Thursday, December 11, 2014

Down On The Corner

Yeah, I know – my third place was supposed to be neither work, nor home. But – part-time work wasn't specified, so I'm gonna roll with it. If you know me, you probably know that I moonlight on weekends as a Record Store Clerk at LUNA Music. A year-plus ago, I walked in on a Saturday morning (my usual weekly visiting time...due to Amelia often being at work), and they asked me, "Hey dude, would you want to work here?"

(Sunday mornings with the Rev. Al Green – a Tracks tradition I keep alive at LUNA.)

"Uh, yeah. For sure!" was the only response I could think of, despite any other commitments I had. Turns out that I am physically unable to turn down working at a record store. In Muncie, while I was attending Ball State (and playing music), my friend and bandmate started Village Green Records. I took my work-study salary and bought a record a week, hanging out there with friends and bandmates who either lived in the back of the shop, or were always on the porch or coffee-stained living room couches.

(Growing's drone masterwork The Sky's Run Into The Sea, one of the vinyls
I picked up from VGR when building my collection a piece at a time.)

In Bloomington, I had wandered into Tracks, an old shop (the last of a regional chain destroyed by big box stores) with a (killer at the time) jazz selection to randomly ask for a job on the day that someone else left – that turned into nearly year-long job where I learned some of the ins-and-outs of buying and vinyl-sorting and cartridge-replacement and margins and how-to-open-a-CD-really-quickly-and-get-the-damn-sticker-off. In my spare time, I was also volunteering at the Secretly Canadian distribution warehouse, moving around crates of records (thanks for bombing and making me re-stack 100k albums, The Avalanche) & filling orders while listening to entire label discographies...a flood of music that approximates the ease of today's streaming society, except that this was my life, and I had to work for it!

Though the vinyl resurgance hadn't yet really begun, I loved all of it. Not just listening to new releases and getting wrapped up in 2-hour conversations about Neil Young guitar solos – it was the fact that, for most people coming in a record shop, this is a highlight of their day, week, or month. They aren't generally on some mission – they love music, whether it's Neil Diamond, Neil Young, or bands who don't even have a Neil. That energy and passion is infectious, alluring...it makes work not seem like work. (Until you have to vacuum 20-year-old-carpet, or buy-back twice-used porn DVDs from a dude who had just bought 'em a month ago...)

So. Back to LUNA. I visit record stores almost anywhere I go, from Dusty Groove & Reckless in Chicago, Amoeba & Groove Merchant in San Fran, Grimey's in Nashville, Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis, Little Axe & Mississippi in Portland, Sonic Boom in Seattle...and LUNA is something special. I can't be biased, because I'm just the "weekend dude", but we have the friendliest staff, the cleanest, brightest, and most welcoming shop, and an amazingly curated sense of place, from fantastic art contributors to Todd's collection of ephemera and general great taste. I feel fortunate every day to be a part of sharing and spreading a love of music-as-art, of supporting career musicians, hobbyist labels, archival/curator/record-digging folks, independent & local garage bands, and everything in-between.

On December 20th, LUNA celebrates its 20th anniversary – if you haven't been in in awhile, or ever – what are you waiting for?!

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