In My Life
Grouch Marx is reported to have said “I Don’t Want to Belong to Any Club That Will Accept Me as a Member.” Throughout my life, I have accepted Groucho’s sentiments and have tried to avoid membership in most clubs that I had the opportunity to join. I opted out of all available clubs in high school, avoided fraternities in college and can honestly say that the lack of being in clubs over those years did not prevent me from having a good time.
After all, not being in a club means you don’t have to pay dues, you don’t have to attend meetings and most of all, there are no assignments that need your immediate attention. My kind of club means that you show up when you want to, pay as much money as you want to and have no requirements on my time. That’s why I am proud to say that I am a non-voting member of the fictitious, yet quite relevant, Association of Record Store Aficionados.
Here’s how it works: The ARSA exists in my mind, does not collect money, so there is no yearly, monthly or daily fee to become a member or maintain membership. There are no yearly, monthly or weekly meetings although for the past few years, Record Store Day has brought out many of my ARSA brethren to take part in this celebration of special music provided by artists and record companies. There are no work projects, overbearing bosses or expense reports to fill out. The one and only requirement is to frequent the record stores of your choice in any part of the world so as to rummage through the bins of their records and if you find something you’d like to purchase, then buy it.
One of the other advantages of belonging to this fictitious association is the camaraderie you will experience when you enter any record store. Virtually, every record store attracts people behind the counter who not only love music, but are willing to talk about it, as well. That model was developed by TOWER Records. Have a large selection of music, employ people who are knowledgeable about the music and make it easy for the customer to buy the music.
To illustrate the global reach of the ARSA, I recently went on vacation to Iceland. The capital city of that country Reykjavik boasts an active music scene and supports five record stores. Naturally, I visited all five.
The store that I liked the best was called Lucky Records. My usual interest is to rummage through the 45’s so that I can add new records to my Seeburg jukebox. The 45’s at Lucky were categorized by year and genre and so I began my search. A person from the store asked me if he could be of assistance and so our conversation began.
Turns out this person was one of the owners of the store. He and his partner were regular vinyl/CD sellers at flea markets on the week-ends in and around Reykjavik. As their business grew, they decided to leave their day jobs and devote their full energies to the record store. That was a number of years ago and they never looked back.
To make my record buying experience more pleasurable, he offered me a chair so that I could be comfortable as I rummaged through the 45’s. This was similar to my record buying experience back in December at Euclid Records in New Orleans where they have a couch in the same area as their boxes of 45’s. Anything to make the customer comfortable while buying is a good idea.
Lucky Records, for any serious collector of music is “must visit” location when in Reykjavik, Iceland. The record store person recommended an album by a group called KALEO. I was told that they are one of the top musical groups in Iceland.
The band is fronted by Jokull Juliusson. The band recently signed a deal with Atlantic Records, moved to Ausitn, Texas and is in the midst of a U.S. tour. Their sound incorporates the blues and is reminiscent of southern influences. After the first time I heard the album, I was hooked. Hard to believe this is a bunch of guys from Iceland. Their music has already been featured on the HBO series, “Vinyl”. Their tracks have already had 29 million plays on Spotify.
I asked for another representation of music from Iceland and the owner recommended a jazz album that had just been released earlier that week. It’s called Jazz in Icelandic and features two CD’s by a local jazz musician, Tomas R. Einarsson.
Einarsson, a bass player has been a staple of the Iceland jazz scene for over 30 years. He is a major celebrity there. I truly enjoyed both CD’s wrapped in the one package.
So, once again as I travel the world in search of checking off items on my bucket list, while at the same time finding unique record stores, I was able to accomplish both goals in Iceland.