Locally rooted record shops band together nationally one day each year to honor an act some might consider dated: buying music from a store.
The fifth annual Record Store Day on Saturday will offer different kinds of incentives for people to visit any of the 1,700 independent retailers participating nationwide.
The event started as a celebration of record store culture, which seemed threatened for years by changes in the industry. In 2008, Chris Brown, an independent record store employee in Portland, Maine, declared the third Saturday of every April Record Store Day — a day to bring attention to stores that defied what many assumed was their end.
San Luis Obispo’s Boo Boo Records and Cheap Thrills Records have been registered participants since the beginning. On Saturday, both plan to offer promotional deals, entertainment and exclusive Record Store Day releases from more than 100 artists.
Arcade Fire, Katy Perry, Slightly Stoopid and Phish are some of the artists dropping 7-inch or LP records available only on Record Store Day that will be distributed randomly among the registered stores.
Stacks of cardboard boxes full of Record Store Day merchandise sit at Boo Boo Records on Monterey Street like Christmas presents waiting to be torn open.
Boo Boo Records manager Malik Miko Thorne said the store receives more Record Store Day releases every year.
“I just opened a box today and there’s a Florence + the Machine 7-inch that’s been remixed by (R&B artist) The Weeknd,” Thorne said. “There’s an old release that’s just coming out for the first time (on vinyl) called The Mynah Byrds. It was an earlier release that featured Neil Young and Rick James together. There are just loads and loads of things.”
In addition to selling limited edition vinyl, Boo Boo Records will silk-screen custom apparel or bags and feature live performances throughout the day. Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers, a country-soul band from San Francisco, is headlining.
“(Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers) have been posting some really rad videos online of them doing these van sessions as they’re driving on their tour,” Thorne said.
Thorne said another reason people attend the event is to meet and interact with other music enthusiasts.
“It’s still a convenient point where people who are into music still hover around,” he said. “It’s an actual location. You’re shopping for vinyl, you see the other guy shopping for vinyl and you strike up discussion. You meet music heads.”
Music heads are expected to convene on the opposite side of downtown San Luis Obispo as well. Cheap Thrills Records on Higuera Street is cutting its prices to draw them in.
Cheap Thrills Records employee Brent Dannells said all of the store’s record supplies will be 25 percent off and some of Record Store Day’s limited edition vinyl will be available.
“We are going to get some of the Record Store Day (releases),” Dannells said. “A lot of that stuff is really limited, though. To us, it’s kind of outrageously priced. It’s really for collectors to buy so they can go immediately onto eBay and resell it for a profit.”
Dannells said better audio quality, rather than commercial hype, is what appeals to him about vinyl.
“Any time you have a big band or a piano, bells, chimes (or) anything like that with a very complicated waveform, when you digitize it, you’re compressing it,” Dannells said. “When you go to a CD, you get a certain amount of compression. When you go to an MP3, you’re getting maybe half of that information that’s found in the groove of a well-maintained record.”
Cheap Thrills Records is more focused on providing a wide selection of affordable music “people will actually listen to,” Dannells said.
The store will offer an expanded selection of records new and used — some marked down to as low as $1.98.
Kevin Andersen, who works at Vinyl Isle in Morro Bay, said he has been shopping at Cheap Thrills Records since 1973 — two years after the store opened — and plans on coming in Saturday to browse the expanded selection of vinyl as well as show support for the music selling business.
“It’s kind of a big deal for the record collectors because there’s new stuff out to go through,” he said. “It’s good for the people that work in the record stores because it makes them feel like they’re appreciated. It’s a celebration of the people that are in the business.”
He said records appeal to him because they offer a physical component to the music.
“In the age of electronics, I think there’s something nice about the tactile experience of actually physically holding the album in your hand and the ritual of putting it on,” Andersen said.
History senior JT De La Torre said he likes vinyl for its aesthetic value.
“I like the fact that the albums come with bigger artwork, especially if it’s an album that’s got a really nice cover,” De La Torre said. “On the CD, it’s all tiny, so some of the details you can’t see as well.”
He said he is excited for Record Store Day because of the opportunity to find rereleases of old records that are hard to find.
“They’re reissuing this Buddy Guy album that’s one of my favorite albums,” De La Torre said. “They’re doing a high quality, 180-gram pressing of it. I probably would’ve never even seen a copy of it used in my whole life, let alone one that was playable. And this thing’s going to be brand new. It’s going to be awesome.”