by Alan Haber
It’s after lunch on this sunny Saturday, sometime after the regular crowd shuffles in to the various quick- and long-stop eateries along Frederick Road in Catonsville, Maryland. A woman, probably in her late thirties, maybe her early forties, walks carefully around the tight corners and through the narrow walkways separating the fully-stocked shelves and displays populating Objects Found, a neighborhood antique store within which shiny, happy jewelry pieces and Elvis Presley collectibles sit happily side by side in nooks and crannies and behind glass doors in crowded cases.
The woman, looking here and over there, but not too far afield, is hearing the songs played through the store’s audio system, and they are coming one after the other and, what with her looking for just the right item or items to bring home, wrapped in tissue paper and put in bags at the counter, it is hard to distinguish one song from the other, but as if by some magical means, one song catches the woman’s ear and burrows into it. “Crazy,” the woman sings, “I’m crazy for feeling so lonely.” Whether she knows it or not, the woman is singing something approaching a duet with Patsy Cline; the woman matches Patsy word for word, perhaps not exactly in meter or in key, but she is right on the button with her.
“I’m crazy, crazy for feeling so blue…” All the while, as the melody flows through her, her face never betrays the feeling; she knows the song, has lived with that song for at least a time; maybe she heard it when she was growing up or discovered it at a friend’s house. Maybe she heard it on the radio, on some country station or oldies outlet. It doesn’t matter; she knows that song, and the act of singing it as she is shopping for something to cherish, however large or small, means that she cherishes the song, too. And then, as “Crazy” fades into another song that perhaps doesn’t strike a chord with her, the woman stops singing and moves forward through the store; a ring or a doll that looks vaguely Victorian is calling out to her, the way that music, the way that particular songs call out to people and burrow in and, really, what can you do about that other than sing along?
There was a lot of singing along, mostly, probably, silently, and tapping of feet at the famed Catonsville depot for vinyl records old and new and newer still on this Saturday in April, round about mid-month, just after tax day–a beautiful day, with the temperature rolling around the 80-degree mark; a day when even Fido could cool off with a tasty drink; shirt-sleeve weather delighting passersby and record geeks and music fans and folks who love the oldies or the latest hits or some kind of thing in between; people both young and older; people whose high-end sound systems can blow the roof off of their houses and their neighbors’ houses, and people with entry-level, all-in-one turntable systems; people for whom only the finest vinyl pressings will do and those who aren’t quite so fussy.
All of these people are gathered at Trax on Wax in Catonsville, Maryland at about 11:30 in the morning, gathered together as one like-minded group, even if they don’t know it, snapping up the special Record Store Day releases and thumbing through the stacks that house upwards of somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 albums, give or take. Even a stack of old Golden Record 45s and other single delights shines brightly with one entitled Happy Birthday on top; the record inside of the brightly colored sleeve, depicting a kids’ party complete with lit candles on a festive cake, has part one of “Happy Birthday” on the a-side and part two on the b-side. The record, which advertises on the back of the sleeve other Golden Records–“3 Little Golden Records on a 45 RPM EP – 6 Songs and Famous Littles on Both 78 RPM and 45 RPM”–features the song stylings of the Sandpipers and Mitch Miller and his Orchestra and is from about 1960, when it could be had for a measly 29 cents. The Famous Littles were priced slightly higher in Canada–35 cents, to be exact. “Ask for the Fabulous Golden LP records, only $1.98 ea.” You could get a lot for so little back in the day.
But these Golden treasures, stacked on the floor in the back of the store, were only the tip of a very large iceberg; rock, pop, jazz, specialty, soul, comedy and just about anything you could want ruled the day and lined the shelves. Special Record Store Day releases were displayed on the walls to the left of Trax’s entrance.
Amidst the Record Store day chatter, you could probably hear people saying, “Hey, there’s the Sly and the Family Stone live album recorded at the Fillmore and never released until now!”, “Man, I love the White Stripes!”, or “Those Kinks EPs look rather tasty!” And “Do you have–” Well, that was probably the number one question asked of Trax on Wax owner Gary Gebler and his manager Jeff Ball and the other knowledgeable, passionate-about-music-just-like-you folks working that day. It was a day all about family; it was a day all about people who like the feeling they get when they are around other music and vinyl fans, people who grew up with the sounds of music and carried those deeply-set feelings through adulthood and people who just discovered the joy of holding a record album in their hands, of looking at people-sized artwork and included posters and stickers and full credits that tell you who played what and twiddled the knobs in the studio.
It was a day about the extended family of vinyl hounds and casual music fans converging on the little store that does in Catonsville, and, really, it was a day of getting together and turning each other on to some band or singer or spoken word artist who really rings the magic bell time and time again. It was a day of joy for David Harris, a collector of records played on fine audio equipment who knows what’s what, who is like a moth drawn to a flame when color pressings are in his sights; a man who lives and breathes music and for whom vinyl is a way of life–a man who talks about his favorite records and vinyl finds and lights up with such strength that he could probably power a city like Las Vegas, if such a thing were possible.
For David Harris, vinyl is king, as he explains in the following interview:
The first 45 that Gwen Mister owned was “Shop Around” by the Miracles (actually, by the Miracles featuring Bill “Smokey” Robinson, as the credits read on the Tamla single label). Gwen was at Trax on Wax looking for Record Store Day releases such as the 180 gram mono pressing of the Doors’ Strange Days album, which she found and proudly shows off in the picture at left.
In a perfect world, if you looked in the dictionary under “dedicated music fan,” you would probably find a photo of Miss Mister. A retired accountant, who used to study the violin and loves Diana Ross, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Motown, Grace Slick, Bonnie Raitt and, perhaps most especially, John Lennon, Miss Mister is a gracious and dedicated music fan, as is obvious by listening to the following interview:
In a perfect world, and this world of vinyl hounds and fans of Diana Ross and fans of just plain good music is about as perfect as it gets, every day would be Record Store Day–that is, a day to visit local, independent record stores to visit with the staff, talk to the owner, greet the day with a new vinyl find and pledge to come back again soon now, you hear?
For Gary Gebler of Trax on Wax, Record Store Day 2015 was as perfect a day as he has had the pleasure to experience. Listen to Gary wax poetic:
On April 18, 2015, a sunny day, a beautiful day along Frederick Road in Catonsville, Maryland, at the center, the hub of vinyl experience for vinyl hounds and music fans who know what’s what and what’s up and what to look for in a sea of treasures, Record Store Day shone. It was a crazy day, a great day, a day that will stand among other days that came before and will come after. This day, this quite sunny and spectacular day, will be remembered by the people who were there. These people will play their records and think back to this day, and next year, around the same time, they will hope for sunny skies still, but really, really, it’s all a state of mind; every day is a sunny day when the music is playing and the beat, ultimately, will go on.
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Trax on Wax, in Catonsville, Maryland, is the official record store of Pure Pop Radio. When in the Baltimore area, we recommend that you make Trax on Wax your number one vinyl destination. Visit Trax on Wax’s website by clicking here.