April 16th was national Record Store Day http://www.recordstoreday.com/Home, a perfect match for a photo assignment for my composition and design class.  We needed to shoot at least 150 images and narrow them down to just five that were somehow linked to a series. What would be more natural than taking a photojournalistic approach and covering an event that overlaps with a interest for local music. 


On the eve of this day that celebrates the local charm and cool factor that surrounds the experience of actually stepping into a record store to flip through the stacks, expose yourself to new sounds and learn about music from those more passionate about music that we can only imagine. I still thank Rob (John Cusack) in “High Fidelity” for selling me The Beta Band record! The project took me straight to my favorite Minneapolis record store, Electric Fetus.

Electric Fetus red storefront_HDR2This was a cold wet night, just what I was hoping for to get some “edgy” urbanscape reflections. Add whipping winds and rain that quickly filled the lens and the plan worked out just part way. But thanks to one of the managers Paul, I felt very welcome to shoot the event. He encouraged me to come back early in time to capture the line that wrapped around the building before they opened the next morning. I knew that this was going to be fun if these record store fanatics were going to brave these 30 degrees temps for the chance to get their vinyl rewards. I took the opportunity to pick up a half dozen CDs before the next day’s crowds swarmed.

“Move on buddy. We’re not interested.”

My adventure took me to a second record store too, but the experience was wholly different. While I got to the second store Treehouse just after their 9pm closing, and I admit I didn’t get the same chance to warm up to the management in the same way, what I did encounter was not cool. Approaching Treehouse, I saw the lights on and guys huddled around the front counter, seemingly readying for the next day. I tugged on the handle of the glass door only to find it locked. I pointed to my camera, letting them know what I was up to and then backed away to take a series of shots. Admittedly, this took some time. I was shooting HDR (high dynamic range) shots, so the series of shots in the dark ranged from 30-seconds on down, and five shots per try. At one point, the inside lights went dark. Finally, after perhaps 3 to 4 minutes, one guy cracked open the door and yelled out, “Okay buddy. Move on. Get going.” I have to admit I was taken aback. I felt like he was treating me like some drunk pissing on his building.” I replied in my optimistic South Park character Butters’ tone, “It’s for tomorrow,” only to be curtly replied, “We’re not interested.” I walked back to my car down the street a bit wounded, but also resolved that I wasn’t going to give that store my photo coverage the next day, much less my business in the future.

Crowds took in the day’s experience

As promised, the line of record store enthusiasts snaked around the building. I didn’t get a good count, but when shooting it, it seem the number walking through the doorway at the initial opening approached some 100. People came and went all day. CS7G0239-adjOnce inside, record store enthusiasts checked out their favorite artists, on vinyl, CD and live! 

Ben Kyle of Romantica played a nice set
Ben Kyle of Romantica played a nice set
Haley Bonar returned from West Coast to release her new CD

Live performances featured Fort Wilson Riot, Holly Newsome of Zoo Animal, Ben Kyle of Romatica, Haley Bonar, Christine Brown and No Bird Sing. The final set (which I regrettably missed) featured Low.


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