You mean, some people pay for CDs?
Music fans would probably agree that the heyday of Schoolkids Records, located on Ninth Street in Durham, were those indie-music boom days from the '80s to late-'90s. The store, then known as Poindexter Records, was the place to hear about shows, chat to the clerk/musician behind the counter and buy both national releases and new material by local artists. So when it came time to renew the store's lease, Schoolkids' owner Mike Phillips opted not to sign on for another five years, making Schoolkids the second--soon to be followed by a third, when Raleigh's Crooked Beat closes its doors April 15--local indie to close in 2002: The Record Exchange closed their Franklin Street store in January and the chain has closed other outlets. Crooked Beat will continue to do business but as a virtual store (www.crookedbeat.com) for now. Owner Bill Daly, a D.C. native who specializes in punk and indie, found he was shipping a lot more units than he was selling. "Smaller cities, the bands aren't coming through and radio isn't playing it," he says.
The Durham Schoolkids' closing even made the April 25 issue of Rolling Stone, where it's mentioned in the opening to yet another of those sad-state-of-the music-biz articles. This time, it's indie and college-area record stores that are in trouble, a phenomenon the author links to the boom in CD burning.
Says Phillips, who still has five Schoolkids locations open, "Our life blood is college kids, and I really don't blame these kids for what they do. It's [CD burning] the intelligent way to get music now. The idiots that I deal with that run major corporations just don't get that concept."
Phillips points to the first Weezer record as an example. Since it's been around for years, it should "probably cost $7 or $8," he says. "The list is $19. That's pure greed is what it is."
Kudos to Raleigh's Peter Blackstock of No Depression magazine for taking his passion for Americana music to the airwaves. Scheduled to launch April 29, the two-hour No Depression Alt-Country Radio Show, syndicated through an agreement with the NBG Radio Network, will feature Rob Reinhart of the syndicated Acoustic Café show in the producer/host chair. Expect to hear old faves and breakthrough artists--the kind No Depression has a knack for finding and championing.
Ron Royster is leaving his position as entertainment director at the Carrboro ArtsCenter. In an e-mail dated April 8, Royster says the ArtsCenter's new budget plan "called for the elimination of the ArtsCenter Concert Series," a recommendation that was passed by the board.
If you're in Austin, tune your TV set to the Austin Music Network, a 24-hour music video network, and you might catch "The Good Life is Half Night " by local singer-songwriter Michael Holland, whose video was put into the station's rotation. (Holland, by the way, no longer gigs under the name Damon Ray.)
Garner, the new Seattle?
It looked good on paper, or rather, e-mail. WZBZ, a new addition to the local radio community, "will become the area's premier showcase for local talent." There's also a quote from WZBZ General Manager Steve Bass to the effect that his company, Bass Music Enterprises, has provided sound, recording equipment and services to Triangle artists for over 20 years. The press release goes on to say that the station is committed to giving local artists an opportunity to be heard. WZBZ plans to host a Web site where they'll stream audio and video content with links to artists' sites, club schedules and other nifty sites. Heck, Bass even wants to open a WBZB music store. So far, so good.
We called sales guy/marketer/DJ Ed Yarborough, who also doubles as the station's program director, to get the skinny--was this an exciting breakthrough? Were these some bold visionaries defying the constraints of commercial radio and its pay-for-play, Clear Channel-dominated playlists. Well ...
First off, we're talking AM radio. Seems Bass got a line on a radio station for sale in Selma, N.C. and moved it to Garner, where he and his partners invested in a new tower and transmitter. Second, it seems that Bass, since he's already involved with local bands, figured the easiest way to get 'em on the radio was to just buy a radio station. Naturally, with the Triangle's rich musical heritage and national profile, we asked Yarborough to throw out some names of bands handled by Bass Music Enterprises.
"Joe's Bad Day, Roscoe's Collar, Full Throttle, Pearsall Brothers ... "
"Um, are those local?" asked the Indy. "Yeah, and there's some teenage bands too--you'll have to ask Dan [Bass]," says Yarborough, ever the salesman. WBZB 1090 AM plans to open in mid-May. And I'm sure they'd love your cassette, demo CD, or new poem sung onto answering-machine tape.
Music and film
Following in Yo La Tengo's footsteps, local rockers Superchunk are--as we speak--composing a score to be performed at the upcoming San Francisco International Film Fest this April 23. They'll be accompanying a screening of A Page of Madness, a 60-minute work by Japanese director Teinosuke Kinugasa. The 1926 film, long presumed lost, has been hailed as the only existing example of Japanese expressionism (think Caligari goes Nipponese). Former local Ash Bowie (Polvo, Libreness) will join 'Chunk on percussion, along with Chuck Johnson on laptop--Jon Wurster, who'll be on tour with Caitlin Cary, provided the drum loops and beats--for their performance at the Castro Theater.