To some the independent record store is a Mecca of hard-to-find sonic delights; to others it’s an intimidating fortress of hipster elitism. Either way, it holds a unique place in the hearts and minds of discerning music fans. Though the proliferation of online outlets both legitimate (iTunes, Amazon.com) and questionable (P2P sites, Bittorent files, etc.) has been blamed for the decline of the music industry in general, many independent retailers have subsisted by expanding upon the niches they serve in their respective communities. Though Nero plays his fiddle — or perhaps, “Guitar Hero” — while empires such as Virgin Megastore burn, many smaller stores have managed to fend off cyber-fueled extinction.
One such destination is Burlington’s Pure Pop Records. The store is a local landmark, beloved by generations of Vermont audiophiles. This weekend, the iconic basement boutique is joining like-minded indie emporia across the country by participating in National Record Store Day. A made-up holiday of sorts, the event was created to recognize the vital role that stores such as Pure Pop serve. The impending celebration has attracted a fair amount of attention from national media outlets and big-deal artists such as Paul McCartney, who claims, “There’s nothing as glamorous to me as a record store.” Right. Anyone else think Sir McCartney maybe hasn’t set foot in an indie record store in a while? And no, Paul, Starbucks doesn’t count.
This Saturday, Pure Pop offers prodigal music consumers the chance to reconnect with their stacks-digging roots by offering loads of free stuff — CDs, DVDs, posters, disapproving glances for purchasing the latest Jordin Sparks album, etc. There are also whispers of a few special live performances from some choice local acts, though as of press time the lineup was unconfirmed.
But the coup de grace is a used-CD-buy-back promotion. Essentially, shoppers can bring in their old albums and sell them to Pure Pop for up to 50 percent more than the typical buy-back rates. You can then use the cash to sift through the discarded gems from other folks’ collections in what portends to be a feeding frenzy of Filene’s Basement proportions. Hipsters are typically a docile group. But when an original pressing of Daryl Hall’s prog-rock opus Sacred Songs is on the line, all bets are off. If you think I’m kidding, swing by the store this weekend and see for yourself.
A couple of weeks ago, I alluded to an upcoming press conference announcing the lineup for this year’s installment of the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival. In the weeks leading up to the main event, you’ll find loads of info about the fest in these pages, so I won’t divulge too much now. I will, however, offer up a few choice highlights that caught my attention.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the festival and, in honor of this milestone, organizers are pulling out all the stops. The 2008 headliners include legends such as Ornette Coleman and Dave Brubeck as well as up-and-coming acts such as r&b diva Ledisi and Afro-jazz guitar ingénue Lionel Loueke.
The Waterfront Tent will be a-hoppin’ as always with Jamaican reggae legend Eek-A-Mouse, who apparently invented turntable scratching . . . just kidding. I seem to get into trouble when I credit Jamaican reggae stars with inventing anything, so I’ll hold my tongue — except to say that Mr. Mouse is generally considered one of the godfathers of dancehall. Let the angry letters begin!
Of course, the entire city will be positively pulsing with world-class music for those glorious 10 days in late May and early June. But even though we’re barely midway through April, it’s never a bad idea to plan ahead. Tickets for all shows are on sale now at www.discoverjazz.com.
This just in: Local psychedelic indie-rock outfit My Dearest Darling are putting the finishing touches on a long-awaited debut record. In the build-up to the big event, the band has a couple of noteworthy gigs this week that local fans ought to put on their Google calendars.
On Wednesday, April 16, the band graces the hallowed halls of academia with a visit to local music showcase “Exposure” on UVM’s free-form radio station WRUV — that’s 90.1 on your FM dial, if you still have a radio, or http://www.uvm.edu/~wruv for the interweb set. The broadcast starts at 7 p.m. sharp.
The following Tuesday, April 22, you can catch them live and in person at Higher Ground’s Showcase Lounge — the band returns to the venue for its first performance since a recent opening slot for The Fiery Furnaces. This time around they’re warming up for Washington, D.C.’s heavy psychedelic-rock revivalists Dead Meadow. Consider me, um, “psyched.”
Speaking of new albums, here’s an interesting tidbit that crossed my desk recently. Ithaca-based funk-rock trio Revision have been touring the country in their veggie-oil-powered van, averaging about 100 shows per year. What’s interesting about a touring jam, er, funk-rock band, you ask? Well, nothing, really. But stick with me . . .
This Thursday the band is playing a “CD” release party at Nectar’s for their new record Amplification. I’m using quotes here because the CD isn’t really a CD. Rather, the album is available on a 1-GB USB drive in an effort to cut down on waste. Plus, once you’ve loaded the album and accompanying bonus material onto your computer, you’ll have a free USB drive. Nifty, no?
I’m not familiar with Revision’s music, but they claim to blend “the instrumentation of Soulive” with the “songwriting savvy of Wilco.” To which I say: no comment.
However, if you buy the album and don’t like it, you could sell it to Pure Pop this Saturday and pick up that Daryl Hall prog disc. Just a thought.
HAPPY TRAILS . . . ER, BIRTHDAY
Monoprix sightings have been somewhat rare of late, which is a bummer for the band’s rabid “swampy-tonk” fan base. Fortunately, this Monday the band is reconvening at Red Square in celebration of noted front man/honky-tonk hero Brett Hughes’ 21st birthday.
OK, I lied. In truth, Brett is a bit beyond drinking age. But anyone who plays as often and with as much charm and enthusiasm as the estimable Mr. Hughes is young at heart, regardless of what the calendar says. Yee-haw, indeed.
The impending trial of UVM senior Michelle Gardner-Quinn’s alleged murderer Brian Rooney will no doubt dominate headlines in the coming months. As the tragic circumstances surrounding her death re-enter our collective consciousness, it will be more important than ever to remember the positive impact Gardner-Quinn had in her all-too-brief existence.
With that in mind, local do-gooder Wyld Stallions Records is presenting a concert to benefit Michelle’s Earth Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to carrying out environmental work in her memory. This Thursday, The Monkey House plays host to some of the area’s finest female songwriters, including Steph Clark, Marie Claire, Maryse Smith and Aya Inoue’s latest project, The Leaves.