This Saturday is 4/20. You know what that means? Uh-huh. Time for all of us Coloradoans to celebrate our favorite annual holiday. That's right. Record Store Day! Record Store Day has come a long way since it kicked off in 2007. The third Saturday of April has morphed into an international holiday of sorts, a celebration of tactile music.
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The business of running a record store has transformed completely in the past fifteen years. While there's no single silver bullet for brick-and-mortar owners looking to compete with online music stores and file sharing, many have come up with creative ways to keep the customers rolling in. It's gone far beyond diversifying a store's merchandise or stocking up on more vinyl for the hard-core collectors.
Twice a year, Record Store Day offers a whole wealth of incentives for customers to get away from their laptops and buy their music the old-fashioned way: Rare releases from record labels, special in-store deals, support from local bands in the form of live performances -- it's all part of the international Record Store Day celebration, and this Saturday, April 20, will be no different at stores across the metro area.
The April celebration is still much bigger than the Black Friday version of the promotion that takes place in November. In Colorado, the spring event has morphed into something bigger than a simple promotion, with several of the town's best-loved stores using the event as a live forum for local bands and a way to reconnect with the local music community.
At Wax Trax, for example, the celebration will stretch across the entire weekend this year, with performances by bands like the Nu, Accordion Crimes and the Outfit. At Twist & Shout, guest DJs will be spinning records throughout the day, and Arvada's signature store Black & Read is set to host Speedwolf and DJ Buncha Grief. In Aurora, the owners of Angelo's CDs and More are taking the celebration a step further, giving the day a community feel with an open mic event and a barbecue cookout.
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"To me it's getting back to the actual physical copies of the music," notes Marcel Veal, a manager at the Angelo's store in Aurora. "It's a good old-fashioned feel: going into a record store, getting a piece, meeting people, getting tickets to concerts."
Of course, all of that local flavor comes on top of an overwhelming list of special releases specifically timed for Record Store Day. The 2013 list of special editions includes hundreds of titles by artists that range from Lamb of God to Frank Zappa. Judging from the sales last year, records geared toward hardcore collectors and fans like the 12-inch vinyl deluxe edition of Phish's "Lawn Boy" is set to go quick.
"I'm sure that Phish has a dedicated fanbase, and that's certainly something that overlaps with vinyl collectors," notes Dave Wilkinson of Wax Trax. "If last year was any indicator, that shit will go out the door like gangbusters. Everyone was gunning for the Phish record." But more importantly, the effect of the special releases and in-store shows goes beyond any single day for many record store owners. Wilkinson says the day tends to lead to a larger shift in shopping habits.
"I think it certainly does have a radius of activity, where it may not last the whole year between Record Store Days," Wilkinson admits. "But the two months leading up and a month or so afterward, it's still on people's minds." That means that customers are still looking for the rare Record Store Day vinyl releases days and weeks after the third Saturday of the month. It also means they're more liable to remember that brick-and-mortar shop as a place to spend money, a community resource that offers a lot more than Amazon or the iTunes store.
"That's something that we'll always be pushing. Record Store Day is just one day," Wilkinson maintains. "The record stores that truly matter and that people truly love exist outside the day."
At Angelo's, owners are hoping the day will introduce customers to the diversity of the store's stock. In the past decade, owner Angelo Coiro has worked to expand beyond CDs, including more vinyl and other products. The stores in Aurora, Littleton and Wheat Ridge carry clothes, pipes, perfume and toys. It's all part of a push to redefine the traditional role of a record store. "All of the stores have diversified," Coiro notes. "Each store does a little bit different sales according to their neighborhood."
Keep reading for details on what each local store has planned for Record Store Day
Absolute Vinyl Records and Stereo The Record Store Celebration at Absolute Vinyl Records and Stereo, 5360 Arapahoe Ave. in Boulder, is set to feature a good deal of unorthodox themes for its Record Store Day celebration. In addition to the sales and deals set to kick off when the store opens at 10 a.m., the store will host live music, karate demonstrations, break dancers and special events that would fit in easily at a carnival.
Angelo's CDs and More The three Angelo's stores in Aurora, Littleton and Wheat Ridge will kick off the festivities with midnight openings and Saturday and sales and promotions. In Aurora, the combined Record Store Day and 4/20 party on Saturday will include a cookout and an open mic event, as well as the formal opening of the store's new expanded space.
Atomic Records Atomic Records at 340 S. Broadway will open at 10 a.m. on Saturday and will offer 20 percent off on all used vinyl.
Black & Read Records Black & Read Records at 7821 Wadsworth Blvd. in Arvada will host Speedwolf for a live performance from 1:30 to 2 p.m. DJ Buncha will spin old-school hip-hop and modern electronic music throughout the day.
Independent Records This Record Store Day is a special one for Independent Records as it marks the release of Imagine Dragons Live at Independent Records, an EP culled from a live performance at the Colfax location this past fall. Besides the typical promo related exclusives and such, the store will be discounting all used music and other items by 20 percent, and hosting in-stores by an array of acts, including Reno Divorce, Constant Tourists, Kinky Fingers, New Olds and Johnny Barber.
Twist & Shout The first fifty customers to arrive when the store at 2508 E. Colfax opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday will get a grab bag with Record Store Day goodies. The store will host contests and giveaways through the whole day. Reverb and First Drafts Record Store Day Happy Hour will run from 3 to 5 p.m. and will feature beer tastings and live DJs.
Wax Trax While this year's celebration isn't apt to rival the store's anniversary party last year, there will still be plenty of live music and deals on Saturday and Sunday. Scheduled performances include sets by the Knew, Dragondeer, Thee Dang Dangs, the Outfit, Accordion Crimes, Glass Hits, Ttotals, Magic Cyclops and Elk. Comedy sets by the Fine Gentleman's Club are also scheduled.
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