Tuesday, February 19, 2008

the fall of the vinyl civilization and Farewell to Record Time in Ferndale


"Video killed the radio star, but MP3's killed my record store…"

So sang Carjack. (picutred) in a new song he'd written just in time for his in-store concert at Record Time of Ferndale, part of a requiem-series of performances that have been warming the cozy wax-filled rectangular space throughout these winter months.


(both photos^ by Brandon Zarb)

The whole digital downloading-as-technological terror is starting to hit home, as this Ferndalian-fixture (since 1999) is forced to close its doors in the face of a losing battle against the rising tide of mouse-clicking listeners who have found out other ways to get music from the comfort of their basements - and for free! It's an unholy one-two punch of technology and the (Michigan) economy closing this beloved wax beacon nestled in the heart of downtown Ferndale. Maybe not as cool as the Record Graveyard or People's, or as expansive as Car City, but an admirable source with lots of rich history.

It just emphasizes what we are losing, especially compounded by the fact that People's Records was almost lost during a fire last month. (It remains alive, however, with a re-opening on the horizion, temporarily operating outta' Brad's basement on Third St. and Antoinette)

"It's just the way of the world," said Ferndale assistant-manager Vince Patricola, "it's either adapt or get mulled over. Our Roseville store is still gonna be there--we'll be strong. I know I speak for all of us when, we (Ferndale staff) wanna say thank you to all the people who came and supported us through the years."

So grows the rift between listener-generations - those who fell in love with music because of a tangible experience, a one-on-one with wax that took you weeks to find (and sharing it with friends,) and then those who download it digitally for free, listening to music distractedly through computers or plug their iPods into their cars.

"It's sad because we made a lot of friends," said Record Time (Ferndale)'s affably mellow manager (since '99) Lavell Williams, "It's not just that they're customers - but they became friends."

Indeed, Ferndale may be a fairly artsy, open minded, nostalgia-appreciating town, but it is also the kind of community where people are likely to embrace technology. "I don't think anybody wants to see us hurt or condense to one store," said Owner Mike Hime, "It's a hard one to fight."
Along with in-store concerts every Friday, there are considerable must-go deals at the Ferndale location, currently it's 15% off everything, vinyl, dvd's, tapes!!!

"It's sad for me because I enjoy Ferndale, a lot," said Williams, who originally worked over at the Roseville store. "I had a really good time here, I like the diversity of the people on this side of town. We manage to laugh every day, we enjoy each other's company so much." He added, ominously, "I think eventually there will come a time and not too far away--there won't be tangible music. It'll be all online, on your iphone, and it's time..., not that 'it's time for it to happen' but it's 'just time'--things change over time, and as long as we keep edging towards trying to make verything easier...and quicker, somethings have to go."

"...just downloading and the rampant copying of things," Patricola added, "all those things and with dvd's, netflix, bootlegging, all that stuff is just really, starting to catch up with our industry."

"The arts are disappearing," said Williams, referencing Jazz and Classical's swan song in popular culture and in schools. "What you have left is...Hanna Montana and...bless that little girl, but, please..., there's nothing about what she's doing that's moving the culture up."

Record Time is just the beginning. "People don't look at us closing like they did when Tower closed or when Harmony House closed," said Williams, "every little bit counts, we're just losing it..."

But Roseville stays open! And - you've got concerts every friday, leading up to 2 ALL DAY festivals (organized by Record Time and Michael Sharbatz): "Record Time Phest" on March 21st and 22nd will feature in-store performances throughout the day, with an all DJ-electronic line up on the 21st and live bands on the 22nd, from 12pm - 9pm each day. Line ups are also T.B.A., but you can check myspace.com/recordtime and recordtime.com/ for more information.


(Wildcatting, from 2/15, photo by Mike Milo)

Or, instead,...get off the computer, go down there and ask the clerks yourself. And buy one last record while you're there. And then go over to Roseville and check out their vinyl.

"I want L-P's!!"

[One upcoming (Ferndale store) show includes a mini LocoGnosis showcase on March 7th with bands currently T.B.A.]

more of Brandon's photos:



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