Monday, May 28, 2018

more barbershop

Well it sure has been a slow May.  I got down to Texas but missed opportunities to check out a record store in downtown Dallas and more.  I did stop into a thrift store in Plano Texas but they had no vinyl.  I made it back to Buffalo NY as well as the Detroit area but I've covered those areas before.  However I do have some interesting 'mailbag' topics that relate once again to my extensive documentation of barbershop vinyl.

As a kid I had a couple Shel Silverstein books and more recently I've watched my girlfriend's daughter discover his work.  This message was a real thrill to get.  I knew the album referenced right away and knew I did not have it but excitedly wrote back regarding the Four Renegades album where the arrangement was born, as well as the Vagabonds album where I first noticed this song.  Alas, I was told that they already had those albums in the archive.  Especially painful since I have not one but two spares copies of the Four Renegades record.  So I am keeping a keen eye on ebay hoping to find this one so that I might donate it.

I got this message quite a while ago as you can see here but never mentioned it.  The only thing better perhaps than an autographed copy is knowing you made this kind of contribution and got to chat (albeit electronically) with someone who knew the quartet closely.

Sunday, April 29, 2018


In nearly 5 years of writing this blog I have visited many, many thrift stores and record stores looking at vinyl.  Unfortunately I've seen many great shops close for various reasons.  Time to give respect to some legends and remember their awesome tenure selling vinyl.  There are many more honorable mentions but here are the biggest in my experience and memories.

Marklund Resale

Can't count how many times I've visited Marklund over the years.  Looks like the last time I blogged about a visit was back in 2015 (wow, time flies) but I'm sure I was there at least a handful of times since then.  Unfortunately they shut the doors back in the summer of 2016.  Great shop that supported a good cause.  The funny thing is that now after reviewing all these old posts, it doesn't look like I ever bought anything there! Still, it was a nice relaxing Sunday jaunt for a long time.  They will be missed. (note: my girlfriend did once buy some cutting boards there (they were new).  One of them cracked and fell apart after a year or so, the other one is still doing well and just last night I coated it with mineral oil).

Knick Knack Paddy Wack

I checked out this store a few times in the early days.  Really cool shop run by a couple that were always swell to chill with and have a chat.  They even used to call me when they would get new vinyl in.  They expanded even at one point and scooped up the shop next to them but then a year or so later they were gone from both.  I found this video above on the website of a local news station and have uploaded it here.

Savers, Franklin Park

It was really cool having a legit thrift store with vinyl (sort of) in my neighborhood.  Stopped by many times and grabbed an array of nice vinyl.  They shut down last year and the site is now a Salvation Army.  They will definitely be missed.

Fantastic Andy's

I always had an awesome time in Andy's, grabbed vinyl and just had such a nice relaxing shopping trip every time I stopped in.  My time there is filled with nothing but good memories of riding my bike around Kewanee, pounding beers and BBQing and looking at dusty vinyl in a dusty old shop.  I consider it an honor that I got to prowl around in the place after it was long closed, thanks to some local vandals that shattered one of the windows.

Affordable Thrift

Only paid a single visit to this place, the only time I've looked at vinyl in a pawn shop.  You even had to get buzzed in.  This was right down the street from my place of work, and I clearly remember the day I stopped in on my bike ride from work to my girlfriend's house and grabbed a Jeff Beck classic.  I took this photo just yesterday while eating at the deli across the street.  Nothing sadder than seeing a place full of colorful signs and later just boarded up with white paper.  What a shame.

Blast From The Past

Had a legitimately odd visit to this place back in 2014.  For some reason I did not take a photo of the place then, the one above was taken yesterday 2 minutes after the photo of Affordable Thrift (they are literally one block apart).  It used to say 'Blast From the Past' on the upper portion of that wall, and I don't know if it was painted black either.  There was a real estate sign out front, I think it's been there a while and probably will continue to be for some time.  Funny because even during our visit the proprietor probably would have taken an offer for all the goods in the store, and maybe the building itself.

Kstarke Records

I visited this place twice, both times around my birthday, in 2014 and 2015.  It was during my first visit that I had my order rung by Mr. Starke himself.  He gave me a vinyl for free because I was a 'new customer', and I still enjoy that album regularly (just put it on yesterday).  I should have gotten back into there more but I'm glad I visited what I think many people consider to be a Chicago vinyl landmark.

Bel-Aire Enterprises

I saved this one for last because it is the most special.  I first visited almost exactly two years ago after wanting to check it out for a while.  It was a really special experience.  I grabbed a bunch of stuff and couldn't wait to get back.  I did get back at least once (maybe twice?) but never blogged about it.  I got the bad news around the end of last year from Beverly Records who snatched up a bunch of their inventory for probably pennies on the dollar.  I was in the area a couple months ago and figured I'd cruise by.  The parking lot was so filled with snow that I could barely get it and out.  The store was papered up and the sign...well, you can see it's sad refrain above.  It has been the wallpaper on my phone's lock screen since I took it and will remain there for a while.  I am very, very fortunate that I got in there to check the place out because now all we have are the memories.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Salvation Army, Clearing

I generally will not go out of my way to hit an SA anymore, they are always sad barren places devoid of any good vinyl, and often it seems, don't carry any vinyl at all.

As part of an especially relaxing morning, I got my work done in Marquette Park (where coincidentally I also hit an SA, long ago) in record time.  I saw this place as I approached the intersection and figured what the hell.

The vinyl was junk, save for one semi-interesting (though beat) jazz platter.  I figured I'd glance through the CDs quickly before I left.  I should divulge a short tale regarding CDs.  I have 100s at home in CD books.  Recently at work, we were trying to find information on some storage boxes we bought long ago because we wanted more.  After much internet sleuthery, we found the cases and saw that they must have been purchased at Office Depot.  So my boss ran over to grab another one and he grabbed an extra one for my truck upon my request.  Because as it turns out, these were actually CD/DVD cases (not at all what we were using them for).  So I made a pact with myself to fill that case with some classic albums and then stop there. 

So I've scooped up some interesting stuff at thrift stores and online and I'm a little over half full (I think it holds 20 jewel cases).  Well would you believe I found the first Pat Metheny Group CD here? This is now the 5th PMG album in my little case.  I've had this on vinyl and I shouldn't admit it, but I honestly never listened to it in depth.  Well I have listened to it now extensively, again and again, and realize what a classic it is.  So overall, this was a huge score in a dumpy little store that was, as usual, bereft of good vinyl.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

St. Vincent [Billings MT]

As already described, I stepped out of a Billings breakfast and stumbled into a record store.  Just before that, I came across a St. Vincent.  Alas, it was permanently closed but they left a forwarding address.  So I started to walking across Billings to my destination. 

It was a 1/2 mile or so I think and the neighborhood got quieter, less traffic, no pedestrians, I was all alone.  I finally arrived and saw the clear distinction between the floors, evidenced by the crowd that had formed outside (which included the fellow I later saw chilling under the sign with his coffee and rucksack).

Alas, it was nothing doing as they had nothing of any interest, save for a book of sheet music for a Neil Sedaka album I've had for a while.  As alluring as it sounds to try and learn 'Laughter in the Rain', I left it behind for another hunter deep in Montana, as I was on that morning.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Smiling Dog Records [Billings MT]

I am a huge proponent of Google Maps.  I have used it as my GPS in many foreign cities and even outside the US.  I use it constantly to find restaurants and I have written hundreds of reviews and submitted even more photos.  But sometimes, you have to go off the beaten path and put the damn phone away because even Google isn't perfect.

On my last day in Billings I went to a delicious breakfast at Bernie's Diner.  Highly recommended.  Afterwards I went for a walk and what did I find but a beautiful, new record store! I couldn't believe it! How did I miss this already? I checked the map again - it wasn't on there! Well, they were closed but it looked like they were opening in an hour.  So I sat down on a nearby bench and fully planned to sit there for a full hour in the cold to wait for the place to open.

After a spell, a car pulled up and parked, and the driver got out and walked to the front door.  I was sure that it was the owner but I didn't want to run up on him and try to barge in while he was getting situated.  So I just hung out but then I watched the guy turn around, he was locked out like me and also apparently waiting for the spot to open.  I said hello and mentioned that I was also waiting.  He replied that he had come by with a load of old vinyl he wanted to try and sell.  Without missing a beat, I asked if I could have a look.  He said sure, when I asked what he had he said 'some classical and jazz....some Deodato'.  Pretty interesting artist to bring up as a representative of your collection - and I already have a couple albums I've picked up along the way.

He did indeed have a bunch of Deodato, he agreed to the staggering price of $2 for one of them which was in mint condition.  He said that he bought it new, dubbed it to cassette back in the day and probably never put it on again.  Sure looked like that was the case.  (I later realized this was a reissue of one of the albums I already have, which explains why I couldn't place it and understand why I wasn't familiar with it).

I hung around a while longer and eventually the real owner did arrive.  And guess what - he had a dog with him! After giving him some time to open the place up, I strolled in to have a look.

The place was laid out nicely, compact and straightforward.  Fairly large jazz section, and I quickly got involved in that.  Nothing had prices and I was trying to figure out how they handled that aspect.  Didn't find a ton of interesting items but then struck gold.  I've been really enjoying Eric Gale lately, I just bought an old reissue CD of the two albums I already own on LP.  That led me to the supergroup he was a member of in the late 70s.  They put out a few albums but it was the debut that interested me most and here it was! So I grabbed it and continued my hunt.  Soon after my friend with the Deodato albums showed up (I can't believe I forgot his name) and he got involved with the owner trying to peddle his old vinyl.

That's the owner on the left and the guy with a trunk full of funk on the right.

The owner came up to greet me around then and explained that the prices were actually inside the jacket.  A system I had not seen before but one which does make sense as many people (myself included) surely do not want stickers on their jackets. 

That was when I looked inside and saw that he wanted $25 for the album (which is ridiculous), I audibly did a quiet 'wow' and put it back where I found it.

Bottom line is to get up and out there and don't mess with your phone too much.  You never know what you may find, even in Montana!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Big Horn Antiques [Greybull WY]

Coming out west, it was exciting to know that I'd check two states off my map that I might never get the opportunity to again.  Montana was easy - flying into Billings I found a few places and was able to check it off my list within about 20 minutes of my plane touching down.

Wyoming was nowhere near as easy.  What few places I could find in the Cody area I'd be working in were closed on Sundays.  A record store was out of the question, the only ones I could find where in the opposite ends of the state.  Which was also out of the question; I had some free time but that would be hours of driving.  I couldn't believe I was going to spend at least 24 hours in the state and not be able to check out some vinyl, and know that I might never be back again.

I landed in Billings on a Saturday afternoon and did my thing out there until the next morning, when I drove to Cody through the Big Horn mountains.  That was a great experience, even with hours behind the wheel I was plenty entertained.  As I finally came down the other side of the mountains and headed toward Cody it was still killing me knowing that there was just nowhere to go to see any records.  I had scoured Google Maps and the internet in general and it looked like everyone was closed on the 'day of rest'.  Then at the last minute I found an antique store in Greybull which claimed to be open.  It was directly on the way so I checked it out.  The place was called 'Dissanddatt'.  I spent about 20 minutes in here even though I knew almost right away there wasn't a single record to be found, as the obviously lonely proprietor cornered me (in a friendly way, I guess, if there is such a thing) chatting about, well, 'diss and datt'.  I finally got out of there, and he followed me outside to tell me that in Cody there was a place that might have vinyl (Bargain Box Furniture Store).  I'm sure they did but at that point I had no idea how much free time I would have as I still hadn't determined the scope of my work and I was prepared to be stuck in the plant for 12 hours (turned out to be a piece of cake).  So I thanked him and drove on.

But as you can see from the title of this post, I did find a place afterall.  I drove about 3 or 4 blocks and had just taken a bite out of an apple when I drove by Big Horn Antiques.  It was huge, there was an OPEN sign illuminated and a few cars in the parking lot.  I literally slammed on the brakes and ripped my rental car down a side street to turn around and go back.  My fingers were crossed but I had a good feeling.

Well it doesn't get any better than finding some records in the foyer before I even entered the actual store!

This place was crammed with junk and I found more and more vinyl behind every corner and in every room.  Not sure if this place was an antique mall or not, if the goods were on consignment or all owned by the couple that seemed to be the owners.

This happens all the time.  You find a motherlode of vinyl, but it is all crap.
Then you find one legit record and it is damaged in one way or another beyond repair
In a back room I found a huge dump of vinyl, 4 or 5 boxes stuffed tight plus a ton of 45s.  I dug every single box and came up with nothing, but I was glad knowing I was walking out of there with some photos for my records and the ability to check the state off of the map!

State #31 is completed! I don't see how I will ever be out this way again, it was a real gift.  I had a great time in the region, the work ended up being easy and there is a possibility I might somehow return to this site one more time.  We shall see.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Ernie November [Billings MT]

I've been really fortunate to get all up and down the east coast but I've never been west of North Dakota.  As this trip was coming together, I kept waiting for it to fall apart.  Well here I am! I flew to Billings for work in Cody WY.  As soon as I touched down I came straight to Ernie November.  The weather was beautiful when I arrived (it turned overcast shortly after, as you can see above) and it was nearly 50F.  What a perfect day!

When I got inside I was shocked at how small the place was.  Big 'head shop' style area towards the back and at the front counter.  They even had all those Pepsi bottles and Pringles cans you can hide things in.  I haven't seen those in a long time.

The jazz section was just inside the door so I got to work.  I pulled out three vinyls super quick and each was only $6.  I am still thrilled that I found so many things I wanted so quickly!

Larry Carlton - Larry Carlton

I've got a few Larry Carlton LPs and I've been specifically looking for this one for a while due to the opening cut on the album.  I come across Larry's stuff with some regularity but I have struck out on this one for a while.  It is in great shape and I can't wait to get it home.

It's no secret that I grab almost anything CTI-related at this point, and I've scooped up a bunch of Creed's stuff recently.  But I was totally unaware of this sampler and after some quick research turns out there are a few others.  I probably have the original albums 3/4ths of these cuts are from but I don't care, besides the fact that this is in such staggering good condition I can hardly believe it.

I think George is the only artist I now have CTI 3000, 6000 and 7000 releases for.  This album only has 5 tracks between both sides of the disc, so I'm eager to check out some epic jams from Mr. B as soon as possible.  Beautiful gate fold and cover as well.

I searched everywhere for that Jack Jones LP until I got it as a gift for Christmas a while back.  It is the only way to grab the 'Love Boat' theme without the pricey single.
Riding high on my scores, the weather was still beautiful so on a lark I called the nearest bike shop to see if they would rent me a bike.  They said they normally don't but they ended up giving me a brand new $500 Raleigh hybrid for a few hours for $25 and I tore up 11 miles around the city.  What a perfect afternoon and a great way to add state #30 to my list! Wyoming is next!

when I was handed my receipt, the clerk commented that he forgot to give the guy before me his receipt.  so i got both.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Vinyl Giant [Fargo ND]

I've been to Fargo at least five times now, but it was almost four years between visits.  In that time my record collecting got more serious and this blog materialized.  I am typing this now from Hector Airport here in town, a few hours before my flight.  I'm kind of shocked that I even got the chance to return.  Back then, my work related travel was nothing like it is now, I think some of these flights up north were some of the first (for work), period.

I got into town on Friday evening and made time to hit up a local Savers.  I always try to do something like that - I knew I'd have more time but you have to assume you won't.  At least then I got to see something.  But as planned, I had a good chunk of Saturday afternoon free as well.

I got to the job site around 9am.  We were done by 1pm.  The customer asked if I wanted to go get 'a beer' and some lunch and I said sure.  The whole time, records were on my mind.  I did want lunch (and a beer, maybe two) but I was ready to bail out of there and get on my way.

Well these guys were just ordering beers and putting them in front of me so I ended up having more than two.  All these guys were cranking Busch Lights but snob that I am, I was drinking Odells IPA which for some reason came in a 20oz draft by default, and unbeknwonest to me was 7%.  So I had three of those then begged for just a Coors.  Then I abruptly left.

All I could think about now was a nap so I decided to only hit Vinyl Giant (I had half a plan to hit some others as well).  Vinyl Giant was a neat and orderly space with a decent jazz bin.  A couple other people were scoping the scene and doing some digging of their own.  I should add that it is almost easy to miss, there is a sign (as seen above), but it is easily obscured by parked cars.  So I ended up parking on a side street on the other side of 13th and walking over.

The pricing was a bit off and a little on the high side for a few releases.  But ironically the only one that really tickled my fancy was under $10 so that was a no brainer.  Had to lay these two side by side for the contrast.  I don't know how many millions of copies of the one on the left were pressed but that surely drives the price down (not to mention the general dislike for the artist).  But 'the artist' isn't such a bad guy - I should know! This leaves only one additional release in the 3000 series 'alternate cover' list, and I just got two of the four in less than a month in states on the other side of the map! Nice!

I got back to my hotel and slept about 2 hours, then got up and ate some Indian food and took a shower.  I hate day drinking so much and I can't believe I got suckered into it by a bunch of townies.  See you in another five years, Fargo.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Savers [Fargo ND]

This was maybe the most run down Savers I've been to, at least from the outside.  In a shady darkened parking lot, their neighbor had moved out.  Not sure who Savers got this building from, it is huge and the exterior looks like hell.  I've also never seen that slogan 'The Thrift Department Store" before that I remember.

Inside the familliar old record bin was filled with childrens books.  Heartbroken, I went to glance at the Pyrex and they actually had a few pieces.  I did grab one (its been a long time since I saw anything worth buying).  I wandered back towards the front to check out.

And what do I see at the counter? A magazine rack half filled with vinyl.  Maybe only 15 LPs in there but still worth a very brief dig.  That Bright Productions polka record was nice to come across, that is something you'd only find way up north round these parts.  I must have added nearly half of the Bright Productions/Roger Bright releases to discogs myself so it was nice to come across one in the wild.  I left it behind as I don't prefer German polka (I prefer Polish, even though I am German, and not Polish).  Glad I got to swing through a quick stop and check ND off my list!

That makes state #29!