Record Store Day has, in its six years of existence, become as much a rite of spring for many of us as baseball's opening day, or the first day of trout season. Always coming in mid-April, the event — designed to bolster support of independently run music stores — is like Music-Nerd Christmas (or perhaps Music-Nerd Black Friday).
Most of what makes Record Store Day special are the special releases that artists and labels put out specifically for the occasion. Reissues, pre-issues, special editions, colored vinyl — it's a feeding frenzy for vinyl fetishists. Most are available only on Record Store Day — this year, it's on Sat., April 21 — and only in participating stores (at least until they go up on Ebay the next day).
Special releases this year range from a Buck Owens coloring book with flexidisc and MP3 download to an LP version of Rockabye Baby: Lullabye Renditions of The Smiths, for the Morrissey completist (or the lullabye completist) in your life. Even the big names (Katy Perry and Lana Del Rey each have a disc of remixes available as exclusives) and even dead names are involved this year (James Brown and Janis Joplin are offering "new" 7-inches).
Locally, one release finally seeing light of day for the first time on Saturday will be the second Electronic Saviors compilation. Put together by longtime industrial-music promoter, musician and cancer survivor Jim Semonik, the comp is being released next month by Philly's Metropolis Records. But Eide's Entertainment (1121 Penn Ave., Strip District), where Semonik works, will offer a special edition version on Record Store Day. The premium package includes an 8-CD set, some extra swag like a wristband and sticker, and literature from Gilda's Club and BRICKS, a Pittsburgh-based organization that helps young adults living with cancer. It's available only on Record Store Day; Semonik will DJ an in-store set Saturday as well.
In Lawrenceville, 720 Music, Clothing and Café (4405 Butler St.) will be celebrating all day with in-store sets by local DJs. From 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., DJs including Nugget, Nice Rec, J. Malls, Vex and Buscrates will spin. The official afterparty takes place at Shadow Lounge, where Classic Material — featuring SMI and 720 co-owner Selecta — involves all vinyl.
Mike Seamans of Mind Cure Records (3138 Dobson St., Polish Hill) found that this year he didn't go out of his way to buy too many Record Store Day special releases. "I'm doing a pretty minimalist approach this year," he explains. "There are so many special releases that's it's kind of like a flood and some really cool stuff just gets lost in the mix." He's stocking only a handful of special items, but is augmenting with a sale on used items.
In addition to other first-run stores with special Record Store Day releases (Desolation Row, 410 S. Craig St., Oakland; The Attic, 513 Grant Ave., Millvale), some used-record stores are getting into the act. Jerry's Records (2136 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill) will hold a sidewalk sale in which all items (vinyl, CDs, cassettes, books) will be $1, and as happens from time to time, Jerry will be giving away boxes of records for free.