On the rare Saturday I find myself free from my part-time job, waking to an alarm is unexpected. I had crept through the quiet house, going about the morning routine of feeding our five animals and fixing the coffee, all while trying to make little noise so as not to wake Kristin. Even our pets relax on Saturdays, having returned to their various sleeping positions now that their breakfast was done. I, however, had other plans. The day is Record Store Day.
Founded in 2007, Record Store Day is an annual event and a constant movement to showcase the appreciation of not just vinyl, but of music, the listening experience, and the community that comes from it. Today, we would be granted with special events at the variety of music stores we are lucky enough to have in our region, from Ignition Garage in Goshen, to Orbit Music in Mishawaka, 3 Pillars Music in Benton Harbor, and back to Rumor Has It right here in Niles.
The day is fueled by special releases by artists, with exclusive tracks and special editions of classic releases. I had no particular items on my wishlist this year, instead departing with a plan to take in the experience, dig through the libraries of each store, and enjoy that sense of music community.
The morning mood was still quiet as I headed down the rode for Benton Harbor, so I opted to start with listening to a podcast on my journey. The subject was still music however, as I was listening to Bob Boilen, one of the hosts of NPR's All Songs Considered, reading a segment of his new book, “Your Song Changed My Life,” describing his childhood encounters with the songs of The Beatles and the path of music that became his life. The book, which has each chapter focusing on a song, an artist, and how it affected them, was right at home in the spirit of the holiday.
I arrived at 3 Pillars to the lovely sight of limited parking and a sizable crowd already deep into the shelves and racks of music. Jeremy Bonfiglio, one of our local writers and go-to people for regional music, greeted me from behind the counter with “Happy Record Store Day!” Store proprietor, Tom Ives, was conversing with all of his customers, offering up coffee and donuts to the music-hunting crowd. I regularly interrupted my crouching on the ground while digging through record crates to chat with friends old and new. By the time I walked out of the store with my new collection of music, I had caught up with peers from high school and shared stories with strangers.
The sun had gotten high and the temperature along with it when I loaded into my car and headed for the next stop. The time for music had come, so I loaded up one of my recent favorites, the album “No Better” by Kalamazoo's Jake Simmons & The Little Ghosts. By the time I was off the bypass, I had “Toledo” blasting far too loud, singing along to “ooh whoa oh ohs” without a care for the looks from passing cars.
Outside of Rumor Has It in Niles, I encounter a family I had just seen at 3 Pillars. A crowd awaits the store's opening, standing on the sidewalk browsing boxes of records and CDs while Red Hot Voodoo is warming up to perform inside. The crowd is eager when the doors finally open, filling the store in seconds while the live music takes off on stage. Store owner, Matt Shaver, has only a moment to chat as he rings up my purchases, smiling at the crowd and the music on stage.
When I finally arrive home, Kristin is not surprised by the collection I purchased or the fact that I broke my Record Store Day budget. I show her my prizes and recount the stories and fun of the day. As I reflect, I realize that the most exciting aspect of the event is that the experiences I had go beyond the exclusive albums and “one-day-only” specials. Step into any of the stores I have listed on any day of the year and you will likely find an experience similar to those I had today.
If you have yet to visit the stores mentioned, you can find information on each online. 3 Pillars has a website at 3pillarsmusic.com, Ignition Garage has one at ignitionmusic.net, and Rumor Has It and Orbit Music can be found on Facebook at facebook.com/RumorStore and facebook.com/Orbit-Music-In-Mishawaka-214530328567785.