By K.D. Norris
The people behind the counter at the Corner Record Shop, located in Grandville just over the City of Wyoming border and long known as one of Western Michigan best places to browse for used vinyl and CDs, believe every day is Record Store Day.
But that doesn’t stop them from having a big ol’ party on the annual celebration of independent record stores — this year it being Saturday, April 22 — with an annual rush day of new vinyl releases, a bunch of bands in the back room, and a party-like atmosphere for customers familiar and newbie.
A bit of advice for the newbies, however, don’t say something like “vinyl is coming back” unless you want to look like a dork.
“Record Store Day has probably gotten bigger each year, just the number of releases and the people who are aware of it, as far as the public and customers,” said Bruce Parrott, who often works behind the counter for store owner Steve Williamson. “Vinyl has always been the biggest part of this business. People say all the time ‘vinyl is coming back, vinyl is coming back’. It has never left for us.”
So while there will be new vinyl releases to be checked out at the Corner Record Shop, they will also offer up live music.
“A lot of major labels are releasing stuff on Record Store Day, specifically, and the list gets bigger each year as more record labels participating in the day and offering things up,” Parrott said. “But we will have live bands in the back room too.”
Starting at noon — doors open at 11 a.m. for those wanting first crack at new releases — there will be live music until nearly 7 p.m., with local bands and musicians on stage including, in scheduled order, The Other Brothers, Dangerville, Jake Stevens Band, Tired Blood, Oliver Draper, Nate, Devin and The Dead Frets. (For video of some of the bands set to play, visit the store’s Facebook page.)
Whether is is Record Store Day, or any day, the Corner Record Shop is a microcosm of the not-so-new resurgence of vinyl, and part of is the fountain of knowledge of the staff on the subject.
“New vinyl is better, in most cases,” Parrott said. “The majority of releases come out on what is called 180 gram vinyl, which is a thicker, heavier, sturdier vinyl. Better made than they were — there are some ’70s RCA records, when they were going Dynaflex, you could bend in half almost. The quality of stuff coming out is really good.”
Great vinyl is coming out no matter what the genre of music, and trying to pigeonhole the genre of the store’s customers is a fool’s game.
“Just when you do that, then something, somebody changes your mind,” Parrott said. “We have a lot of shoppers of every genre. Obviously, classical listeners are getting a little older, so there is probably less of them then there are in the other genres. There is a lot of jazz people who look for new vinyl; definitely classic rock, the stuff that is getting reissued — everywhere from Prince to Led Zeppelin. We sell a lot of new vinyl of every genre.”
And, while most used vinyl (and CDs) are not all that expensive, depending on taste, rarity and how big a box set, there are exceptions.
“Just two months ago, they re-released all the George Harrison albums, every single one, those also came in a boxed set, which was $450. We sold one — one,” Parrott said. “We also have had (rare) albums that we have had priced at $400, that we put behind the wall (for protection) and sold them.”
Record Store Day started in 2008 as a way to celebrate and spread the word about the unique culture surrounding nearly 1,400 independently owned record stores in the US and thousands of similar stores internationally, according to its website. In 2008, a small list of titles was released on Record Store Day but that list has grown to include artists and labels both large and small. In 2015, 60 percent of the Record Store Day Official Release List came from independent labels and distributors.
Corner Record Shop is located at 3562 Chicago Dr SW, Grandville. For more information on events at Corner Record Shop, list them on Facebook @crs.grandville or call 616-531-6578.