The tethered edges of a 16’’ vinyl sleeve, coated with the smell of a darkened garage, carry decades of history. Each bit of wear and tear signifies someone’s enjoyment, and the sounds emitted from the record as it spins on the turntable encapsulate a personable richness lost in the digital age. The burgeoning scene of record enthusiasts harken back to the days in which one experienced the totality of an artist’s work, rather than a quick download of a single song.
Record Store Day (RSD) aims to celebrate this reminiscent movement. It strives to acknowledge the heroes behind the counter at neighborhood record stores—people who have faces and names, and aren’t just nameless corporate robots.The day will showcase the customer-retailer bond, as record-store clerks thrive off of knowing a patron’s taste, and offering new music they might enjoy. The worldwide event finds a local incarnation at Wilmington’s very own Gravity Records on Castle Street. Taking place Saturday, April 19th, the day will see a plethora of giveaways, special releases and musical performances.
Gravity Records found its footing in the port city about 10 years ago and has been acknowledging the annual event ever since. The music hub boasts a collection ranging from classics like The Smiths’ “The Queen is Dead” to new renderings such as the Alabama Shakes’ “Boys & Girls.”
“Gravity Records started when Matt Keen, former manager of one-time Wilmington record store Manifest Discs & Tapes, decided to open a new record store—one [which] focused on individuals, and their needs and musical likes, well-curated and not oriented toward the Top 40 market,” Lindsey Zimecki, Keen’s wife, explains.
A trained violinist since he was 3 years old, Keen’s dedication to the music industry shines through, In fact, he’s only worked in record stores throughout his life. Keen keeps the shop stocked with CDs, DVDs, new and pre-owned albums, through customer trades or Keen’s own search efforts.
“We strive to bring good music—locally, nationally, and internationally—to Wilmington and to help Wilmingtonians to get their music fix,” Zimecki elaborates. “We love turning people on.”
Record Store Day began in 2007 and continues to be celebrated the third Saturday of April. The day remains a unique way to focus soley on record stores in which 50 percent of the products are music retail, 70 percent of the store’s ownership is located within the state of operation, and the store cannot be publicly traded. Annually patrons line up outside of Gravity’s doors. Last year alone, there were over 200 eager attendees waiting outside at open, and nearly 500 people were there within the first hour.
“[It’s] amazing,” Zimecki tells. “There are hundreds of special, limited-edition music releases, and the line to get into the shop starts forming usually around 3 a.m.”
This year’s releases will include everything from The Everly Borthers’ “Roots” to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dragonfly/The Purple Dancer” to Conor Oberst’s “Hundreds of Ways/Fast Friends.” As well, there will be recordings by Katy Perry, Dolly Parton, Regina Spektor, Green Day, Tears for Fears, the Grateful Dead, Ray LaMontagne, Haim, and more. A full listing can be found on the event’s official website www.recordstoreday.com.
Gravity is utilizing Record Store Day to turn the attention back to other local businesses, too. They’ll be giving away gift certificates and merchandise from Front Street Brewery, Wilmington Wine, Luna Caffe, Surf City Surf Shop, Annex Surf Supply, and others. RSD also will be sending a batch of T-shirts, patches, slipmats, and the like to the event to be given out to participants. Likewise, Flaming Amy’s Sacred Burrito Bus will be parked out front from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. to feed hungry campers.
Gravity will host in-store shows, too, with local bands Mike Blair and the Stonewalls (noon), Phantom Playboys (1 p.m., in support of their new album, released that day), Astro Cowboy (2 p.m.), Deep Ecology (3 p.m.), and Free Clinic (4 p.m.).
The official events of the day will begin at 8 a.m. and continue 6 p.m. Free to all, the day simply stands to demonstrate appreciation for local record stores and commemorate and champion a special period of music history.
“[I love] seeing like-minded individuals come together to celebrate independent record stores and music,” Zimecki professes.
Record Store Day
Gravity Records • 612 Castle St.
Sat., April 19th, 7 p.m. • Free