We’ll be opening a little early on Friday and Saturday, and hosting an old Hymie’s tradition: the “Roll the Dice” sale!
For years we have presented Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” for Thanksgiving. We have also expressed our personal thanks to each and every one of you who helps keep this record shop alive. You’ve not only bought new releases and old favorites here at Hymie’s, but you’ve told your friends about us. Thanks!
“Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” (in two parts)
In spite of our many similarities, record collectors don’t seem to connect with comic book collectors. Sometimes it seems like we don’t even speak the same language. It’s a shame, because so many recorrds have fun comic-themed jackets. hinting at all we share in common. We can’t think of a better recipe for a fun Saturday afternoon than a visit to the Nostalgia Zone, the awesome comic book shop just a couple blocks down East Lake Street from your friendly neighborhood record store. We’re not sure who has more fun, ourselves or the kids.
The reason we’ve been pondering the differences is that Record Store Day™, which will be up to its eighth year this coming April, was based on Free Comic Book Day, a fairly brilliant promotional scene which has sadly been eclipsed by its crass, over-commercial cousin.
Record Store Day™ may have been just as sincere at its outset seven years ago, but its become the year’s most burdensome seasonal challenge for small shops like ours. Ironically, few of our regular customers express interest in the now hundreds of special releases with the official Record Store Day™ seal. Many of us who have been collecting, playing and enjoying records all our lives find the entire phenomenon baffling, sometimes alienating. A sought-after record shouldn’t be so because a corporation decided to limit its production, and a new recording by a favorite artist shouldn’t be a challenge to find for fans.
Yes, the official Record Store Day™ releases do sell well on the third April of each year (and for “list prices,” ie prices set by the wholesalers, which we find to be unreasonably inflated). The enormous sales of these releases each year has given us a budget to host a family-friendly block party featuring fifteen or more local bands each year — and we feel blessed for that.
We don’t expect the major labels are ever going to create a record we could give away just to get folks interested in the very idea of listening and collecting, like Free Comic Book Day has done for years (comic book stores do, by the way, pay a small price for the ‘free’ books you can collect that day, so please support them by buying something else!). We do wish they would create quality products one would enjoy adding to their collection. Unfortunately, while the number of official Record Store Day™ releases has ballooned into the hundreds in recent years, few fit this criteria.
Major labels have used the event to move massive quantities of moldy catalog material (2014′s official releases included an Eric Carmen single, for Chrisssake). Unreleased archival material that would have made an appealing release without the ‘limited edition’ bullshit is poorly packaged and over-priced. And the dirty secret of record store day is this: none of these products are returnable.That merits repeating: Record Store Day™ vinyl is a non-returnable product. We’re all stuck with what doesn’t sell.
This event which ostensibly designed to support independent record stores forces us all, the following week, to list hundreds of singles and EPs and janky remixes and reissues online, just to get rid of them. There are RSD™ releases from four years ago still kicking around our shop, tagged at and sometimes below the wholesale price we paid.
But here’s what we love about Record Store Day™: the local music media really gets behind us. Radio K did so much to help City Pages tagged us the “Best Record Store Day™ Location” this year, and the Star Tribune has always published our local music lineup for the two stages. Our favorite bands get the exposure they deserve for the awesome music they make — this past year we were honored to be the site of Black Diet‘s record release show for Find Your Tambourine, and their stellar set in the drizzling rain was one of the best things that’s ever happened here at Hymie’s.
Each year’s block party has produced these moments of sublime musical magic, from Fat Kid Wednesday’s smoldering set our first year to the time we pushed Whiskey Jeff up on stage with a borrowed guitar to buy time for another band and the crowd loved him as we do. All of this — the stage, the sound, the city’s share just for using the street — is paid for by those special Record Store Day™ releases.
What makes Record Store Day™‘s extension into “black Friday” so distasteful to us is that it seems to have nothing to do with record stores and everything to do with large labels moving quantities of catalog crap. The unfortunate collector who goes home with this schlocky shit isn’t going resent the corporations that now manage the recordings of, say, the Doors or Jimi Hendrix, nor the Record Store Day™ establishment that’s which has put records before record stores. They’re going to resent shops like this one, struggling to survive and finding the old adage as apt as ever: “With friends like Record Store Day, who needs enemies?”
The day after Thanksgiving should be an extension of the holiday: a day for making epic sandwiches with the fridgeful of leftovers, finding the holiday decorations in the basement (our family writes a letter to our future selves about the holidays each New Years Day when we pack this stuff up, so there’s that to look forward to in the boxes), and catching up with friends who’ve returned from around the country for a few short days. The last thing we’d want to do it drive around town to find some junk which, honestly, is easier to find online twenty-four hours later.
Music is Just a Bunch of Notes by Spider John Koerner and Willie & the Bumblebees is one of our favorite local records of all time.
“Everybody’s Goin’ for the Money”
Its original pressing of 1000 copies was hand-stamped (pre-dating the Replacements’ Stink album by a decade) — many that we’ve seen here at Hymie’s have green marker circling the title. In the case of our own copy it’s a big wild squiggly circle. Some copies had a serial number, like the “White Album,” others have additional doodlings and marks. The photographs you see here are what we were able to find searching online — We had been photographing each unique copy that passes through the record shop, but when the Hymie’s computer suddenly pooped out on us last month we lost the files.
We also found this unfinished or abandoned blog, where somebody had the idea of tracking down all 1000 copies.
My first copy of this album was a CD-R that Dave Ray made for me when I was working at Al’s Breakfast. At the time the album was out of print, and fairly difficult to find. Sadly, that disc didn’t survive one move or another, or the theft of a CD collection from a car or something. It would be something special to have today. Music Is Just a Bunch of Notes is in print again and now comes with DVD of Koerner’s weird 1970 movie, The Secret of Sleep.
The album includes crowd noise from a performance at Macalester College and a couple of absurdist comedy bits by Ted Olson. The remaining tracks were recorded above the Coffeehouse Extempore, as described in Dave Ray’s extensive liner notes. We first posted about the album’s stranger features in our very popular “Weird Stuff” series a couple years ago. Here is one of the tracks with Olson driving his car.
“Waiting for go with Normal Dub”
Hearing Koerner perform “Summer of ’88″ on the new Live At Patrick’s Cabaret disc reminded us (we posted it here earlier this week) reminded us how much we love his songwriting and his totally original performances. People hang onto their Spider John Koerner albums, which is why several of them are so difficult to find — it took years to build up a collection of all of them, as well as all the great records Dave Ray made. We are, of course, very excited about the new Red House Records compilation of Ray’s records. A few customers here have been disappointed it wasn’t released on LP, but we’re just glad to hear all the rarities and live recordings.
In case you need it.
Cold Spring Harbor = The Germs
Streetlife Serenade = The Clash
Piano Man = Buzzcocks
Turnstiles = Fear
The Stranger = Bad Brains (classic)
52nd Street = Dead Kennedys
Glass Houses = Black Flag
The Nylon Curtain = Flipper
An Innocent Man = early Social Distortion
The Bridge = The Ramones
Storm Front = Bad Brains (without H.R.)
River of Dreams = The Adolescents
Fantasies & Delusions = Wire
The 2000 movie High Fidelity still comes up in conversation around here, and for many it seems to be the definitive big screen portrayal of life in a record store. We enjoy the movie and its very nice soundtrack, and we certainly get some smiles from the “Beta Band Effect” from time to time (what’s this?) but its not our favorite movie set in a record store.
Fish Story is a 2009 movie directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura. It begins in a record store five hours before a comet is to destroy the Earth. Two young men are doing what we do here every day, nerding out about records, when a man comes in and asks, incredulous, “Why are you open?”
They ignore him and continue to discuss music, as the clerk introduces his friend to an obscure band called Gekirin. Their final recording, “Fish Story,” pre-dates punk rock, although it sounds suspiciously like “New Rose” by the Damned.
We follow the song backwards through history — witnessing moments of heroism and terror, before finally meeting Gekirin in 1975 and learning how they came to record “Fish Story,” based on a mis-translated poem.
There is a scene in another movie, Almost Famous, when Jason Lee claims that rock and roll will save the world. It’s the kind of hyperbolic statement often associated with pop music’s need to justify itself, not so different from the way we feel about some of our favorite records. “This is important,” we tell ourselves, even though we know well that in the big picture our records are inconsequential at best.
Fish Story is about those dreams, and how one of our records might save the world.
We have a lot of pride in this neighborhood where we live and run our little record store. Many of our customers live as nearby as we do, and are friends and neighbors we see in shops and restaurants along East Lake Street and throughout the Longfellow community. With pride we’ve always done all our shopping right here in this neighborhood.
Many more customers come from all over the Twin Cities, the country and even the world to visit us — we’re quick to offer recommendations if they’re looking for a tasty lunch or another place to shop. Hymie’s is sometimes identified as one of the neighborhood’s jewels, which gives us a nice warm-fuzzy but also reminds us of a responsibility to continue to be involved with the work to build a better community.
We think one of the neighborhood’s real treasure is Patrick’s Cabaret, the non-profit theater just a short jump down East Lake from our shop. Their legacy of providing a platform for performance arts on the fringes can’t be beat here in the Cities, from the work of artists of color and members of the GLBT community, to young and emerging performers. They are open-minded, accepting and great neighbors, and we are glad to call them friends. Our favorite shows at Patrick’s Cabaret are their “Singer/Songwriter” and “Eclectic/Electric” Series, but that’s because we’re always most interested in music of course.
If you haven’t been to a performance at Patrick’s, there is one this weekend which would be an awesome introduction. They’re celebrating the release of their Live At Patrick’s Cabaret compilation, which features local musicians who have participated in those two ongoing series. The show is this Friday, November 21st, at 8pm, and will feature live music by Molly Dean, Love Nocturnal and i like you. The collection is produced by the Cabaret’s music programmer, Chris Mozena, and features live recordings of some of our favorite local artists. Take a look at the amazing tracklisting! (you can click on the picture to make it larger)
“Tippy Toes” by i like you
The album opens with this awesome song by i like you (this band keeps getting better every time we hear them) and ends with a really great recording of “Summer of 88″ by Spider John Koerner, our favorite song on his great Red House Records album Raised by Humans. In between there’s a wide variety, which happily includes a lot of artists we’ve worked with here at Hymie’s. There’s even a song by Jack Klatt from his collaborative 2012 disc Mississippi Roll, a great recording of a song we singled out as a favorite at the time.
“Do You Think About Tomorrow?” by Jack Klatt
Say, that’s twice in as many days ol’ Jack has appeared here — one more and we’re gonna have to ask him to start helping out around the shop. One of this collections best tracks is “St. Michael vs The Devil,” a lengthy story song by Davina & the Vagabonds (the same Davina Sowers who is performing at the Patty and the Buttons show we wrote about yesterday). They’re one of the best blues acts around, but this live recording is the next best thing to seeing them on stage.
“St. Michael vs the Devil” by Davina and the Vagabonds
A friend of ours has long pushed a theory that there are places which become unique crossroads in the universe. They’re the places where you meet remarkable people who become lifelong friends (he first came up with this concept in the kitchen at Al’s Breakfast almost twenty years ago, and has been a friend of ours ever since). They’re also the places where people come up with incredible ideas together, and they provide people with something more than just a sense of community, something almost intangible it’s so fleeting and special. You might not even know where these places are in your life. The story of how Patrick’s Cabaret came to move into a hundred-year-old firehouse hints at how much it has become a magical place for many people.
We’re excited to see they’ve labeled this disc “Vol.1″ because it hints that more will follow. We’ve always been drawn to live albums and wish more would come out of the current Twin Cities scene. As it is, Live at Patrick’s Cabaret is a really unique cross-section of the things you can hear just by looking around town a little, and also a tribute to one of the most original and amazing places in town.
The release show for Live at Patrick’s Cabaret is this Friday, November 21st. You’ll find more details on their events calendar here.