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Thursday, April 19, 2012 03:31 pm

Celebrate your record store

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Gary, left, and Mark Kessler of Recycled Records celebrate Record Store Day on April 21.
PHOTO BY DAVID HINE

From the humble efforts of a few who believed in honoring our independent record stores, we now have an internationally celebrated and recognized day known as Record Store Day. Held on the third Saturday of April since 2007, the global event brings together thousands of music artists, record companies, independent record stores and music fans to celebrate the important work involved in making recorded music available at the retail level to the public, outside of mainstream corporate systems.

Once a common meeting place for thinking music folks, the locally owned record store fell prey to consumer wars waged by box stores, as well as the iPod influence and availability of online music sources. In decades past, the Platter, Co-op Records, Appletree Records, Washington’s Record Shop and other area storefronts sold recorded music with varied selections, a knowledgeable staff and a vibe of coolness that never surfaced in the Shopko CD section.

Now Recycled Records, at 225 East Adams in lovely downtown Springfield, is our only independent choice, and what a wonderful and special place it is. Run by brothers Mark and Gary Kessler, the operation began as a used record shop on the stair landing in Springfield Furniture, the family-owned and operated store. After several years the music retail business surpassed the furniture sales and included new music selections as well as other items. Currently the brothers sell many things, but the music recordings, new and used, are the core and focus of the store.

According to Mark, Record Store Day has been a real boost in sales and excitement. More and more musicians and record companies contribute one-of-a-kind recordings just for this day, offering limited editions deemed extra valuable by collectors. In 2007 Metallica became the first name band to offer special versions of its songs and now everybody from the Rolling Stones to Lady Gaga, R.E.M to Duran Duran, Beastie Boys to Miles Davis are in on the act.

This Saturday, April 21, Recycled Records celebrates by offering many of the special releases (order ahead, my friends) for sale and with an all-day, in store, radio remote broadcast by our only local hope of independent music on the airwaves, WQNA. Several of the volunteer DJs from the station spin favorite records all day long using individual choice to decide what you get to hear, not a boardroom-made list relayed from a faraway satellite designed for profit not pleasure.

Unfortunately from what I read in the papers and hear through sources, WQNA 88.3 the Edge, is in transition. The radio and television department of the Capital Area Career Center, operators of the station, is closing due to low enrollment. The fate of the FCC license for the radio station now depends on decisions made by the CACC board. If they let it go, the talk is to make WQNA a nonprofit community station on the order of many others around the country, similar to KDHX in St. Louis. Stay tuned to 88.3 FM for more details. At this point many things could happen.

Happy Record Store Day to you all and perhaps we’ll need a Community Radio Station Day soon.

Congratulations to Gary Best and his Koo Koo’s Nest for making it six years in the Springfield bar and entertainment business. The north side spot near Sangamon and Dirksen celebrates Saturday night with Hipbone Sam Band and on Sunday afternoon with Pork Pie & the North End All-stars. Also congrats to the Hipbone for doing 75 Tuesdays of Open Jams . . . and counting.
Here’s a reminder that Marina V and Ben Bedford, locally connected, nationally known singer-songwriters, are both in the middle of fundraising campaigns to finance their new records. Check out the artists’ websites for more information.  

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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