April 22nd may be the busiest Saturday this spring for Memphis music lovers and vinyl hounds. Shangri-La Records and Goner Records are both opening early to participate in the 10th anniversary celebration of Record Store Day [RSD]; Burke's Book Store is hosting a reading and concert for Jim Dickinson's I'm Just Dead, I'm Not Gone in the Cooper-Young gazebo; and Lucero's annual Block Party closes out the festivities in the Minglewood parking lot.
I've done the math, and it seems like, with determination and careful planning, it's possible to see Tall David, Some Sons of Mudboy (twice), and end the day on a blanket in front of Minglewood, counting a stack of rare 7-inchers to the sounds of Son Volt.
The official list of RSD exclusives is nine pages long and includes rarities from Link Wray, Emmylou Harris, Prince, Ramones, Spoon, and the Kinks, not to mention a previously unreleased Diamond Dogs-era David Bowie concert. As if that isn't enough to get any music junkie out of bed early, Waxploitation Records is releasing a "literary mixtape" of stories written by Nick Cave, Jim James, and others. And I haven't even mentioned the children's record by Johnny Cash or the third and final installment in Big Star's three-part release for Complete Third.
"We're participating in a huge way," says Shangri-La owner Jared McStay. "We ordered more stuff than we ever have." McStay says he's not allowed to let slip which of the RSD exclusives he ordered for the store, but he's excited about what's coming in. The store cleared out some space with their Fool Fest sale, and McStay says they have been stockpiling some special rarities as well as local records to put out on Saturday alongside the RSD exclusives. "We're open early," McStay says. "And we've got a band playing at 2 p.m."
Last year, while waiting for a show to begin at the Mercy Lounge in Nashville, I watched as David Johnson, the leader of Tall David, led the crowd — or at least the Memphis contingent of it — in an enthusiastic sing-a-long rendition of Harry Nilsson's "Without You." (I don't want to add fuel to the feud, but no one from Nashville joined in the sing-a-long.) This year, fresh from an opening slot at Dead Soldiers' album-release show, Tall David will lead the festivities at Shangri-La with an afternoon performance in the store's parking lot.
- Jesse Davis
"Come expecting to see the world's tallest rock-and-roll crooner. Come early," Johnson says of the free show. However, most Memphis music junkies will split time between the Madison record shop and its Cooper-Young counterpart, the holy grail of garage rock, Goner Records.
"One year we had a memorable guitar shred-off with some people playing their best licks back and forth," Goner guru Eric Friedl says, but this year, Goner is letting Burke's Book Store take over the performance duties with a reading from Jim Dickinson's memoir by Mary Lindsay Dickinson and a performance by Some Sons of Mudboy.
"That seemed like enough [live music]," Friedl says, but guest DJs will spin soul and punk records in the store throughout the day. And the store will have coffee and donuts for the early birds.
"We've got the usual batch of exclusive RSD releases that everybody's scrambling to get," Friedl says. The store is also releasing Golden Pelicans' Disciples of Blood LP on red vinyl. "We do have a secret release from NOTS that's only going to be available in the store and from the band," Friedl continues. "We were trying to figure out the best way to leak the word, but the NOTS Live at Goner [LP is being released for RSD]. We wanted to find a good way to release it, and tying it into RSD from the record store where it was recorded seemed pretty good." That's right; Goner's dropping a new, used-to-be-secret NOTS record this Saturday. And it's not the only new Memphis LP coming just in time for RSD. A smorgasbord of spring releases by groups with Memphis roots is bolstering the RSD exclusives.
Valerie June's The Order of Time led the blitz of spring releases, but hot on her heels were Dead Soldiers with The Great Emptiness, Chris Milam with Kids These Days, and Cory Branan's Adios. At the time of this writing, Milam and Branan's LPs are barely a week old, but Memphis-based psychedelic rockers Spaceface are dropping their debut LP Sun Kids on colored vinyl the day before RSD. Though the band strived to record something that felt organic and could be replicated live, there were a few guest appearances — the band invited Flyer favorite Julien Baker to give a guest vocal performance. "[It] has our friend Julien Baker on there. We knew she would kill it," Daniel Quinlan says.
With live music and new and exclusive releases from every genre, Memphis is primed to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Record Store Day. Whether it's the new NOTS or the new Spaceface, the pop perfection of Tall David, or the country-punk attack of Lucero, there's something to satisfy every listener. For a list of all Record Store Day releases, visit www.recordstoreday.com. Tall David at Shangri-La Records, Saturday, April 22nd at 2 p.m. Free.