Our five year old daughter loves this record — not only the story, but the song at the beginning. She sings along with it every time she plays 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on her Fisher Price record player.
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Saturday we hosted our fourth block party on 39th Avenue, and it was a success in absolutely every possible way. Thanks to Merlins Rest Pub and Harriet Brewing, beer sales raised thousands of dollars for the Longfellow Business Association, and all kinds of neighborhood groups and artists had an opportunity to connect with people. Fifteen acts performed on two stages, every one of which having performed here at Hymie’s before — it was both a reunion of old friends and a time to make new ones.
Also there were some special limited releases with gold foil numbers and the official “Record Store Day” sticker, blah blah blah. You can call the shop if you’re looking for one of them and we can let you know what’s left (only about a crate’s worth). As much as we’re uncomfortable with the consumerist frenzy of Record Store Day releases, we appreciate that their sale helps us pay for the block party.
It was, for many, a day about driving all around town for a specific special record. Here the focus was on local artists, and we really love the people who performed here today — every one of them. Black Diet was really special to us because they wanted their album release show to be at a record store, on the street and in front of a really enthusiastic crowd. They got all three of those things, plus rain.
They were the only band forced to perform during our annual block party rainstorm, and they did it with grace and contagious enthusiasm. In fact, we don’t think the rain had any effect on the festivities at all, thanks to Jonathan Tolliver and crew.
A unique feature of the block party this year was that we didn’t try to do a discount sale of records — so many records come into the shop, every week, every day, that we’re at a loss to do with them, and htis year we decided to just give them away. So our annual “Free records day” was combined with Record Store Day, and there were crates and crates and boxes and boxes of free records on 39th Avenue. There were also boxes of comic books courtesy of Nostalgia Zone, who are just a couple blocks west from us on Lake Street.
Free records are so popular that what was left could eventually be distilled into a single box. Nobody, out of the hundreds and hundreds of people here on Saturday, would take them — not even for free. Here’s a sample of that final box of rejects. The pictures were taken before we dropped ‘em all in the dumpster.
“I Have A Dream” by Father Jack McGuiness
Thanks to everyone who came out to the block party yesterday — it was a blast!
And thanks to Joseph Pettini for posting this awesome picture to our facebook yesterday.
We’ll have some more pictures here and on the Hymie’s facebook page in the next couple days, but we really really have to get it all back together. The shop is a MESS! we have to return all those awesome tents and things to Northern Sun. And we have to get so much gear back into the hands of the awesome musicians who need it.
Until then, we’ll be closed for Easter Sunday — hopefully to have a little rest, but probably also to clean up the shop. For those of you still looking for special Record Store Day releases, we’ll have an idea what’s still here tomorrow — there’s always a few gems that someone tried to hide in the shop, we have already found a few. Feel free to check in if there’s one you missed.
And thank you — every one of you — who came by yesterday. People kept asking if we were amazed to see the huge crowds on 39th Avenue or in the shop, and yes we were. But what we really love was seeing all the familiar faces — the people who come in on an ordinary Saturday, or any day. We’re so lucky to have so many awesome regular customers, whether it’s once a week or once every other month. Thanks!
See you tomorrow!
“Peter Cottontail” by Gene Autry
Once again Noiseland Industries will have a Twin Cities exclusive for Record Store Day available in all your favorite shops, including Hymie’s. You may recall the American Buffalo compilations of the past couple years (you may even have one in your collection) — this year’s special record is a 7″ single of two songs from Lizzo‘s upcoming album on Virgin Records.
Noiseland provides top quality vinyl pressing and cd production not only to performers here in the local scene, but all over the country. Last year’s Record Store Day release of Willie Nelson’s early demos for the Ray Price publishing company (Crazy) was a Noiseland product, for instance, as are several of this year’s special releases, including the Dolly Parton single.
What we have always liked about Noiseland is the imprint they’ve had on the Twin Cities scene — if you’ve been following local music as enthusiastically as we have, there’s at least a couple Noiseland lp’s or cd’s on your shelves. Several of the performers on our RSD block party bill made their albums there. It’s one of those awesome resources we have that other citys don’t.
As with the past couple years we’ll be offering their special release (two new Lizzo songs!) with any purchase of a new local LP, no matter what it is. My we recommend, for instance, the Erik Koskinen album we’re listening to right now or Martin Devaney’s House of Rust (and guess where they was made!) or Black Diet‘s debut disc, the release of which we will be celebrating on Saturday. We’ll have about fifty copies of the Lizzo single for you, possibly more, and they’ll be first come/first serve.
Twenty-five years ago today an oil tanker ran aground in the Prince William Sound, spilling a half-million or more gallons of oil into the sea. At the time it was the greatest natural disaster our nation had caused for itself (passed in 2010 by the Deepwater Horizon disaster). The shockingly slow industry response became a (forgive the term) watershed moment, galvanizing not only environmental/conservation movements but also the courage of class action suits against corporations.
Legal battles over the Exxon Valdez spill are still ongoing today. A 2008 documentary, Black Wave: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez, explores the environmental and human costs of the disaster. You can watch the film here online, but you will probably have a hard time getting to the end without a broken heart.
“The Oil Song” by Steven Forbert
This morning we read about the anniversary in our Sunday paper about the herring, the whales and the otters on the anniversary, but the article mentioned nothing of the people who lived in Cordova, Alaska.
Here’s a peculiar record we’ve always loved, surely an example of something that is rare but not valuable, at least in the money sense — it’s a test pressing of songs by Pop Wagner, the Twin Cities’ awesome-est cowboy fiddler. He wrote the song “Good Friday” after performing in Cordova, Alaska just before the disaster. Dakota Dave Hull explains it in the notes to the album he and Pop made together (Airship) here:
He stayed with friends who were getting ready for the herring run which was on its way north. Their plan was to harvest herring roe for the lucrative market in Japan where it is used for “happy food” or, as we westerners would say, hors d’oeuvres. On Good Friday, Pop deplaned in Juneau where he saw the headlines and the photo of the Exxon Valdez run aground on Bligh Reef. He wrote this song a few weeks later.
Pop’s song was one of the only we’ve ever heard that acknowledged the enormous human cost of the disaster (not to dismiss the suffering of the sea creatures we more often see in oily images). If you’re able to make it through the wrenching documentary about Cordova, you’ll understand our surprise and sadness on this anniversary.
“Good Friday” by Pop Wagner
We offered this record to Pop Wagner last time he was here in the shop, and he demurred with characteristic modesty. We’re not sure this six-track 12″ was ever made into an official release (we’ve never found one). He recorded “Good Friday” with Dakota Dave Hull, and some of the other songs at other times.
It seems like this is a really good time to point out that if you’d like to see Pop Wagner perform, he’s part of the awesome celebration of Pete Seeger’s 95th birthday organized by Larry Long, who brought a flyer into the shop this week. It’s at the Fitzgerald Theater on May 3rd (it’s on their calendar here).
Maybe it’s also something to consider next time you start your car, or next time you buy some plastic bullshit at Target just to replace something fixable that you didn’t need in the first place. And maybe this is too much for a blog about records, too preachy. It’s not like we’ve got a choice about where we have to go with those cars — We’ll go where the work is. We’re all stuck in an oil/plastic nightmare but at the very least we’re in better shape than the people who depended on the Prince William Sound were on this day twenty-five years ago.
“Cassarole me Over” by Yvonne Eliman is, in the opinion of this record store, second only to “I Love Tortillas” as the best food song ever.
We learned about Josef Albers from a very nice couple that came into the record shop this month — they were looking for albums for which he had created art, and described him to us as a principle 20th century ‘color theorist.’
Josef Albers was born in 1888 and lived the first half of his life in Germany — he was one of many artists and intellectuals who fled their country when the Nazi Party took power. Through an American contact he found a job in North Carolina, teaching at Black Mountain College, where he stayed until 1949. The following year Albers took a position at Yale University’s graphic arts program which he kept until his retirement nine years later.
As an artists Albers’ work is best represented by his Homage to the Square, a series of oil paintings on masonite that he began in 1949. For record collectors he is most distinguished by his cover art for Enoch Light’s Command Records a decade after he began his famous series of paintings.
The records celebrated the then-novel idea of stereo, as well as amusing pre-exotica rhythmic experiments. The first two Provocative Percussion albums were performed by an orchestra directed by Terry Snyder. Albers’ art was enormously influential on record cover design for many years in the early 60s.
“You’re the Tops”
“Somebody Loves Me”
Although it was just a couple years ago that he passed away, Joe South stopped making records after Midnight Rainbows was released in 1975. Before that release he had been silent for a couple years following the death of his brother Tommy.
“I flipped out. I just went completely into the ether after my brother’s death,” he explains to Jeff Walker, who wrote the liner notes to Midnight Rainbows. “I just had to get away so I went to the Islands, caught Polynesian paralysis and just lived in the jungles of Maui for a couple of years.”
We re-ran our tribute to Joe after he passed away, but didn’t update it to include this relatively uncommon album. In many ways it is a continuation of the songs that made South famous, like “Walk a Mile in my Shoes” and “Games People Play.”
Johnny Horton, in an undated appearance on the Jimmy Dean Show. According to the promotional record below the song was inspired by Freedomland, USA.
What is Freedomland, USA? And when can we go there?! It’s been ages since the last Hymie’s Records field trip.
Freedomland, USA was “The World’s Largest Outdoor Family Entertainment Center,” created by Cornelius Vanderbilt Wood in a corner of the Bronx on the site of a former landfill. True to the record it was over two hundred acres and shaped like this great nation, but the actual amusement park portion was only about eighty-five acres.
The park was divided into ‘themed regions,’ such as New Orleans, the Great Plains, Chicago 1871, and — our favorite — Satellite City. In Satellite City visitors could tour the future, which included a moving sidewalk, a simulated rocket, and futuristic cars.
Also in Satellite City was the Moon Bowl, built in 1961. The impressive list of performers in the Moon Bowl include the Everly Brothers, Count Basie and Benny Goodman and their Orchestras, and the stars of Car 54, Where Are You?
Sadly, we cannot visit Freedomland, USA. The park filed for bankruptcy in 1964, closing the following year. Its massive parking lot was quickly developed into housing, and today the park itself is the site of the Bay Plaza Shopping Center, which includes an Applebee’s, a Marshall’s, a Toys-R-Us and (we don’t have these here in Minnesota) a Daffy’s.