Friday, November 24, 2023

Black Friday Record Store Day Adventures, 2023

My adventures this time around took me to just one store, and it was Licorice Pizza in Studio City. Usually I start my day at Freak Beat (when it is Record Store Day or Black Friday, that is, not just any day, but that actually would be nice, to be able to start every day at a record store), but there were two records that I absolutely had to have in my collection from the Black Friday list, and Freak Beat got only one of them in, while Licorice Pizza had them both. The records in question were both Jerry Garcia albums. The first, Pure Jerry: Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium, San Rafael, CA February 28, 1986, is limited to 7,500 copies, and this is the one that Freak Beat had. The second, So What, which is what I’m listening to at the moment (it is so good, Jerry jazz, you see, but of course the Dead really, in a sense, were all about jazz), was limited to only 2,400 copies and is the one I was more excited about (if I had to choose, which I didn’t, and that’s a relief), and this one Freak Beat did not get any copies of. Oh man, listen to that bass solo. That’s Jim Kerwin. I’m on the second track, “Bag’s Groove (take 5).” Anyway, rather than picking up the one record at Freak Beat and then later hoping to snag So What at either Licorice Pizza or Amoeba later in the day (which is what I would normally do), I decided to just begin my day at Licorice Pizza. I arrived a little before 6 a.m. The street was empty at that hour, except for a few cars all parked in a row at one point along Ventura Blvd., and of course those cars belonged to the six people already in line. I pulled in behind them, grabbed my chair, and set up. Seventh in line. Not bad. But I wasn’t sure how many copies of each of the Garcia releases the store had, so after a moment I started talking to those ahead of me in line. Good folks. We all had different tastes in music, which made things easier for all. No one in line was getting the Garcia records. (The first side of this double album ended, and rather than flip the record over, I am listening to this first side again, wanting to really dig into it, you understand.) So I felt a bit more calm. Word had it they would let ten people in at a time, and then it’s sort of a free-for-all, so I had to check in with whoever might get in line behind me too. But it was a while before anyone else arrived. It was 7:30 a.m. when the next few people showed up, so of course I thought how I could have gotten another hour of sleep. No matter. None of those three was getting Jerry Garcia. We got to talking about music, about concerts, about concert ticket prices, and how things have changed since the days when I first started attending shows in the early 1980s. Some of you might remember that time, before the internet, before tiered ticket pricing, back when ticket fees were one dollar per ticket, back when Ticketmaster did not have a monopoly on things. Back when we waited out in line for tickets, and those at the front of the line would be at the front of the venue for the show. Sort of like waiting in line for Record Store Day releases, folks getting to know each other, talking about their passion for music, for certain bands. This is one of the places where we can still get a taste of the old days, twice a year. By 8 o’ clock, there were several more people in line. And it was then we all had to feed the meters, which begin at 8. My meter at first did not register that I had placed a couple of quarters in it, and then the green light flashed, but the screen was black, so I had no idea how much time I had. I put more quarters in, probably more than were needed, and got back in line. Everyone in front of me had chairs too, but as it was getting closer to the time the store would open, some folks were already on their feet.

Side 2 is on now, and there is a picture of Jerry on the label in the center of the record on this side. A nice touch, a nice surprise. The vinyl, by the way, is classic black, like Jerry’s T-shirt. At 8:30, I put my chair and backpack in my car, put another quarter in the meter (just to be safe), and went to stand with the others. It was a few minutes after 9 when the door opened. But I was stopped from going in. Only five at a time, I was told. She had miscounted, because six people were in there. The seven of us had planned on helping each other find what each wanted, and one of the women in the store held up the Grateful Dead boxed set for me to see. I thanked her, but said I couldn’t afford that (wish I could). Soon I was let in, and new friends handed me both Garcia albums. Now it was time to casually go through the stacks to see if I wanted to get anything else. Of course I wanted a lot of other records, but because of the Hollywood strike I haven’t worked in months and really shouldn’t be buying anything right now, and also I have no room in my apartment (as my girlfriend likes to remind me – where do I plan on putting more records? No idea). I did really want to get the new Aimee Mann seven-inch, but the store got only one copy, and the guy who was first in line grabbed it. I did get my hands on several things from my wish list, but one-by-one put them back, until I had just the Garcia records and The Monkees record in my hands. Oh man, the musicians are cooking on this song, “Milestones.” I am so glad I got this record. Anyway, The Monkees record for sale was the band’s first album, which I own on cassette, on CD, in a CD boxed set, and on vinyl. I certainly did not need another copy of it. But The Monkees were my first favorite band, from the time I was six years old, and my appreciation and love of their music has only grown in the years since then, so of course I bought it. I think this is my third vinyl copy of it, maybe fourth. Don’t judge me.

The gatefold for this Jerry Garcia record has some thoughts from David Grisman, Ornette Coleman and Bruce Hornsby, along with pictures of some of Jerry’s artwork. It’s a really nice package. I keep hoping that Ornette Coleman record with Jerry playing on a few tracks will be re-issued one Record Store Day. I didn’t buy that record (Virgin Beauty) on its initial release, and wish I had. It seems like something that deserves a special release and would get enough interest from collectors to make it worth it. Well, it seemed that those other people in line got everything (or nearly everything) they wanted, for everyone was smiling. Buying some special record releases has that sort of effect. Everyone was excited to get home and start listening to records. I got very little sleep last night, but have no desire to make up for it now. There is a lot more great music to listen to before I consider something resembling sleep.

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