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Record Store Day 2012

Wooden Nickel celebrates RSD — and its 30th anniversary — with performances, giveaways, and prizes on April 21

By Jim Fester


Fort Wayne Reader


For well over a decade, it’s been common knowledge that the industry once responsible for producing, distributing, and selling recorded music on physical objects is not as… robust as it used to be, to put it mildly. Digital downloads, legal and otherwise, have fractured the record business, jeopardizing not only the bigger companies that used to be at the top of the heap, but the retail outlets that used to sell the music on whatever format it was released on.

But one link in that chain has shown a bit more resilience than had been expected — the independent record store.

In 2008, a group of small, independent record stores from across the country established Record Store Day, an event to celebrate the independent record store and proclaim its vitality and importance.

Record Store Day has grown every year, with more record companies and leading bands and artists stepping up with special releases and one-time-only offerings.

This year, Record Store day falls on Saturday, April 21, and a couple local independent stores — Wooden Nickel and Neat, Neat, Neat Records — are participating with in-store performances and special offers.

Wooden Nickel — which has three locations on Fort Wayne — was one of the 32 original members that launched Record Store Day back in 2008. “It has grown tremendously,” says Bob Roets, Wooden Nickel’s owner. “There’s a lot more participation from artists than there was at the beginning. The first year we had a whopping 27 releases from record companies. This year we have 250. Many of the major names in the music business are releasing something special.”

Among those 250 releases you’ll find established names like Metallica, Genesis, Bruce Springsteen and Coldplay, alongside newer artists and bands like Blitzen Trappen, all with limited edition, “RSD-only” releases. A pretty striking mix of genres are represented, from old-time blues and country to pop. “Some are CDs, but the emphasis this year is on vinyl,” Roets says.

Also, record companies are offering “goodie bags” to the first 200 customers at any location.

According to Roets, the industry was sounding the death knell for the independent record store long before MP3 became a household word. In the 90s, big stores like Best Buy and Borders could not only afford to stock deep catalogs of your favorite established artists, but they even had some room for more obscure and semi-obscure newer acts and smaller labels. Then, later in the decade, Amazon and other on-line retailers came along…

That’s exactly the way it played out for Roets and Wooden Nickel, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. “Back in 1992, when Best Buy first opened in town here, we were doing really well,” he says. “We had five stores, everything was going great, and then we saw our sales dip by about 30%. That really, really hurt us.”

Now, of course, Border’s and several other outlets are gone, and Best Buy has drastically cut back on its CD selection. “Best Buy dropped about 40% of the music department in the last 18 months,” says Roets. “Now, we have the selection and they just have the hits.”

Not that everything is great for independent record stores in general. “Those smaller stores and local chains… there just aren’t many left,” Roets says. But the loss of the music sections in those big box stores and — to a lesser extent — a resurgent interest in vinyl have given the remaining stores a new lease on life.

One way that many independent record stores have served their respective communities is by supporting and promoting local music, and Wooden Nickel is certainly no exception. Throughout the year, the Wooden Nickel on North Anthony hosts many in-store performances from local bands and artists, and Record Store Day 2012 boasts a line-up of performances from some of the best in Fort Wayne. 22 bands will be playing at the N Anthony and Southwest location throughout the day, starting at 10 AM.

Wooden Nickel is wrapping its 30th anniversary up into Record Store Day this year, and giving away around $1000 worth of special prizes of its own — including drawings for tickets for the sold out Elton John show that night at the Coliseum. Other prizes include a $200 gift certificate to Wooden Nickel, an A-T USB turntable, the Beatles CD catalog in one box, and others.

As far as trends in music retail, Roets and Tim Hogan, who runs the North Anthony store, have seen a lot of them — old-school Fort Wayners might recognize names like Ruby’s Records, Slatewood Records, and Karma Records, all places Hogan and/or Roets have worked at. Still, when I ask about Record Store Day’s seeming emphasis on vinyl, Roets seems at a loss to explain why he thinks the format has become somewhat popular again. Not that it’s huge, of course, but considering that just a few years ago it was non-existent… “I think the whole youth market now is just looking for something different,” he says. “ Maybe it’s the artwork on some of these older sleeves, maybe it’s just the… physical aspect of it.”

“But it’s sort of become the ‘hip’ thing to do, put on a vinyl record,” he adds. “I think it’s cool, because obviously that helps us find a new generation of customers.”

Neat Neat Neat Records at 1836 Calhoun is also participating in Record Store Day (it opens 8 am), and will have the special releases available, plus the goodie bags. Owner Morrison Agen says buskers will be playing outside the store throughout the day, and inside, DJ Fresh Ben will be spinning the new releases. “He was here last year, and that guy was a trooper,” Agen says. “He DJ’ed for 12 hours.”

Agen, whose store has been around for about a year, says Neat, Neat, Neat focuses almost solely on vinyl and vinyl playback systems. Agen says he thinks the resurgence of vinyl is due to a number of reasons — some genres, like jazz, are just served better by vinyl, he says — but among young people, it’s a backlash against MP3 culture.

“Music has become this cheap commodity, and I think people know in their heart of hearts that’s not the way it should be,” Agen says. “The film industry, for example, has invested millions and millions of dollars to create a premium product for people to experience for two hours at a time, and people are paying for it. They’re paying $14 for some 3-D movie that doesn’t even look all that good. The music industry did exactly the opposite with their product when it came to MP3s. They dumbed it down so much that they cheapened it, and made it a crappy commodity. The resurgence of the vinyl LP is a pushback against that.”

For more information on Record Store Day, including a list of releases, visit recordstoreday.com

For more on Wooden Nickel, visit woodennickelmusicfortwayne.com

For more on Neat Neat Neat Records, visit neatneatneatrecords.com


Wooden Nickel Budget and Collector’s Store
3422 North Anthony

10 AM — Sunny Taylor
10:45 AM — Mike Conley
11:15 AM — Allan & Ashcraft
Noon — Dag & the Bulliet Boys
12:40 PM — Keith Owen
1 PM — Kill The Rabbitt
1:45 PM — Left Lane Cruiser
2:30 PM — Afro-Disiacs
3:15 PM — Black Cat Mambo
4 PM — John Minton & The Possum Trot Orchestra
5 PM — Krimsha
6 PM — Valhalla
6:30 PM — Argonaut
7:30 PM — Exterminate All Rational Thought
8:30 PM — Taylor Fredricks
9:30 PM — Billy Youngblood and the Smokin' Gorillas.

Wooden Nickel Southwest
6427 West Jefferson

3 PM — The Electric Panda
4 PM — Mathis Grey
5 PM — Future X
6 PM — Plaxton & the Void
7 PM — Catbox
8 PM — To The Point.

Drawings and giveaways happen throughout the day at the North Anthony Store. You must register and be present to win.

Record company “goodie bags” for the first 200 customers and special limited edition releases will be available at all three Wooden Nickel locations, including the 3627 N Clinton Store

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