Saturday is Record Store Day.
That means it's the day to get out and support your local independent music shop. And there are a bunch in the area, still living and breathing in this digital age, from a.k.a. music in Old City to Main Street Music in Manayunk to Hideaway Music in Chestnut Hill to Beautiful World Syndicate in South Philadelphia to Repo Records on South Street to Marvelous in University City to Siren Records in Doylestown.
All are among the more than 900 indie shops around the U.S., and over 1700 worldwide, who are participating in the fifth annual Record Store Day, which provides at least two good reasons for music lovers mingle among fellow enthusiasts at your local Mom & Pop while holding some actually physical product in your hand.
First of all, there's all sorts of free live music going on at area stores. Local Philadelphia psychedelic pop-rock band Cheers Elephant (pictured) are even going so far as to construct a mini RSD tour in support of its new release, Like Wind Blows Fire.
At 10:45, the four piece will play at Repo, at 538 South Street. at 1 p.m. they'll be at Main Street Music at 4444 Main in Manayunk, and then will head to Siren at 25 East State Street in Doylestown for a 3:15 set. (All that before piling in the van once again and heading north for a show at the Fun House in Bethlehem on Satuday night.)
The place where it'll be tempting to spend all day is Main Street Music. The music starts there at 12:30 with Shark Tape, followed by Cheers Elephant, Memphis singer-songwriter Megan Reilly, Englishman-turned-Philadelphian John Wesley Harding, Princeton grad and roots-folkie Anthony D'Amato, New York roker Jesse Malin and Delaware indie outfit Spinto Band. Quite the lineup.
Meantime, over at Hideaway Music in 8612 Germantown Ave. in Chestnut Hill, Philly rockers The Lux are on at 1, and pop savvy songwriter Scot Sax is on at 2. And at a.k.a., at 27 N. 2nd Street, Spinto Band will double dip, with a set scheduled for 3 p.m., that will also be sweetened by the presence of local handmade dessert purveyors Little Baby's Ice Cream.
But never mind what you can hear for free on Record Store Day. What music can you buy, in hopes of hopes of helping aggregate U.S. Record Store Day numbers up even higher than last year, when RSD sales of physical singles increased by 697% over the previous week?
Well, there's lots of cool stuff, much of which will be available in stores in limited quantities on Saturday only until they sell out. One such coveted item, no doubt, will be Feistodon, a 7 inch single in which Canadian songwriter Leslie Feist covers Atlanta heavy rockers Mastodon's "Black tongue" and Mastodon tackles Feist's "A Commotion." (Hear both songs below.)
Other choice offerings: An LP including "There It Is" and "Pass The Peas," two previously unreleased James Brown songs, recorded live at the Apollo Theatre in New York. A 7 " of Jimmy Fallon as "Tebowie," his hilarious amalgam of David Bowie and now-New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow. And "You Be Illin'," a double-sided single of Run-D.M.C.'s classic rap song paired with a cover of it by African-American jug band Carolina Chocolate Drops.
They'll be CDs and all sorts of other items on sale at Record Store Day shops - like a covetable Buck Owens coloring book I've got my eye on, for instance. But a lot of what Record Store Day is about is vinyl, which has become the life blood of many indie shops, as CDs become superfluous in the mp3 and streaming age, and music geeks young and old yearning for tangible product and analog sound.
It's more than a fad: Sure, vinyl still only accounts for 1.2% of total sales, but according to SoundScan, vinyl sales were up 39% last year, after a 10% increase from 2010. Record Store Day is a communal focal point of that surge. So if you're one of those people that gets all tingly when watching a 180 gram disc of vinyl spin around a turntable at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute, get out there and buy something.