Long Live The Independent Music Store

Vancouver and San Francisco sure have some amazing independent music stores and I made the most of them, as while I was away, I heard the news that Brisbane’s last bastion of independent music, Rocking Horse Records was in trouble.

These three stores blew my mind and my budget:

Red Cat Records:

Located out on the very cool Main St. drag, Red Cat is locally owned and run by artists and has a mighty fine catalogue of independent CD’s & vinyl, both new and second hand. While I was there I picked up a copy of Dark Developments by Vic Chesnutt & Elf Power with Amorphous Strums, Gone, a collection of Mono’s early EP’s & David Bazan’s self-titled album, none of which are easy to come by on these shores!

Here’s Vic with Elf Power blowing off some live steam:

Zulu Records:

Zulu have been flying the independent music flag in Vancouver since 1981. After discovering the wonders of their vast second hand catalogue in 2008 on my last visit to Vancouver, I couldn’t wait to get back and make my slow trawl through every CD. Nothing over $6 and boy did I pull out some gems… Vic ChesnuttNorth Star Deserter, TindersticksCurtains and Simple Pleasure and Jack Kerouac’s Readings on The Beat Generation (deluxe little fold out postcard packaging). For mine, the best independent music store in Vancouver.

Amoeba Records:

This place is like nothing I have ever seen… picture walking into a warehouse filled with every CD imaginable and you are pretty close to the mark. And the staff… incredibly knowledgeable and delightfully friendly. They even remove overly feisty customers (aka as aggressive & disorderly) in the most gentle manner. It is touted to be the World’s Largest Independent Music Store and I am a firm believer! If you have not yet found this place (they have a great mail order service as well), then prepare your wallet. I can’t even begin to list all of the discs we bought, but a couple of the real gems were Efrim Manuel Menuck Plays High Gospel, Tarentel’s (San Franciscan Instrumental Legends) Paper White and We Move Through Weather and the most amazing 4xCD box set, Howls, Raps & Roars, featuring Ginsberg, McClure, Meltzer, Ferlinghetti, Rexroth, Whalen, Welch & Lenny Bruce.

And speaking of David Meltzer, here he is reading at the launch of his latest book, When I Was A Poet at City Lights. It’s a pretty amazing 23minutes… we only just missed being able to be there, but more on City Lights in another post.

Needless to say, our stereo has a fine supply of music and poetry to get us through the winter (and then some!).



Filed under discussions, who listens to the radio?

8 responses to “Long Live The Independent Music Store

  1. Carmen Keates

    I am especially rattled by the Rockinghorse news, so just reading this post heartens me. Good people like good music stores! There was a lot of waffle (and some quite uncalled-for nastiness) on the Rockinghorse FB page saying that people bought online now anyway, so the store didn’t matter. So your post shows what the rest of us were tying to say — in our city, we want stores that we want to spend time in, search in, chat to great staff in!

    Thanks Graham.

    • gnunn

      It’s so true… I believe people crave the experience of being able to walk into a store and have that contact, that conversation, that moment of discovery. It’s the stuff memories are made of! So yes, long live the independent store and the physical product!

  2. I was sad to hear about Rocking Horse records 😦

  3. bd

    rip rockinghorse.

    we are poorer. now.

  4. Just read in todays paper that Rocking Horse has had a reprieve – yayayay – but for how long, we do not know.

  5. jb

    damn our need to go to vancouver and eat meat and bread!

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