Record Store Reminiscing

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August 28, 2012 by Rebecca Bauer

Retro memories and vinyl lives on. The August article for Validity Magazine is on Weathers Brothers Music in Lawrenceburg, TN, a small treasure in a small town where you can meet charismatic southerners, hear some awesome bluegrass pickin’ and find your lost love – of music that is. They’re the little record store that thrives despite the digital age and where homage is paid to vinyl and cassette and Martin guitars. (Read the article here: Weathers Brothers Music Shop)

I can remember walking into a store in the early 80s and heading to the 45s to pick out the latest Top 40 hit from Madonna, Michael Jackson, Chicago and REO Speedwagon. What lives on in my collection of favorites are Bruce Springsteen, Billie Holiday and Bon Jovi. Funny how you can go from jumping for the latest CD to searching out the oldest format you can find since that seems to be what I love these days.

I grew up with a brother a generation older than me so I was entertained by sifting through stacks of albums, looking at groovy artwork of the Doobie Brothers, Pink Floyd and Simon and Garfunkel. And, I can still see those colorful birds enveloping the Partridge Family cover. Growing up in my household meant being exposed to all kinds of music, formats and instruments being that everyone was formally educated and classically trained, played it and taught it, except for me. My extent of musical performance was pretending to be an opera singer using the bottom of a music stand as a microphone, improvising on the keys of a piano and harpsichord and a couple of years of flute lessons and after school bands (working on digging out those pictures). Then I landed the record store job and it was good times in big hair days, concerts and backstage passes.

I first worked at a local store in Maryland called Waxie Maxie’s – named for owner Max Silverman and when records were actually made of wax – a company that dated as far back as 1938. The original store was Quality Radio Repair in the NW part of DC called Shaw, which also reared Duke Ellington and saw the riots after Martin Luther King’s death. The store hosted live radio broadcasts that included Sarah Vaughn and they sold used records for .10 cents apiece. One patron Silverman got to know well was Ahmet Ertegun, son of the Turkish Ambassador, who went on to start Atlantic Records.

Waxie Maxie’s grew to be a chain around the DC area and by the time I was there, cassettes and 45s had lost traction and the CD was packaged in twice as much cardboard then necessary. Dress codes were as individual as your own story, EVERYONE’s hair was long and the store speakers screamed out the voices and guitar riffs of Aerosmith, Van Halen and Guns & Roses. Then came a corporate buy-out where the stores would never be the same and eventually closed the doors forever – the sad death of record stores.

For some reason, when walking into Weathers Brothers Music, a record came to mind, one I played over and over in the midst of my Bo Duke crush days: John Schneider’s Now or Never (Elvis Presley cover). I thought how fun it would be to find such an obscure token of my youth. No such luck, but the storeowner was well aware of what I was looking for and would keep an eye out. I know it’s on Amazon, but it just wouldn’t be the same as picking through an old stack of vinyl with your own hands and pulling out a piece of the past.

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Rebecca Bauer

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