy at my now-former employer (that’s Lloyd and I in L.A. meeting B.B. King).\n\n\n\nLloyd and I had worked together for the past six years, at two different employers.  He didn’t just have the characteristics needed, he had them to spare: Intelligent, creative, likeable, innovative, you name it… Lloyd had it.\n\nThe question was would he be interested.  We’d had many conversations about the direction of our current company, and I hoped that he would be.\n\nWhen I approached him about it, to my relief he was instantly ready to go.  We talked about how to approach it in terms of selection and service, and what we felt would be a general business strategy necessary to succeed in such a seasonal environment.  We both had worked closely with the store over the past few years, but we were restrained within the corporate structure of our employer, and we felt like we had some great ideas to make the store fun and profitable.\n\nThen we talked about what it would take in terms of money.\n\nWe didn’t have enough.\n\nBetter Make That Two Hoodlums\n\nWe needed another partner.\n\nAmazingly, we both knew one other guy that was intelligent, hard working, ethical, musically-knowledgeable… and cool to boot: Kristian Luce.\n\nKristian was also working with Lloyd and I at the time (and at our prior employer as well).  He was our friend and we both believed in him.\n\nHowever, we once again faced the question of whether or not he’d be interested.  It was a lot bigger mystery than it had been with Lloyd.\n\n\n\nYou see, Kristian was a laid-back kind of a dude. He did things his own way, and although he was a dependable, efficient worker in every sense of the word, he was a young man who preferred to spend his time following his muses… like the Grateful Dead.\n\nAs his manager in our previous store, I had offered to promote him into management on numerous occasions.  Even though the job meant more money, he had turned me down each time.\n\nIn short, he did things that made him happy, and he was more than happy with his below-the-radar responsibility level.  Lloyd and I were pretty sure he’d pass.\n\nBut we had to ask.  We needed one more partner.\n\nA Key Moment in Hood History\n\n\n\nI remember standing in my garage and proposing the idea to Kristian… essentially waiting to see which direction my own life might be moving.\n\nHe didn’t just like the idea.  He loved it!\n\nIt turns out that Kristian was the only one of us that had ever previously thought about opening a store.  Who knew?\n\nSo we formed a company and submitted our proposal to ASU.  It was accepted on August 17th.  On August 24th, 1998, we opened Hoodlums New and Used Music (that’s the original picture from the New Times article about it).\n\nLucky For Me, We Needed Three Hoodlums\n\nThe store started strong, and it was obvious very early on that although we already had roughly 25 years of collective experience, we had a lot to learn.\n\nIt was also obvious that it was a damn good thing Lloyd and I had needed one more partner.  Kristian, the once “reluctant-about-work-pressure” Deadhead, was a machine.\n\nIt turns out in addition to all the music-biz qualities we had already known about, the kid was super sharp with numbers and financial planning.  We soon scrapped the idea of sharing bookkeeping duties, and our puka-wearing pseudo-accountant, and turned the money matters over to him.\n\nFrom Three Hoods Down to Two\n\nWhile the store continued to grow, it was obvious that it might not be a big enough footprint to support three partners.\n\nHowever, that was OK because our partner Lloyd had grown restless.  He had spent most of his life in the Valley, and he and his lovely wife were ready for a change.  Universal music was ready to give him the opportunity to let his inner label guy out, and he was ready to move on.\n\nWe negotiated a buy-out, wished our old pal the best of luck as he headed off to L.A.… and the next thing you know Hoodlums was just Steve and Kristian.  That was the year 2000.\n\n\n\nTwelve Wild Years\n\nOver the next twelve years, Kristian and I were part of a co-dependent relationship second only to the relationship I have with my wife.  We put every bit of our heart and soul into making Hoodlums a great record store.\n\nWe expanded.  We joined the Coalition of Independent Music Stores.  We broke sales records and we hosted tons of different musicians and artists.  We became part of the ASU community.  We saw flooding.  We were part of a fire.  We closed.\n\n\n\nHoodlums New and Used Music & DVDs became Hoodlums Music and Movies.  We reinvented.  We reopened.  We joined a new community.  We won some awards, made some more money, and made some new friends.  We closed again.\n\nDuring that time, although we always had to maintain a safe distance with respect to the business partnership, we became better friends.  We helped each other through some bad personal times, and celebrated through some great ones.\n\nDown to One Hood\n\nNow, after fourteen years in business together, Kristian has decided to move on.  He’s ready for a change, and it’s the right time to do it.\n\n\n\nHoodlums Music and Movies will give way to something else.  Our little record store will be no more.  Whatever direction the company takes, whatever reinvented entity emerges, I know one thing for sure: I’ll never be able to make up for all of the amazing things my partner brought to the table.\n\nHe worked like a truck.  He came up with some of our greatest ideas.  He drove us, and planned for us, and kept us in line in so many ways.  He allowed me to be my Record Store Geek self (which can occasionally be controversial) in spite of whether or not it was the way he would have done it.  Together, we used the different parts of our different personalities to run a successful business.\n\nI can never thank him enough for helping me live such a great life over the past fourteen years, selling something I believe in with all my heart.\n\n\n\nBack to Just Being Friends\n\nThe record store we built together may have closed its doors, but we’ve got a ton to be proud of, and our friendship will live on.  That’s a beautiful thing.\n\nStay tuned.\n\n 

New Career Choice: Not Construction

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Here’s a piece of advice: Never start a remodeling project while you are moving your record store into storage.\n\nYeah, check look you haven’t heard from me in about three weeks since the store closed. It’s not because I’m sitting around watching Cartoon Network.\n\n\n\nI’ve been framing, best viagra tadalafil roofing, doing concrete… and a whole cornucopia of vicious physical work in the eight zillion degree Valley heat.\n\nThis is the kind of work I haven’t taken on since back in my teenage days with the Ward County Highway Department (you want to talk about characters… that place was a reality show in itself).  Not exactly the kind of work I’m used to doing: Peddling music to you guys.\n\nI didn’t realize it, but those long days on the rural North Dakota roads must have been the motivation for being a retail geek in the first place (admittedly, I had Record Store Geek tendencies, but Budget Tapes and Records never had any openings).  Even then, while the work was hard, it was done in the relatively decent Nodak summers, where all we had to worry about was pterodactyl-sized mosquitos, not Africa-heat.\n\n(Hood Hat Tip: Before I go any further I gotta take my hat off to those of you that kick ass in this stuff every day.  Seriously boys and girls… you cats are tough as hell.  Insane, but tough.)\n\nEr, Not A Mover Either\n\nI may have just had an epiphany about construction, but I did realize that movers were insane long ago.\n\n\n\nWhy? Because I’m insane with empathy. I’ve lived in the Valley 25 years, and I’ve managed to move (or help family) in the summer about 16 times. I literally can’t seem to do it in the fall or winter.  I know the pain.\n\nThis time was no different.  A full week’s worth of dirt and sweat.\n\n(Hoodnote: While packing trucks and fixtures is relentless, the break down and clean up of all the little stuff might be worse).\n\nSo why move and remodel in the same two weeks?\n\nMy neighbor, Mark – that’s him  on the roof with my sons (they must not have read the signs about being on the site without a hard hat) – was ready to help me, and he had to do it start during the last week of August.\n\n(Hoodnote: Mark was a Hoodlums’ customer before we became friends and neighbors. Both he and his wife were official Music Junkies at the ASU store) \n\nAnyway, in addition to being cool enough to help a neighbor, Mark is really awesome at construction, and I’m totally green. Plus, he’s a lot cheaper than a general contractor.\n\nSo basically, I had no choice.\n\n\n\nLuckily, the double duty only last about ten days… and my new boss didn’t work me more than ten hours a day on the site after that.\n\nIt’s Lookin’ Good Though\n\nThe cool thing about that kind of hard, manual work is that you can really stand back and see the results of what you’ve done. Check it out. What used to be outdoor is now totally waterproof and enclosed.  That’s my daughter getting in the action (she must not have seen the \”wear shoes on the site\” sign).\n\n\n\nCool, huh?  As a hobby maybe, just not enough to beat up my middle-aged body on a daily basis.\n\nSo while I’m not entirely ready to reveal which direction Hoodlums will go (soon, my friend, soon), I know this much:\n\nWe aren’t going to be a construction company.\n\nHope all is well with you. Stay tuned…\n\n(Note: We do have to finish the job when Mark gets back in town, so wish me luck.)\n\n 

If Someone Had to be the Last Customer…

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

I managed to keep my emotions in check until the last hour or two.\n\nWhen Ray called from Flagstaff, mind viagra it was about 6:30. He said he wanted to make sure we know that he’s been all over the state shopping at record stores throughout his life… and that we were by far the best he’d ever visited. If you know how deep into music Ray is – then you know that’s some high praise from a confirmed record store geek.\n\nTo our delight and honor, generic cialis purchase we’ve been getting a lot of high praise and feedback in the past five weeks since we announced our \”hibernation\”, and as I’ve said in our videos and emails, it’s means the world to us. But we’ve had tons of work to do, and I’ve been able to thank people and move on without letting the emotion well up.\n\nMaybe it’s because we only had a few hours of business left, and there wasn’t much else we could do to sell product or help customers (since we successfully sold off an enormous amount of our stuff and couldn’t do special orders), but as I started to say \”that means a lot to us\”… I had to stop and take one of those \”slow the emotion\” breaths.\n\nThen came Emma.\n\n\n\nEmma is one of our very best customer-friends (that’s her up there with Andy). She is the youngest of three sisters, all of whom have a passion for music, all of whom have shopped at Hoodlums since our ASU days.\n\nShe applied for a job as a hoodlum back in 2007, and made it to the finalists before we chose Andy (also pictured), the last hired hoodlum standing. The ASU talent pool was deep, and we were always lucky enough to get a ton of qualified applicants, so we told Emma that although she was ultra-qualified (plus she did great on the test), we just didn’t need that many people. We promised we would keep her \”in mind\”, but unfortunately, the danger of interviewing good customers and not hiring them often means they stop shopping at the store, so we figured we may not see her again.\n\nNot Emma. She just kept shopping.\n\nWhen we re-opened (after the M.U. fire) in 2008, there was Emma (along with her sisters, Mimi and Alison) at the grand opening. I asked her if she’s still like to be considered if we eventually hired again, and she responded with an enthusiastic \”yes\”. She showed up for nearly all of our in-stores, our art shows, even the movie screenings (the picture is from our 13th birthday party). Every time I’d ask her if she was still available, hoping we’d grow slowly but surely, and she’d still say \”yes\”.\n\nBut we never hired. While we found a way to pay our bills and make it through the lease, the economy and the industry stayed stagnant, and we just didn’t grow. We found ways to streamline and improve our efficiency, to get creative and cover each other’s vacations and appointments, and we simply didn’t need anyone.\n\nBut Emma kept shopping.\n\nEarlier in my final shift, I had looked up to see Mimi, Emma’s sister (that’s her over there), come through the door. Mimi has been an equally awesome Hoodlums’ supporter, and she had that same \”sorry to hear about your closing\” look that most of our regulars were wearing. We hugged each other, and I told her to stay tuned (like I told so many of you). When I was ringing her up, I asked about Emma. She said she thought she’d be in later.\n\nA hour or so later, in walked Alison (I’m sure there’s an Alison picture somewhere, but I can’t find it), and the scene repeated itself. Same look, same well-wishes, same \”thanks for your amazing support\”.\n\nBut still no Emma.\n\nThen, with less than an hour to go, shortly after Ray had called, in walked Emma.\n\nDon’t get me wrong, it’s not like I didn’t think she’d make it. As I said, she’s a great kid, and she’s been one of our most reliable supporters, so I was prepared to see her. Plus, as I said, I had talked to many customer-friends of equal emotional status to me without losing my composure, so I didn’t think it would be over-emotional.\n\nBut for whatever reason, seeing Emma was about all the ol’ Record Store Geek could take.\n\nI made it through the hug, but I had to head to the backroom so I didn’t lose my composure in front of the customers. Upon discovering my old pal and pseudo-employee, Sari, back there, I had to suck it up big time to keep from out-and-out crying (well, I probably didn’t have to, but my North Dakota upbringing manifests itself in a few macho hang-ups).\n\nIt turns out that even though my outlook is positive, even though both Kristian and I feel like the store did not fail, after putting every bit of my heart and soul into building up \”my baby\”, it was impossible not to be a little bit sad about shutting her down.\n\nEventually, I made it back out to the floor. I was OK from that point on.\n\nSomewhere after 8PM, I put on Paul Pena’s \”New Train\”, the first album played when we opened (see the post Thank God It’s Finally Opening Day) and the final album I wanted to play as we closed (see the Last Song Facebook post from last week) and locked the door. Emma was still in the store.\n\nSo I rang up Emma. Our final customer of the store.\n\nIt could have been anybody that happened to be last.  It could have been any number of classic customers that set me off.  The last day (and the entire run) was filled with so many loyal customers. So many friends. So many tremendous conversations, memories, and relationships. I could write stories about so many of you (and you never know, I just might).\n\nBut someone had to be the final customer.\n\nI’m glad it was Emma.

Record Store Geek’s Top 10 Albums of 2011 (and more)

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

Wow, search try 2011 was a great year for music.  I can’t remember a year when I had this tough of a time making up my Top 10 Albums list (of course, seek one Top 10 list could not contain me, so like any good \”Best of\” issue, I made up a few of my own categories).\n\nWe do these lists to share our love of music… which is pretty much the reason we opened a record store in the first place.  The reason we are still here sharing thirteen years later is because you, and thousands of other music, movie, and art fans, have supported us by purchasing your favorite albums at Hoodlums.\n\nThe depth of our appreciation for this support cannot truly be expressed.  Thanks.\n\nNow, without further rambling, my Top 10 lists for 2011 (in no particular order).\n\nSteve’s Top Ten Albums of 2011\n\nDecemberists – King is Dead\nDanger Mouse and Daniele Luppi – Rome\nCharles Bradley – No Time for Dreaming\nJason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Here We Rest\nSharon Jones & Dap-Kings – Soul Time\nRaphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’\nMergence – Those Vibrant Young People Are Dead\nBlack Keys – El Camino\nJC Brooks and Uptown Sound – Want More\nWarren Haynes – Rivers Gonna Rise\n\nTen More 2011 Albums That I Really Dig\n\nCults – Cults\nFoo Fighters – Wasting Light\nVaccines – What Did You Expect From the Vaccines?\nDawes – Nothing is Wrong\nRyan Adams – Ashes and Fire\nKooks – Junk of the Heart\nMy Morning Jacket – Circuital\nTedeschi Trucks Band – Revelator\nSteve Cropper – Dedicated\nSteve Miller Band – Let Your Hair Down\n\nFive 2011 Records Andy & Kristian are playing into my collection\n\nCity and Colour – Little Hell\nBig Talk – Big Talk\nGary Clark Jr. – Bright Lights EP\nDead Man Winter – Bright Lights\nJason Isbell and the 400 Unit – S/T\n\nTop Ten Rock Catalog Discoveries of 2011\n\nLaura Nyro – Smile\nLaura Nyro – Nested\nBig Star – #1 Record/Radio City\nAtlanta Rhythm Section – Live at the Savoy\nMarshall Tucker Band – Where We All Belong\nCountry Joe and the Fish – Electric Music for the Mind\nGraham Nash – Songs for Beginners\nJosh Rouse – Subtitulo\nElectric Light Orchestra – Face the Music\nNick Drake – Bryter Layter\n\nTop Ten Jazz/Blues/Soul Catalog Discoveries of 2011\n\nAretha Franklin – Aretha Now\nThe Meters – Rejuvenation\nWilson Pickett – Hey Jude\nLou Rawls – Soulin’\nBuddy Guy/Junior Wells – Drinkin’ TNT, Smokin’ Dynamite\nLuther Allison – Love Me Mama\nFreddie Hubbard – Blue Spirits\nBarbara Dane & Chambers Brothers – Smithsonian Archival Recordings\nJimmy Dawkins – Fast Fingers\nArt Blakey – Mosaic\n\nHappy New Year to you and your family.

Reflections on 13 years of Record Store Ownership

Monday, November 28th, 2011

malady viagra and you are invited to our party.\” src\=\”×300.gif\” alt\=\”\” width\=\”226\” height\=\”300\” />Hoodlums is having our 13th Birthday Party on Saturday, remedy so New Times‘ Jason Woodbury asked me to provide some impressions on thirteen years of Record Store ownership for his Up On The Sun blog.\n\nWow, thumb that’s a big task.  But if you’ve followed Hoodlum’s social media sites, or my little Random Babblings of a Record Store Geek blog, you’ve probably read blogs or seen video explaining \”why I own a record store\”… and you know I’m constantly analyzing my whacky little world… so I’ll give it a shot.\n\nRandom observations and opinions from a Record Store Geek:\n\nIt takes more than one hoodlum to run an indie business in a corporatocracy.  Luckily, my partner Kristian has been here for thirteen years to share the load.  Because I write, tweet, post, and do the marketing, I tend to be the more-visible of the hoods, but anyone who really knows the store knows that Kristian is a music-lovin’ force-of-nature. I could do a whole article on his talents and hard work alone.  I can never thank him enough.   (Big thanks also to Joe, Andy, and the many other hoodlums who make up our Hood Hall of Fame.)\n\nThe rise of digital music has had a far-less negative affect on the music industry than the idiotic decision-making of the record labels. High-prices, customer lawsuits, substandard artist development, corporate-retail subsidies, and a continual overdose of hype have killed off a ton of indie record stores and an entire generation of potential customers.  If the major labels would have embraced digital music, and found a way to monetize it, rather than waiting for Apple to change the rules of the game, the music business would be infinitely more healthy.\n\nI personally think digital-only music is a rip-off.  Although Kristian and I have never been on a crusade to stop illegal downloading, I don’t do it.  So if I want to own a piece of music, I pay for it by buying the CD or the LP/mp3 combo.  I’m a collector.  If I like an album, I want to have it in my collection, and to me \”owning\” a file is like owning air. The music in my iTunes, iPhone, and iPod is an important part of my collection, but that part is about convenience.  I still get the files with a CD, so to me it’s a win-win.  When Hoodlums was on hiatus after the M.U. Fire, I went to the other indie stores to shop, because I need a record store.  Kristian did too.  That’s why we reopened… because we’re not the only ones that feel like this.\n\nNot giving in to the fear of a digital future has allowed us to feed our families for thirteen years.  Thanks, thanks, thanks to each and every person that has spent a cent in our store for making that possible. I still recall our Sony rep warning us about Napster before we started.  Little did he know that Napster was just the tip of the digital iceberg… and yet we are still here.\n\nI wish I could have another conversation with Brad Singer.  Brad was my old boss at Zia; the guy who started it.  As GM, I would go into his office daily and report on the stores, and then he and I would discuss/debate/argue about our ideas for the company.  A lot of our debate centered around my opinion that some of the things he felt most strongly about applied to owning/running one store, but not eight.  His unfortunate passing led to the formation of Hoodlums, and since then, as the co-owner of one store, I have come to understand his feelings a lot better.  I wish I could tell him that, as well how thankful I am for saving me from corporate hell (and a thousand other things).\n\nDownloading has weened the \”lightweight\” music fans out of record stores.  You know, people that just want singles, the ones who \”like the song but don’t know who sings it\”… that sort of music fan.  Don’t get me wrong, we don’t have anything against music lightweights (every good party needs lightweights), in fact we understand.  The labels have falsely inflated album sales for years by not giving them the option to just buy the song, so the new digital world is perfect for them.  If they get turned on and want the album (or they don’t want to download for whatever reason), we’re here to help them, but the majority of the people we serve these days are serious music fans.  Junkies like us.\n\nMost of my fellow record store geeks feel that at this point the economy is tougher to deal with than the industry and technology.  We feel that way too.  Ask almost any other type of shopkeeper, and they’ll tell you how much of a battle it is these days.  The only good side of the sad economy is that the guys in the Ivory Towers (Label bean counters, errr, Presidents) have finally started dropping prices.\n\nI still love music more than any non-human thing on this Earth.  It is my passion. It is a part of my soul and my spirituality. I feel that spreading music to my fellow Earthlings is a very important job, because without it this would be a pretty sad place to live.  I couldn’t sell you cars, or homes, or clothes… because although those things are important, I’m not passionate about them.  But I can sell you music, because I believe in music.  I spread it around when I was younger, so Hoodlums is just a \”business continuation\” of what I was already doing.\n\nI’ll stop there, although I could give you impressions all day (buy me a drink after the birthday party and I’ll answer whatever questions you’ve got).  Thanks again to everyone for your support.\n\nRandom Hood Facts: \n\nSteve/Favorite In-store: Michael Franti and Spearhead (although I was radically hung over from the Bowie show the night before… I loved the album, my 6-year old son was in the front row, and Michael was a free-spirited champ.)\n\nKristian/Favorite in-store: Ben Kweller (playing piano in the store with Jason Schwartzmann of Phantom Planet, making up songs and goofing around)\n\nAndy’s Favorite in-store: Greg Graffin of Bad Religion (hanging with Professor Graffin was super-cool, especially for the store’s biggest BR fan).\n\nMost people in an autograph line at an in-store: Weezer (650 preorders was all we could do in their allotted time)\n\nBiggest single-day sales on a record: Format – Dog Problems (500 copies, all we had, during a street-date in-store performance).\n\nBiggest single sales day: Record Store Day 2011.\n\n \n\n \n\n 

Which guitar solo would you choose?

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Which guitar solo would you choose to announce your call?\n\nGood question, medicine sick eh?\n\nThe reason I pose it is due to two factors: 1) My pal Munzy Cat alerted me to the fantastic video (labeled \”The Greatest Guitar Solo Ever\”) I’ve attached, site in which Prince just absolutely goes off on \”While My Guitar Gently Weeps\” (along with awesome vocals by Tom Petty and ELO’s Jeff Lynne); and 2) My new iPhone, combined with Garageband, allows me to use any song in my database to create ringtones for my buddies.\n\nSo I’m going with the idea of using guitar solos for ringtones, at least for my more rockin‘ friends (hmm, the rockin’ list seems to be heavily composed of guys, which raises another series of questions regarding gender and guitar solos, but I won’t digress, for once). Seriously though, why listen to frogs, horns, and bells when you can do some wankin’?\n\nSo what would you want your guitar solo to be?\n\nI’m not talking about the Greatest Ever. I could never put one at the top. The Prince solo on this video is really fantastic (check out the Hendrix-like way he connects with his guitar), but like some of the comments say, \”Greatest ever?\”. It’s too bold of statement to even make. Hell, I’m not sure I could even decide between the Allman Brothers solos, let alone the rest of the rock and roll (or jazz) landscape.\n\nI’m talking about one that you love.  A solo that lifts your soul… moves your butt… causes you to make rock star faces. If you’re like me, then you know what I mean. I can air-guitar hundreds of solos note for note (as I’ve mentioned previously, I’m a one-man air band).\n\nFor now, I went with Jeff \”Skunk\” Baxter off of Steely Dan’s \”Night by Night\” as my general ringtone (one thing you can count on in almost every Steely Dan song is a guitar solo, one reason they are my all-time fave).  My son and I agreed to use to part of Rik Emmett’s first solo off of Triumph’s \”Fight the Good Fight\” for his ringtone.  Cliche as it may be (because it applies to the contact), I went with the mighty Jimmy Page on the double-necked finale of \”Stairway to Heaven\” for one of the pals with whom I most connect (sorry Bieber, I couldn’t find any solos by Selena Gomez’s guitarist, er, computer).\n\nThe point is: I want the solo to represent the caller. It might take me a while, but it’s a task I relish.\n\nFortunately, I’ve got a ways to go to finish off the contact list. Of course, I don’t have nearly as many friends as I have solos to consider (although many of the solos are like friends to me), so I’ll need to jam my way through a few more decisions.\n\nLuckily, it’s my day off (although it seems a lot like what I do every day, thank God) so I can stay on it.\n\nSo now that you’ve had time to think… which solo would you choose for yourself?  We’d love to see your response on Facebook or Twitter.\n

(Except for you, Disney Boy, you have to call so I can jam some Zep).




Why I Own A Record Store: Collection and Control

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Just because I own a record store in 2011 doesn’t mean I walk the dog while listening to a Sony Walkman. I’m far from a technological luddite.\n\n\n\nIn fact, sales ampoule with my recent acquisition of my new iPhone, doctor you could say I am officially Apple’s cyberslave. I started with the initial 40 gig iPod, which was eventually replaced by my current 160 gig iPod classic (which I actually use to walk the dog). Then last year, I finally switched from PC to Mac (which allowed me to customize my rambling videos). Now the iPhone. As Kevin Bacon would say, \”Thank you sir, may I have another!\”\n\nIt goes beyond Apple. I’ve got a Sony 3D Blu-ray player that streams youtube, Pandora, Slacker (which I like better), and about eight zillion movies. The digital cable has umpteen music channels.\n\nIt’s awesome. Entertainment everywhere. It makes a guy wonder about the need for record stores, that’s for sure.\n\nSo why do I own one?\n\nObviously, it’s a question I’ve asked myself (and fielded from many of you) countless times over the past thirteen years, and continue to ask myself to this day. I know that I can listen to music from morning until night, and hear tons of great shit, without paying a cent outside of my phone and cable bills, which I already have to pay. So why not just go with the electronic flow?\n\n\n\nThe answer: I still personally like to own and have control of my music. Collecting CDs (and to a smaller extent, LPs) is my ultimate hobby.\n\nOur old partner, Lloyd, sent me a Spotify invite last month. So I logged on and created an account.  I dialed up Paul Pena’s \”New Train\” as my first search, to see what sort of depth they had (it was the very first album we ever played at this store). While they didn’t have \”New Train\”, they did have an album I’ve never seen, his self-titled album. New Pena tracks? Cool.\n\nI started to listen to the album, and of course, it was tasty. But rather than rejoice at my new digital find, I immediately dialed up my distributor to see if it was available (it wasn’t… and I couldn’t even find evidence of it’s existence on Amazon or Ebay).\n\n\n\nBecause I want to OWN it. I want it to be mine. I want to know it’s in my collection, and that it isn’t going to disappear at the whim of some company or at the surge of some electrical current. I want to be able to make a ringtone out of it, or use it in a video. I want total control.\n\nYes, I want to have it on my computer, in my phone, and on my iPod… but unless I’ve got that original digital file (otherwise known as the CD) back there on the wall, in my collection, I don’t really feel like I really own it. Plus, I want to be able to listen to it in high quality at my house, at the store, and in my car.\n\nYou see, I’m not a \”casual\” music fan, like for instance, my lovely wife. Music has always been enormously important to me, and I take my collection very seriously. I generally listen to albums (in fact, I never just drag a song into one of my devices). I don’t (and have never) buy singles (unless it’s a rare song and that’s the only way to get it). I rarely rip a CD and then trade it. If I do, I feel like I made a decision to relegate whatever the album is to a lower status… an almost not-worthy status.\n\n\n\nI’m not saying that I’m personally down on casual fans. My wife loves her music very much. Nothing is more important than the amazing spiritual vibe music provides almost all of us, so to each their own. I’m just saying that’s not my way.\n\nSo while I’ve got the files to John Hammond’s \”Southern Fried\”, and I can listen to Lee Michael’s self-titled album on Spotify, but until I  get the CD or LP, those two albums are not really mine.\n\nIn a nutshell, I’m a guy that needs a record store.\n\nLuckily, I still own one.\n\n \n\n \n\n \n\n \n\n \n\n \n\n \n\n \n\n \n\n \n\n \n\n \n\n \n\n \n\n \n\n 

Music 101: Major Label Stupidity

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Nearly every mainstream media article we’ve ever read has attributed the past decade’s loss of over a thousand indie record stores to the rise in digital music. In our opinion, capsule cialis short-sighted, corporate-favoring, customer-be-damned decisions by the the major labels have been a far bigger factor in the demise.\n\nSome things never change… and the poor major label decision-making continues with the new Kanye/Jay-Z release (in this case, exclusivity windows for corporate joints).  As the video says, it’s not like we think things are going to change now… but we got a package in the mail this week that was just too stupid not to mock.  I threw on the glasses and made it \”Music 101\” because I’m a goof.\n\n\n\nTo those of you that have only shopped at our current location, and haven’t heard us speak out on industry issues, a small explanation:\n\nWe used to speak out all the time about crazy industry decisions and policies (some examples are still linked on our press page) .  While our complaints and observations, and those of our fellow outspoken indie friends, often garnered attention and perhaps even slowed down the complete corporate takeover of our industry, they really didn’t stop any of the practices we opposed (inflated list prices, exclusive releases, multiple versions, suing customers, not monetizing file-trading, etc.)\n\nAt the time, we were a member of the Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS), so we were more involved in the industry.  When our ASU store closed, we were no longer in CIMS, so when reopened as a \”coalition-less\” indie, we were sort of \”not in the industry\”.  That was totally fine, because as I said, the industry hadn’t shown any signs of sanity, and we had thrown our hands up in terms of trying to change things.  We figured we’d just do our thing and take care of the customers in the store.\n\nThree years later, we’re back in the Coalition (see the blog for more info).  That puts us back in the industry.  As our industry \”reps\”, our leaders at CIMS made us aware of the Kanye/Jay-Z hilarity, or I’m not sure we’d have even known, to be honest.  Of course, we instantly said we were in agreement with the indie-store letter to the label and artists… but we didn’t have any plans to speak out directly.\n\nThen we got that silly banner in the mail… and I couldn’t contain myself.\n\nHave a great day.\n\nSteve, Kristian, and the hoodlums at Hoodlums\n\nMusic: \”Move on Up\” by Curtis Mayfield.  Available at Hoodlums.

Why I Own a Record Store – Customer Friends

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

One of the things that I love most about owning a neighborhood record store is making friends out of customers.  Here’s how it’s done:\n\nYou start helping a guy or girl by asking questions, viagra sale stuff and you find out some info about them.  You throw out some info of your own (usually more rambling than is necessary in my case), and they find out a bit about you.\n\nUsually it’s music-based info, but you can find out a lot about a person by talking music.  Hell, ever since I was a wee pup, one of the first things I did when I got to know someone was take a look at their record collection (or their CD collection, although I must note that I’ve never taken a look at someone’s hard drive… but that’s another blog).  After all these years of record store geekdom, I’m like Sherlock Holmes in terms of tying personality traits to musical tastes.\n\nAnyway, if a person likes your service, and your conversation, or whatever, they come again.  And again.  And you bullshit some more with each visit.  You discuss the last purchases and play some music.  Maybe the guy burns you something to listen to… or you bring something in from your house… and maybe you talk a little politics or sports.. and the next thing you know, a bond is built.  A person that was originally just some dude (or dudette) that walked in to check out the store with the MUSIC sign has become your friend.\n\nSince I write once in a while, and make videos more than I probably should, I sometimes think in terms of \”you should write about this\” or \”you should do a video about that\”.  When our old customer-turned-friend Ben Erlandson graduated (see pic, congrats Ben) and headed for Northern Cal last year after shopping at our store for almost the duration of our existence, I decided to write a blog about how Ben had grown into a friend.  How much he had gotten to know all of the main hoodlums, how we had a nickname for him (based on biking accidents), how much fun we had interacting with him online, and how much we were going to miss him… most of all how that missing went beyond the loss of a great customer.\n\nA Tribute To One of Our All-time Champion Customer-Friends\n\nSo here I am with that my \”customer-friend\” blog, but it isn’t about Ben.  Sorry pal, but there’s a good reason for it:\n\nA few months before Ben left, I had already put another \”I should do this customer video\” thought in progress.  I had the ol’ video camera in the store so I could record Record Store Geek: The Reason It’s Always Me in the Videos, and one our great customer-friends, Craig Pinson, happened to be in the store shopping (and bullshitting about music). In addition to helping spice up the RSG video with his fantastic and supportive laughter, he allowed me to turn the camera on him to make a testimonial about our special order service at Hoodlums. I told him I was going to edit it and put it up on the website next to our special order info.  He loved it.\n\nOf course, I didn’t get on it right away… meaning as I begin to write this it still isn’t on the website.\n\nCraig kept coming, and the friendship continued to grow.  Not only with me, but with Kristian and Andy as well.  Every once in a while, I’d say \”Eventually I’m going to get that special order video up\”, and he’d say \”no biggie\” or something to that extent.  It wasn’t like it was a big deal, and in our relationship the most important thing was the music.  This is the Savoy Brown you should try next.  When is that deluxe version of Derek and the Dominoes coming out?  The new Drive-By Truckers is excellent, as is the Jason Isbell.\n\nWhen the extra Elton John/Leon Russell tickets showed up on the day of the show, we knew who to call.  And Craig (and his wife Mary) were ready.  We were able to hook them up, and we all went to the whatever-it’s-called Arena to verify that Elton can still jam (he can).\n\nCraig ordered the Vanilla Fudge box set through Hoodlums, even though it was a Rhino Handmade product (just like the Delaney and Bonnie in the video), and when we called to tell him it was in, he apologized and said he was laid up and that it might be a while.  We assured him it was no big deal and we told him we hoped he would get feeling better.  It took about a month, maybe longer, but eventually he came in and grabbed his stuff.\n\nHe said he was feeling better.  We talked for a long time.  About his purchases.  About the music.  And Craig did what he always would do… he’d finish up the discussion, and he’d say he had to go, and then somehow, someway, the thought of music would take over… and Craig would stop… and fire up the discussion again.  I’d give him shit about it (no, not you, Steve) and we’d laugh.  Eventually he would leave, awesome music in hand.\n\nThen in early May, I received a call from Kristian.  Craig’s wife had called to tell us that Craig had passed away during the night.  She explained to Kristian that Hoodlums had played such a big part in Craig’s life, had provided him with so much enjoyment, that she felt we needed to be told.\n\nShe knew that we were friends.  Through Hoodlums… but mostly, through the music.\n\nKristian and I were both able to attend Craig’s funeral.  During the service, Craig’s love of music was mentioned prominently, along with his awesome kindness, his loving manner, and his terrific laugh.  On the way home, we talked about how lucky we were that this was the first funeral we’ve had to attend during our 13 years of building relationships with customers, and how much we were going to miss our friend Craig.\n\nI knew the video was at home in my Mac.  I knew I had to at least finish it and post it.  In honor of our friend, Craig.  I checked with Mary, and she said it was O.K.\n

So here’s to ya Craig.  I added Derek and the Dominoes for the music, and I listened to it while writing this.  Lord knows I’ll think about ya every time it plays.


Why I Own A Record Store: First-Listen Jealousy

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

Michael has been shopping at our new location since we opened two years ago.  He and his brother Matthew often times come in together. It took me a while to get his name down; I had to write down an entry in my \”customer remembering\” notes area (the entry: \”Michael and Matthew – Brothers\”), treat remedy but he comes in with enough regularity that it didn’t take too long.  He’s a young guy, for sure a child of the digital age, so he doesn’t have to be in here.  He’s been trained not to pay for music by all the hilarious marketing and pricing decisions of the corporate geniuses that now run the record labels (don’t get me started).  He undoubtedly knows nine ways to acquire music files for free.\n\n\n\nBut the guy is a music fan.  He’s a collector.  Like me.  Like Kristian. Like many of you. He studies, appreciates, and searches out new music. Not just new music like \”this week’s new releases\”, but things he hasn’t heard.  From whatever era… whatever genre.\n\nAnyway, today Michael was in and I noticed that he had Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book CD in his hand.  I said something about it being a great choice, and he said, \”Actually, I was also looking for Songs in the Key of Life.\” \n\n \n\nI knew it was hit or miss.  While I love the Songs album enough to have written a separate blog about it (I’m Not a Conductor, But I Play One on the Treadmill), it’s still a $21.99 double CD, and although millions of people know what I mean when I say the album is a true classic, when it comes people buying it for that price, they usually say, \”That Greatest Hits CD for $14.99 will just do fine.\”  So we make it a special order title. It hurts, but that’s the sort of practical decision making you have to make to survive twelve years in a digital universe. Plus, we usually have it around on vinyl, and a lot of people grab it that way.\n\nSure enough, I was right.  The CD had sales, but mainly on special orders. It was not in stock. Now, Michael has ordered plenty of things from us, so I told him we could get it by Tuesday. However, he winced at the price. I told him we could put in a used special order.\n\nThen he held up \”Talking Book\” and said, \”You’re not going to believe this, but I just heard him for the first time yesterday.\” \n\n\”Wow, really?\”\n\n\”Yeah.\”\n\n\n\nHe went on to say that he had heard Innervisions and completely loved it, and Andy jumped in to ramble poetic about Talking Book.  We talked about how powerful Stevie was, and customer Rick (the Zonal Wonderboy) said he had seen Stevie with the Stones on Exile on Mainstreet tour (PS.  Do not fail to buy the DVD reissue of Ladies and Gentlemen… the Rolling Stones, it rages).  Then I rambled back to the Tom Moon story (during our \”1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die\” interview) about how Stevie was fed the lyrics via headphones about ten seconds before he was going to sing them.\n\nThen Andy said, \”Will an LP work?\”  Michael said yes, and Andy went to look.  Not one stinkin’ copy on the floor.  \”Check backstock\”, I said. Andy went back and returned with a \”bargain basement\” copy from the backroom.  He said it was hidden.  The price: $1.\n\nWow.  One dollar for an absolute piece of art!  Just a tiny little bit of daily revenue, but I was literally excited for him to get it.  He’s a real fan like me, and I knew it was going to move him (hell, I’m listening to Talking Book right now for inspiration, and it’s moving me again). I rambled on about the amazing history lesson that is \”Black Man\”, and the collaboration with George Benson and Bobbie Humphries on \”Another Star\”, and how \”As\” was worth twenty bucks all by itself.\n\nAnd then I thought the thought that I think all the time: Wow, I wish I could hear that album for the first time again.\n\nI thought it when I sent Tom the James Gang Rides Again.  I thought it when Paul bought four titles from the Blues for Rockers blog.  I think about it almost every time I know I am putting a classic piece of music in the hands of anyone, old or young, man or woman, that is going to be hearing it for the very first time.\n\nI labeled it as \”first-listen jealousy\” in the title, but that’s only to a tiny little extent.  Mainly, turning people on to something that can potentially resonate positively with them throughout the remainder of their life is a pretty good feeling.\n\nBecause great music is good for your soul.  An investment in your soul.  And I may not have written the music (and by \”may\”, I mean not a chance), but I can sure as hell help spread it around.  And even though I do it because I believe in music, even though I did it for free in high school and college, and even though I’m sure I’ll spread it around long after there ain’t no more record stores… for now, if I can spread it around and make a living for my family, then I’ll keep owning a record store.\n\nHave a good time Michael.  That was a buck well spent.\n\n\n\nPost Record Store Geek Note: I couldn’t help but listen to \”As\” during the editing process (yeah, I do occasionally cut some rambling).  It’s like an instant burst of pure goodness.  In the middle, there’s the beautiful choruses of humming by the back-up singers, and then Stevie bursts in with the rough Stevie voice, and then the smooth Stevie voice.  I’m telling you this, I don’t know what God is, but at that point… when Stevie assures you that in spite of your troubles \”God knew exactly where he wanted you to be placed\”, it sure feels like something pretty powerful had to make that guy. One way or the other, that’s my kinda preacher.