Listen up: Record Store Day hits local stores this Saturday

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Gravity Records owner Matt Keen is gearing up for Record Store Day, an internationally celebrated event he said is the busiest day of the year for his local shop. Courtesy photos.
Gravity Records owner Matt Keen is gearing up for Record Store Day, an internationally celebrated event he said is the busiest day of the year for his local shop. Courtesy photos.

For vinyl collectors and audiophiles, Record Store Day is more than just an annual promotion. It’s a festive celebration on par with Christmas.

It’s an assertion Gravity Records owner Matt Keen would certainly stand behind.

Ahead of the highly anticipated annual event this Saturday, Keen is already counting on it being the busiest shopping day of the year, more bustling, even, than Black Friday.

“Usually, there are well over 100 people in line before we open,” Keen said. “Throughout the day we suspect there are upwards of 1,000 people who come through the store. Which is a lot for a little record store like ours.”

He’s not the only one bracing for the crowds. With yet another long list of exclusive, limited run, regional focus and first releases up for grabs, Gravity, 612 Castle St., Reggie’s Records and Hair, 1415 S. 42nd St., and Yellow Dog Discs, 315 S. College Rd., will all be getting in on the action.

This year’s Record Store Day features a spectrum-covering collection of vinyl – from the spastic pop of indie outfit Hot Hot Heat to country crooners like Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris, 80s guilty pleasures a la A-Ha to electronica, heavy metal giants to hip hop icons such as Outkast, jazz greats (ahem, Thelonious Monk) and, well, Justin Bieber.

There is also a host of rare picture discs – the “Star Wars” soundtrack, David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World” and “Deeply Rooted” from Scarface, among them.

Vinyl collectors line up outside Gravity during last year's Record Store Day. Keen said the event annually draws hundreds to his store, many who show up long before opening time.
Vinyl collectors line up outside Gravity during last year’s Record Store Day. Keen said the event annually draws hundreds to his store, many who show up long before opening time.

While Gravity, which has recently staged a number of in-store performances with five in April alone, is opting to keep it low-key and focus on the releases, Reggie’s is slinging stacks and drinks throughout the day, with lots of whiskey and beer on hand. The Lupine, Nu Clear Twins, Jason Ward, and Interstellar Eagle will play live throughout the event, which runs from noon to 6 p.m.

Yellow Dog will also have some musicians make appearances, and will be giving out goodie bags full of Record Store Day swag to the first 25 people in line. Gravity and Yellow Dog will both open early at 8 a.m., and all stores will have some freebies – stickers, samplers, patches and such.

Conceived in 2007 by independent record store owners and their employees, Record Store Day aims to celebrate and spread the word about the unique culture surrounding nearly 1,000 independently owned record stores in the U.S. and thousands of similar shops across the globe.

It’s a day in which hungry record hunters and store owners can both rejoice, Keen said.

“[It’s] important to vinyl collectors because the releases put together for Record Store Day each year are done so in very limited quantities, guaranteeing they will remain collectible and valuable for years to come,” he said. “Record Store Day is important to us as a store because it’s a reminder to the general public that record stores still exist and are still the best way to get turned on to music, both new and old.”

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at hilary.s@portcitydaily.com.