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Road Trip

July 14, 2012

Howdy All,

I took an opportunity to take some time away from Record Collector News World Headquarters (RCNWHQ) and headed up to Oregon to, personally, distribute the May/June issue.  (Moody Blues cover). I hit the road in a rental car with a trunk full of papers and a fist full of CD’s to sweeten the ride. After 5 days on the road, I had devoured 26 record stores. This was my first time driving above Sacramento and it was a great trip.

My first stop was for a bowl of Anderson’s Split Pea Soup in Santa Nella. It’s perfect travel food, both nutritious AND delicious.

North of Redding is uncharted territory for me and right around Weed, California the road takes a bend and there in front of you is the 14,000 thousand foot, Mount Shasta in all its volcanic splendor.

After 11 hours I ducked into Ashland as I was done driving for the day. Ashland’s a really tiny town yet, it has not one, but two, record stores! As both CD or not CD and Music Coop were closed for the night, I concentrated on food and shelter. I found a room at the really cool Palm Cottages motel. (palmcottages.com) For $65, it was super clean and downright cozy.

         

Next day, around 10am, I delivered papers.  One of the stores, Music Coop, is the son of a store that started in Petaluma, CA in 1975. That one has served Petaluma and the North Bay area for 27 years, people.

In 2001 husband and wife John and Trina Brenes relocated to their favorite getaway town, Ashland, Oregon when, eleven years later, I stumbled upon their store. It’s one of those institutions that’s all about the music. The selection is way too deep for a town the size of Ashland. John is extremely knowledgeable about the music of New Orleans. In fact, he worked on compilations for Rhino starting with the Neville Brothers “Treacherous” — a record that kinda changed my life by turning me onto the Neville’s and started me down a musical route that took me all the way to Louis Armstrong. Music Coop would be a goldmine anywhere. That it’s in the idyllic Ashland is a blessing for idyllic Ashland. Traveling north, or south, on Interstate 5 this summer? Don’t miss Music Coop, 181 A Street Ashland, OR 97520. Rating – E — for Essential.

Continuing north on highway 5, I hit Listen Here and Vinyl Revolutions in Grant’s Pass. Both stores are worth the detour off the freeway. Also, I was able to have lunch with John Tefteller himself and check out one of his three, or so, warehouses in the area. So yes people, I am a witness. I can testify. Stacks of mint, unplayed Edison 78’s? Yup. Any more questions?

Eugene is home to House of Records and CD World. House of Records is a house – of Records. It should be called House of Tons of Records.

By the end of the second day I was in Portland –truly a great city–with somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 record stores. No one really knows because, at any given moment, someone is either opening a store, moving a store, closing a store or, maybe, just opening a store on an irregular basis. So, it’s kind of a moving target. A handy publication up there is the annual “Portland Guide to Independent Record & CD Stores” with a nice little map. Most record stores up there pretty much have it.

Downtown Portland, I was able to visit one of the two Jackpot Records locations, 360 Vinyl, and 2nd Avenue Records. All essential.

In the Southeast quadrant, you’ve got 10 record stores. It’s mandatory to stop by Crossroads Music, Exiled Records, SMUT (So Many Unique Treasures), Sonic Recollections and Jackpot Records (Jackpot is celebrating their 15th anniversary, so they must be doing something right) and Music Millennium.

                         

You MUST go to Music Millennium. Open in the same location since 1969. I know of only one other record store open since 1969 and that is Sound Spectrum in Laguna Beach. OTTO has owned it since 1969. Anyway, MM is a one of a kind. Any city would be lucky to have a store like it. With room after room of CD’s and Vinyl, it’s an amazing selection with some of the nicest people anywhere working there. Music Millennium is the kind of place you can dig around in for hours. It reminds me of the old Either Or Bookstore in Hermosa Beach as it of goes on, and on, from room to room, from genre to genre and format to format. This is possibly the most comfortable record store, I’ve encountered, anywhere.

Up in the North quadrant, I found Mississippi Records. Let me say this about that: Have you ever watched the TV show Portlandia? You know the Women’s Book Store and the characters within? Mississippi Records is the record store version of that. Hysterically hip…with lots of attitude. You won’t find Record Collector News there as they asked us to stop delivering them last year. It’s just awesome that there’s a store out there with that much attitude. Nuff said.

Now, to the Northeast quadrant. The most essential store is Jump Jump Music. Trust me. Dive in there. The owner, Dan, is as knowledgeable about records, especially soul, as anyone I’ve ever met. I mentioned I was a Zappa fan and he immediately pulled out an esoteric 45 I had never heard of before –but bought pretending that I had. I looked it up when I got home. DEEEEEP stuff: Bustin’ Surfboards by The Tornadoes on Aertaun Records. Frank’s first time mixing at the boards in PAL Studios

Everyday Music and Ranch Records are small Pacific Northwest record store chains with a few outlets in the Portland area that carry lots of CD’s and vinyl. They’re real record stores. Strange how not one of the 100, or so, independent record stores in Southern California has bothered with more than one location and in Northern California we have Amoeba with 3 locations, Rasputin with like 10 locations, And in the Pacific Northwest Jackpot has 2 locations, Everyday Music has 5 locations, Ranch Records has 3 locations, and Silver Platters and Easy Street. Now, even with 10 locations in California, I consider Rasputin to be independent. As long as they’re not publicly traded or owned by another company, they’re independent.

The guys at Jackpot Records in Downtown Portland turned me onto Echo Audio, a hi-fi store that not only serves the audiophile looking for the newest and best. They are geared up and super knowledgeable when it comes to entry level turntables, cartridges, and systems. Don’t go out and pay hundreds on a turntable until you see these guys first. They’ll take great care of you. And they have really cool, and reasonably priced–maybe even underpriced–used equipment.

Summing up, Oregon is a record diggers paradise. Portland is the smallest, coolest, biggest little city I’ve ever been in. Oregonians support the shit out of their record stores. And so should you! From Music Millennium and Jackpot Records to Crossroads Records to Jump Jump Records, you gotta get digging into Portland record stores this summer. Great deals too. Everywhere I went it seemed like I saw $15.99 records for $6.99. Get out to Oregon, if only for the record stores. Look For RCN there. And, don’t miss Ashland.

Peace and love,

Jim Kaplan – Record Collector News

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 18, 2014 9:26 pm

    Nice blog Jim.
    Best, Gary
    Hi 5 Stereo

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