This is a first. I don’t queue up for stuff often, unless beer’s involved. This Record Store Day however, I’ve got the fever. Doing due diligence the day before, I determine that The Sound Garden, Baltimore’s finest record store, would be the sage bet. As I called around, most stores were helpful with information. A couple of them were cryptic, one to the point of saying “we don’t do that (share info).” Hmm. To me that’s a non-starter, but anyway…
It’s a gray and misty morning in the Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore. I arrive at roughly 7:45am, the store opening at 9. The line begins to turn the block but it’s fairly spread out. Six folks ahead of me, a gentleman wears a Def Leppard shirt. This gets my wheels turning. You see, The Def Leppard E. P. is one of the two key releases that brought me out today. This is either a good thing or a bad thing seeing as a) he’s confident enough to stand in line this deep for, one would assume, Def Leppard, or b) for the next hour or so I’ll be staring at the guy who’s going to get the last copy.
The other key vinyl slab is 17-11-70+, a reissue of the incendiary live record from Elton John, the complete show on one release for the first time. This is the one that took me over the edge, as far as the desire to get out and partake this morning.
I’ve only been to a record store on “their” day once, and it was a pretty casual visit at that. My general feeling is it’ll be too crowded, have an “amateur day” vibe, and be composed mainly of stuff that can be easily attained elsewhere after the fact. As it turns out that not may not be the case. Some RSD (Record Store Day) titles go for high premiums on secondary markets (flippers-people bash ‘em, but hey-‘Muricah).
As the line approached the large tent in the store’s parking lot (a great way to do it), I could see that my Def Leppard line-mate was inside, E. P. in hand. Great! But wait. A lady just grabbed one for herself as well. This is getting serious. Now next in line, I check with a staffer. “Elton John?” “Gone.” Damn. I’m going straight to the D’s. Once inside the vinyl oasis, I grab an All Time Low for my kid (keep in mind-it’s alphabetical), grab the last Def Leppard EP, spy a single Cheap Trick Epic Archives left, one that I thought would be too pricey (it wasn’t-snag!), turn, make my away around to the J’s, double checking with another staffer that Elton has indeed left the building (“we only got 5”), so I go to my “B” list and snag a Magpie Salute (Black Crowes alumni without that pesky Chris Robinson). Already in my mind, I know I’m driving across town to chase down Elton at another store, so I make my way to the register.
In line to pay, I finally strike up some chatter, saying hello to Def Leppard guy, to whom I mentioned that my #1 want was Elton John. He points to the guy behind and says, “him too.” Chatting with Elton guy, he mentions a place on his way home might have it, to which I reply, “we’re about to race across town to Trax On Wax (Ellicott City, MD), aren’t we?” We have a laugh and wish other luck. This is actually fun!
It’s about 9:55am now, and stop number two opens at 10, and is 20 minutes away. I think to myself, “this is doable,” and set off in my Sorento. Driving west through Baltimore, the whole thing has an “Amazing Race” quality to it.
I arrive at Trax On Wax at 10:15, securing a spot out front. There’s a line still waiting to get in! A good omen! The line is short enough, as the gray skies finally yield some drizzle. I ask the gentleman in front of me what he’s here for, to which he replied, you guessed it, “Elton John.” My heart sank. Then, he says “it’s for my dad.” Aw jeez, I give him props and we have a chuckle about it. I look a few spots in line behind me and there’s my Elton seeking line mate from across town. I call out, “guess what he’s here for,” motioning my thumb to the good son in front of me. We all smile and shake our heads.
As we near the doorway, where the store owner was proudly greeting folk, we discuss checking stats before entering the scrum. “Elton John?” “Yup, we’ve got some up there on the left.” Some?!? You mean more than one?!? This is gonna happen! There they are, one for the good son, one for me, and… I hesitantly grab one for the guy behind me, then realizing I can’t do that, I look toward the doorway where I spot him. We exchange an excited thumbs up. I flash him the peace sign indicating two left! Did I mention this is fun?
I get in line to pay, and bask in the glory of the in hand 17-11-70+. Now more relaxed, I’m able to soak in all the other happy record store goers. It’s kind of like Christmas morning, except your not wearing pajamas, and you’re in a record store. I see our third and final Elton seeker has secured his copy, the last one at that! He tells me, “I had to watch the owner point out the Elton John’s to someone already in the store! This was high drama, folks!
I can’t tell you how happy I was making my way home. There was a real sense of camaraderie amongst people, all unified in our geekdom. If you’ve avoided the early morning Record Store Day craziness, do yourself a favor. Peruse a list for next time, pick a few faves, and get out there and do it. The joy is palpable. Oh, and that Elton record? Like a warm, fuzzy blanket.
Dave “El Duave” Peers is a dad, husband, son, brother, music store owner, radio guy, musician, writer, and complete fanboy.