Yes, you can buy vinyl and CD’s on Amazon, but why are record stores thriving? It’s the human interaction around a passion like music that can never be replaced by the internet or compressed music formats. Bart Stinchcomb, the founder of Bart’s records, sculpted a business from love. When asked about the highlights of owning a brick and mortar music store for twenty-five years, Bart has some easy answers:
- His wife. Christina came walking into Bart’s early location near Nick and Will’s looking for her lost dog. But he actually got her number when she came back and placed a special order for “Kind of Blues.”
- “All the people! What a joy! What a blast!” Bart has kept in touch with each and every employee.
- The old “in stores” where musicians played to intimate crowds inside the store. One such exchange that touched him deeply was a late night conversation with Sam Bush and his wife, Lynne in 2006, telling stories of Bill Monroe.
- His kids grew up in the store. First they were captive in play pens and then they made “houses” under the storage bins, stopping by after school and finally working there as their first jobs.
- Landlords who were like family. Anne Beck and Carter Dorrell who owned the Pearl site (where Ozo’s coffee is now) were like family, dropped by plates of cookies at Christmas time. Very special people.
- The human interaction has been priceless. Bart says that he has customers who come in and remember that Bart sold them their copy of Abbey Road and the year. You can’t get that on Amazon. Music connects us.
- And finally to see the legacy live on with the new ownership. He has found a new owner in Will Paradise who has so much enthusiasm and love of music.
We love you, Bart! Thanks for all you’ve done to make Boulder a great, very human place to live.
By Elizabeth McNie
It’s taken weeks. Sometimes I question my commitment. Am I too involved? Is this a sign of deeper problems?
Training my David Bowie station on Pandora is no easy task. Picking which songs to like or dislike takes time and commitment. Early on, Pandora slipped in too much Beatles and the David Bowie station was fast becoming a British Pop Invasion station. “She Loves Me”? Please, no. Can you imagine the Alladin Sane Bowie singing that, maybe on the Ed Sullivan Show? And, “Imagine,” by Lennon, had me in a quandary… I love the song but was it to optimistic? Too cliché for a David Bowie station? Then there was Tom Petty… I liked the song, “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”, but not for a Bowie station. The rock vibe was to mainstream. I’ve pressed the thumbs up and down buttons so often I have tendonitis, yet the station has grown up nicely.
I’m proud of the work we’ve done and now I have a mostly well-behaved station that includes the likes of Lou Reed, The Sex Pistols, Queen, The Ramones, Led Zeppelin, The Clash, Velvet Underground, The Kinks, Jimi Hendrix, The Talking Heads, and yes, The Beatles (only the older years). I keep waiting for a Patti Smith or Joan Jett to pop up but as of yet, nada, to my surprise. The Pandora algorithm could use some feminine energy. Inexplicably, sometimes an hour or more passes without hearing any Bowie songs and yet I’ve pretty much ‘liked’ every one that gets played.
Training never ends. I have to be vigilant. Intruders lurk behind the next song. Just today Pandora tried slipping in a Rick Springfield song, “Jessie’s Girl,” and I almost got whiplash reaching so fast for the thumbs-down button. Just an hour later Pandora started playing “Sweet Home Alabama.” That’s when I asked, “What would David Bowie Do?”. Pretty sure Lynard Skynard wasn’t on his iPod. And then Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Down on the Corner” had me in a pickle. That song has serious emotional meaning for me. My Dad and I used to sing along to his 8 track and “Down on the Corner” was our favorite. I know every CCR song by heart. But the sound is all wrong for a David Bowie station so I reluctantly thumbs-downed it. Gone bluesy rock, but hopefully, not for good.
The best part of my training effort is that I get to learn about new albums that will have to become part of my collection. Albums like “Bowie at the Beeb: The Best of the BBC Radio Sessions 1968-1972.” In this fantastic album, Bowie covers many songs from his Ziggy Stardust album. The sound is more soulful, intimate and robust than his studio albums. Another gem I discovered is “David Bowie Live Santa Monica ‘72” which includes a great “Queen Bitch” rendition. I’ve rediscovered other artists I haven’t listened to in years, like Iggy Pop (in fact I was never into Iggy Pop so count this more as a new discovery). His “Anthology” will be a good place to start which includes an edgier “China Girl” than Bowie’s version and “Passenger” which has a timeless soul and takes me right back to my teens driving through the hills of Oakland and Berkeley. Other pleasant surprises include hearing Zeppelin’s “Tangerine” probably for the first time, and digging deeper into The Clash’s “London Calling” with songs like “Spanish Bombs” and “Rudie Can’t Fail.”
How would you train David Bowie? What songs would make the cut? What’s missing from my station? Training David Bowie has been a chore, but definitely worth the process to discover new albums that I need to get at Bart’s.
For most readers, Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad kept us riveted up until the very end as it chronicles all the ways that slavery was translated from the plantation to the secretive medical experiments to the faux freedoms. As we read the pages we feel how we all got here – to this place that needs to find healing. I finished the 2016 National Book Award winner curled up in a ball. But why am I writing about this on a record shop blog? Well, for starters, I want everyone to read it. And then, the acknowledgments make my record-shop-owning-heart quicken.
And I quote, “The first one hundred pages were fueled by the Misfits (“Where the Eagles Dare [fast version],” “Horror Business,” “Hybrid Moments”) and Blanck Mass (“Dead Format”). David Bowie is in every book and I always put on Purple Rain and Daydream Nation when I write the final pages; so thanks to him and Sonic Youth. And finally, …”
Seriously, he always puts on Purple Rain for the final pages? His novel never left the 19th century, yet his characters were powered through the emotion and pathos of Prince, of Bowie. I have been thinking about this for months. Is it Prince’s lyrics or rhythms or symbolism that help him bring his writing home, tying it all up in National Book Award winning fashion. Admittedly, I haven’t read any of his other books, (but I intend to now) and I am inspired that these artists of his formative years drive every plot. That’s genius: touching the artist’s emotion and letting it flow from genre to medium and back around. It’s all the same yearning, we just express it in the way we can. I wonder how many other artists of various mediums create while jamming to Sonic Youth?
And I love that he felt compelled to mention them in his acknowledgments, sandwiched between his editors and his family.
Go read the book.