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Record stores celebrate vitality Saturday

Store hop for deals at local vendors

Patrick Caldwell
Rise Against's Zach Blair will be at Waterloo Records from noon to 2 p.m. today to help sell records, according to the band's Web site. More than 700 U.S. stores are taking part in Record Store Day.

Three years ago, Eric Levin, owner of the Atlanta, Ga., music store Criminal Records, convened with a handful of other independent record store owners in Baltimore. Together, they sought to answer one simple question: Why did everybody assume they were dying?

"As a community, small record stores were unfairly painted as on the verge of extinction or as being old and not successful, when, in fact a lot of us were very successful and considered ourselves important parts of our community," Levin said. "I think that was the zeitgeist, with Tower Records failing and iTunes and Amazon rising, that all record stores were going down. But we were still employing people and paying taxes and having parties and hosting in-stores. It was a little bit insulting."

Drawing on his experience selling comic books, Levin and his associates proposed an annual celebration of independent, brick-and-mortar record stores to be held in the spring. Unlike the comic book industry's Free Comic Book Day, record stores couldn't give away free samples of their products — sorry, vinyl fiends — but they could host musical performances, discount merchandise and, most importantly, call upon musicians and the record industry to offer limited edition CDs, vinyls, books and DVDs to lure in music aficionados.

Levin helped launch the first Record Store Day in April 2008, and it returns for its third celebration Saturday, April 17, as more than 700 U.S. record stores and several hundred more around the world host performances and offer more than 200 Record Store Day exclusive releases from dozens of genres and artists, running the gamut from 7-inch singles to massive multi-vinyl box sets. More than a dozen Central Texas stores will participate in some fashion. To encourage the day's scavenger hunt and "Tour de Vinyl" quality, many will offer a discount of 10 percent on merchandise if you present a same-day receipt from another record store .

Levin says the annual shindig has served its intended purpose of changing perspectives on old-fashioned record stores.

"People who are only looking at their computers, maybe it's an editor in New York City or a label guy in Los Angeles, if all their information comes from the ether of the Internet they may not realize how vibrant this scene is. So Record Store Day is our way of saying to the community, 'Hey, the party is over here,' " Levin said. "That's resonated. From a press standpoint, everybody's abandoned the narrative of 'Oh, gosh, there's still record stores?' in favor of getting excited about what's coming out this year and who's playing."

Participating independent Central Texas record stores

  • Waterloo Records: 600 N. Lamar Blvd. 474-2500, waterloorecords.com . Scheduled events: Roky Erickson autograph session (noon); Zach Blair of Rise Against works as an employee (noon to 2 p.m.); Carrie Rodriguez works as an employee (2 to 4 p.m.); Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba perform (5 p.m.).
  • Antone's Records: 2928 Guadalupe St. 322-0660, antonesrecordshop.homestead.com
  • Breakaway Records:211 W. North Loop. 538-0174, rnb45.com/breakawayrecs/index/index.html
  • End of an Ear: 2209 S. First St. 462-6008, endofanear.com . Scheduled events: Rainbows Are Free performs (1 p.m.); The Lovely Sparrows perform (3 p.m.); Shawn McMillen performs (5 p.m.); Ume performs (6 p.m.).
  • Friends of Sound: 1704 S. Congress Ave. 447-1000, friendsofsound.com
  • Immortal Performances: 1404 W. 30th St. 478-9954
  • Out of the Past Collectibles: 5341 Burnet Road. 371-3550, myspace.com/outofthepastcollectibles
  • Sundance Records: 202 University Drive, San Marcos. 512-353-0888, www.sundancerecords.com
  • Trailer Space Records:1401 Rosewood. 524-1445, trailerspacerecords.com . Scheduled event: Mutant Press performs (7 p.m.)
  • Whetstone Audio: 2401 E. Sixth St. 477-8503, whetstoneaudio.com . Offering 10 percent off all records, turntables and cartridges. Free beer while it lasts.
  • Musicmania: Local DJs spin. 3909 D N. Interstate 35, Suite 1. 451-3361, myspace.com/musicmaniaatx . TJE Austin performs (3 p.m.)
  • Cheapo Discs: 914 N. Lamar Blvd. 477-4499, cheapotexas.com
  • Backspin Records: 4631 Airport Blvd., Suite 110A. 454-7746, backspinrecords.net . DJs spin throughout the day. Free beer while it lasts. Discounts on merchandise.
  • Piranha Records:1208 N. Interstate 35, Round Rock. 238-0418, piranharecords.cc

Exclusives

The more than 200 Record Store Day exclusive releases touch on nearly every decade, genre and musical format, from infectious modern indie rock to screaming punk to lilting country. Here are five of the day's best releases. View the complete list at www.recordstoreday.com, but call ahead to your store of your choice — selection will vary by store:

  • Devo, 'Fresh'/'What We Do.' A 12-inch vinyl single with two songs from the new wave kings.
  • Elvis Presley, 'That's Alright Mama'/'Blue Moon of Kentucky.' A perfect reproduction of the original 7-inch single, with a digital download included.
  • Fela Kuti, 'Fela Kuti.'A 10-inch vinyl with four songs recorded in 1969, during the Afrobeat pioneer's legendary Los Angeles sessions.
  • John Lennon 7-inch box set.A premium package featuring three 7-inch singles (including 'Imagine' and 'Watching the Wheels') as well as postcards and a poster.
  • Peter Gabriel 7-inch singles. Ever since Gabriel cheekily covered Vampire Weekend's 'Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,' he's embarked on covering contemporary artists for the album 'Scratch My Back.' That's being followed by 'I'll Scratch Yours,' in which those artists return the favor by covering Gabriel. Those sessions have produced two for Record Store Day — one featuring Gabriel and Bon Iver, and the other with Gabriel and the Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt.