The Stroumboulopouli

The Stroumboulopouli

The place to get the latest news on what’s coming up on #Gtonight. Find out what Canada’s boyfriend is up to. Share stories, pictures, favourite tv and radio episodes.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

For the Love of Music. International Record Store Day - April 19th

As even a casual viewer would recognize, George and The Hour are fervent supporters of music. Good music anyway - because what would ‘The News’ be without the occasional well placed shot at Fergie, Celine or Matchbox 20? So far in the Junos pre-telecast awards the exquisite Jully Black, Feist and Arcade Fire were notable winners!

Whether George is interviewing a musician, encouraging you Drop a Disc, mentioning a great new band or reveling in the talent of a pioneer of the Delta blues like David ‘Honeyboy’ Edwards - music and the joy in the discovery, celebration and sharing the love of music is an ever present force. Of course, not only on The Hour, but each Sunday night on the Strombo Show.

The most resonant discussions are often those that focus not as much on the musician’s art, how they express their passion in song or even what informs their process. It’s often the unexpected conversation about family and their passions outside of music – especially humanitarian efforts. Raine and Chantal’s WarChild experiences, RZA’s commitment to becoming a Chess Grand Master or perhaps Dave Grohl’s effusive conversations about fatherhood that are most compelling.

Interviews this week past featuring Sheryl Crowe, John Cusack and George's plug for a very cool CBC Radio3 initiative triggered this post. I also rewatched High Fidelity - John Cusack’s amazing 2000 film based on the Nick Hornby novel.

In a candid moment on Monday, Sheryl spoke to the question of censorship of art and addressed her battle with Walmart. The retailer refused to carry her self titled disc based on their objection to lyrics critical of their liberal gun sale policies "Watch our children as they kill each other with a gun they bought at Wal-Mart discount stores." She refused to compromise and they didn’t carry the album – forfeiting countless sales. Years ago Nirvana changed a song title on ‘In Utero’ from “Rape Me" to "Waif Me" for their Wal-Mart version. A big deal? Yes. Sadly, the Big Box influence is massive.

So to John Cusack and High Fidelity…a flick centred on a 30 something indie record store owner with an eclectic clientele and quirky/rude/musically elitist employees. Who didn’t love this exchange between Barry (Jack Black’s character) and an unsuspecting customer?

Customer: Hi, do you have the song “I Just Called to Say I Love You?” It’s for my daughter’s birthday.

Barry: Yeah, we have it.

Customer: Great, great – can I have it?

Barry: No, no – you can’t.

Customer: Why not?

Barry: Well, it’s sentimental tacky crap. Do we look like the kind of store that sells I Just Called to Say I Love You? Go to the Mall.”

Yes.. a shameless segue to tell you about a competition on CBC Radio 3. Through ‘Searchlight’ they are on a quest to find the best independent record store in Canada. Click HERE to see if your local shop is on the top 10 and vote. On April 9th the top 5 vote getters will be announced and will battle it out until International Record Store Day on Saturday, April 19th.

You may be thinking… International Record Store Day? Who buys records anymore? Why should I care? I download all my music. Might I suggest that YOU are missing out. Check out the website for events and participating retailers in your area.

I still choose to buy CD's. I love the tangible nature, the sound quality is superior to downloads, they often have great art and my favourite thing ever - liner notes. I am a liner note fanatic. I also choose to pay for my music through retail or from the numerous merch tables I've haunted over the years. With friends and family who make their living from music I do my part by going to live shows and buying discs - particularly those of emerging artists who may just be getting started. It's critical to pay for music from artists you truly love who may have been around but haven't achieved the mainstream commercial success they deserve.

Once a week, I receive an e-newsletter from friends who own a great indie music store called Cheeky Monkey in Sarnia Ontario. The newsletter is put together with great care and love... it tells me who's releasing new stuff, who's playing live across Ontario and Michigan. Indie stores also have some amazing in store events that you should check out. Cheeky Monkey has a great mutimedia event with acclaimed photojournalist Larry Towell coming up on April 25th. I bet YOUR local store always has something amazing going on!

Cheeky Monkey’s owners are a great couple - passionate, supportive of emerging artists and above all - they KNOW music. They care if you like what you buy unlike people at chains where the person behind the counter couldn't tell you shit unless they can 'find it on the computer'. If the artist or music isn't listed on the magical computer it must not be worthy of your time. NOT the case as a true music lover can tell you... the joy is in the discovery of something new or different. Something real. Something truly inspired.

You can decompress by having a wander through your local indie shop, have a passionate debate or dialogue about music, compare notes on what shows you’ve just seen and what shows you're off to next. It's a community within a community.

Electronic distribution of music is the new normal and I do find new faves online. Friends from around the world turn me on to new sounds via Myspace and Facebook. Still, I can't think of a better way to spend some rare free moments than by browsing around a real record store.

Big box stores are increasingly getting involved in exclusive marketing deals with big name artists. This move hurts indie stores and the bottom line of their businesses - the very people who've promoted and pushed their merchandise for decades. They also make it tougher for smaller artists to make their mark and deprive people who crave something other than the mainstream. One such deal with The Eagles' last release where independent stores could not carry the disc for a year was a perfect example. The realities of retail – especially for indie stores is they do have to carry and move some mainstream stuff that is perhaps not their cup of tea.

So – check out and buy from your local indie shops and support live music… get off your laptops for a while - It’s worth the effort.

Nick Hornby - Author of High Fidelity says it so well...

"Yes, yes, I know. It's easier to download music, and probably cheaper. But what's playing on your favourite download store when you walk into it? Nothing, that's what. Who are you going to meet in there? Nobody. Where are the notice boards offering flatshares and vacant slots in bands destined for superstardom? Who's going to tell you to stop listening to that and start listening to this? Go ahead and save yourself a couple of quid. The saving will cost you a career, a set of cool friends, musical taste and, eventually, your soul. Record stores can't save your life. But they can give you a better one."

I couldn’t agree more. How about YOU? What new discoveries have you made at your local shop lately? Is buying music passé? Share your thoughts …and don’t stop sharing your love of music.


Anonymous said...


Tracy said...

Anon - Your brevity is refreshing.
Thanks for reading! :)

aussiedave said...

Absolutely with you on this, Tracy. The independent record shops really helped shape my musical taste, and it's always an adventure to visit.

The first time, for example, I ever heard Ron Sexsmith, it was at an instore appearance at Basement Discs in Melbourne.

I love walking into an indie record store and hearing this amazing music that just doesn't get any airplay at the majors. Old-school funk, garage, folk, jazz, you-name-it, all get equal time on the air, and can really set your mood for the rest of the day.

Looking forward to celebrating International Record Store day here in Melbourne next Saturday. :)

Thanks for a really interesting read, Tracy.


Tracy said...


Thanks so much for your comment.
I am so there with your admiration of Ron Sexsmith. In stores are fabulous - especially when the artist has real talent! Glad you'll be celebrating International Record Store Day Down Under.


Jenuine said...

Excellent piece on indie record shops!
I credit my eclectic love for music to such stores and will always be grateful for the experiences. Everything about them, was such a draw for my friends & I during my teen years & early 20's.
Fresh new music, legendary rock n' roll classics, & obscure off-the-beaten-track bands. Hours & hours of listening in on passionate debates over music history, getting the scoop on local shows, and having the fortunate opportunities to listen to impromptu jam sessions with the regulars. The familiar smell of vinyl, pot, and dusky carpet was all part of the social scene we became a part of.
(Not to mention the alluring captivation of so many dark, brooding boys in leather jackets, metal jewelery & mohawks or long hair.) *sigh*
Getting booted out by the staff was always great fun too, for not always buying something & horribly harassing them from time to time.
Misspent youth? Perhaps....but, a love for music that just never went away.

Hopefully our society can preserve these gems, and open the eyes & ears of generations yet to come.

Tracy said...

Good times, Jenuine ;)

What could be better than the opportunity to develop your musical taste surrounded by brooding boys? *sigh* The bad boys were always the best. Some still are.

Misspent youth... nah. Any time spent in an indie store? Time well spent. You learned about history of music. Got to know the roots to appreciate where we're going.

Nick McKinlay said...


I am an eighteen year-old living in Sarnia and I just wanted to thank you for mentioning my favourite building in town on this blog. It really is one of those rare businesses (in Sarnia, at least) that takes the time to listen to its patrons and help them out. In fact i can go in there and ask for something new and exciting and I'll immeadiately be handed an album by an artistr I've never heard of and 10/10 times I'll love it. Besides having the best selection in town and the best service, Cheeky is a keyplayer in keeping our downtown arts community alive and kicking, and the Mike Stevens/ Larry Towell event this saturday is only going to be further solidify that fact. Thanks again for recognizing these unsung heroes in the music industry.

P.S. Roland and Marianne have cultivated a Rain Dogs borrowed interest in Tom Waits to a full blown discography owning obesession, and in that way way Cheeky Monkey has literally changed my life.

Tracy said...


You're 18 and into Tom Waits? Hmmm. Roland's handiwork no doubt.

Indie stores like Cheeky Monkey are indeed important to local communities around the world. It's up to us to drop a few bucks and keep them in business!

Good on you Nick! Thanks for taking the time to read and post.