Saturday was a great day for those who enjoy music. We celebrated Record Store Day with a variety of free performances and activities across London and other areas in UK. Few things make me feel happier than good (live) music. Music, in London and for a good cause. Simply, brilliant. The video below may give you a feel for it.
Record Store Day was set up in US back in 2007 by about 700 independent record stores, and then quickly came to UK. Their aim is to draw attention to the big role they play in the music industry. Such stores kept being shut down, as they couldn’t compete with bigger, high street retailers and online players.
There certainly is a unique culture around them. Remember High Fidelity and those other movies and books where people used to hang out in record stores? It is not fiction. Musicians have hung around, worked and, even, performed there. This has contributed to the dissemination of artists and music genres over time and, generally, to keep alive the music industry. Where else would wanna-be musicians go if they wanted to sell their music to start with?
I attended the mini music festival on Berwick Street in Soho. It was buzzing with life! Apart from the usual street market, dj’s played in some of the shops there, street performances took place and a series of short gigs happened on a big stage at one end of the street. I couln’t have enjoyed it any less!
My favourite performances were Matthew E White’s and the guys on the short video below that I took at one of the unscheduled corner performances. But, the rest were as good, and we could see them for free.
But, there’s one performance that I, sadly, couldn’t catch – Brian May’s at Sister Ray store on Friday afternoon. Just one day earlier! The owner of Sister Ray mentioned this when asked at a Q&A session about the book and documentary The Last Shop Standing, by Graham Jones. Phil Barton mentioned that record labels and artists support Record Store Day. As he put it, they realise the role record stores in the music industry. In fact, David Bowie and some other artists released some material on vinyl in time for the celebration, as well as special releases by Pink Floyd or Marc Bolan.
An aspect worth noticing is the common distaste for CDs. Vinyl is still here, and the age range of the people queuing to buy records at all hours during the festival was wide.
So, the good cause that I mentioned above is keeping open the independent record stores. At the moment, there are about 300 still open in UK. I am a firm believer in the human touch when it comes to advice and selling things. The internet itself is made by human beings for human beings too. But, there’s so much info we all could upload onto the net! At Graham Jones’ presentation, I learnt that record store employees are specialists in one area, whilst retaining knowledge about other music genres. In other words, good people to ask for advice and experiences!
Oh, and I didn’t catch Paul Weller’s ‘secret’ gig with The Strypes at Rough Trade East either… Anyone attended?
Thank you for reading!