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Like most true Vinyl Heads, McKinley and Barrett Palmieri were completely jazzed. It was Saturday, the fifth annual Record Store Day, and they were happily negotiating the crowded and record-stuffed aisles at Mystic Disc, looking for treasures.
Here's the deal, though. Blues nut McKinley — named for blues great McKinley "Muddy Waters" Morganfield — is 11-years-old. Barrett is her 7-year-old brother and he's named after Pink Floyd's founding genius, Syd Barrett.
Does a 7-year-old kid actually like Pink Floyd?
"Yes," he said, pawing through piles of commemorative and free Record Day giveaways. "I like 'Dark Side of the Moon' and any Syd on colored vinyl."
Who ARE these people?
Well, they're the children of Bill Palmieri, a New Haven attorney/music freak who made the drive to Mystic Disc partly because it was Record Store Day and partly because, as he said, "Mystic Disc is the best record store in the world. Collecting records is in all of our blood, and this is the place to be today."
The children concurred, and all three said they'd been looking forward to the trip since last year's Record Store Day.
Mystic Disc owner Dan Curland, behind the counter, was acting as if he had seven hands as he answered the steadily ringing phone, manned the cash register, and tossed out musical opinions — more free stuff on Record Store Day!
"Of course this is a great day," Curland said. "The store's full, people are happy, and it's fun. That said, I do worry that there's a bit of a corporate mentality creeping into Record Store Day. When it started, it was designed for the independent retail stores, and artists supplied special vinyl in commemoration.
"But who's going to argue on a day like this?" he said as he waved his arm around his store, which has been a renowned purveyor of tunes and a musical Mecca for kids throughout the region for almost two decades.
In Niantic, at Tumbleweeds, a shop that sells used vinyl as well as CDs, gifts and clothing, owner Tara Wyatt said it had been busy all day.
"Saturday's always a good day for us," she said, "but there have definitely been people coming in because it's Record Store Day."
Wyatt said she spent about $800 in special items for Record Store Day — artists and labels provide exclusive material that's either available only on the day itself or won't be otherwise available to the public for a few months. Though she said she could point to only four specific transactions related solely to her Record Store Day inventory, the fact that she was having store-wide discounts in celebration accounted for some nice sales figures.
"Part of it is because it's become harder to get certain items designed for Record Store Day," she said. "Phish released some nice stuff, but you could only get so many copies per store. I sold all of those at once and I could definitely have used a lot more."
In the expansive, vinyl-only back room at Tumbleweeds, a regular known only as "Feral" was helping Wyatt price albums. But he was also a customer. Record Store Day didn't mean a lot to him, particularly, he said, because every day was about records.
"When I was a kid growing up in Providence, I'd walk four miles each way to get to a blues record shop," he said. "If I'd have taken the bus, I wouldn't have been able to buy as many records."
On this Record Store Day, he said, "I found Johnny Winter's 'Winter of '88,' with Jon Parris on bass and harmonica."
Spoken like a true Vinyl Head.
Perhaps the biggest party atmosphere was taking place at the Telegraph Record Store in New London. There was a full line-up of bands performing in-store, with DJs spinning between sets, and the scent of pizza wafting through a shop full of mostly college-age folks digging through stacks of records. On display at various points were Record Store Day specials, including a huge collection of special 7-inch records by a variety of artists.
"There were about 10 people in line waiting for us to open the doors this morning, and it's been bustling since," said Rich Martin, who co-owns the Telegraph with his wife, Daphne Lee Martin.
"Sometimes we'll have maybe 20 people in the store over the course of a whole day," Daphne Lee Martin said. "We've had a least 20 in here steadily. And it will probably get busier as it gets a little later."
Nearby, setting up for their set, was the Brooklyn band Madam Macadam.
Though he was in the Telegraph to do a gig, band member Matt Myer said, "I can't wait to finish our set so I can start shopping. I'd love to find the first Big Star album or anything with Doug Sahm on it. The way it sounds on vinyl just can't get any better."
Obviously, Record Store Day is a niche-celebration aimed at hardcore music enthusiasts. Think about it, though: while customers packed local vinyl stores, isn't it true the biggest fans would be the store owners? In that spirit, we asked the proprietors of Mystic Disc, the Telegraph in New London, and Niantic's Tumbleweeds what their respective wish-list inyl purchases were on Record Store Day.
• Dan Curland (Mystic Disc): “The Mynah Birds single. That was the band with Rick James and Neil Young before Buffalo Springfield. Also: ‘The Grenade Sessions' by Bruno Mars.”
• Tara Wyatt (Tumbleweeds): “I had to get the special release Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, a Sharon Jones boxed set, and ‘Rock Dust Light Star' by Jamiroquai.”
• Rich Martin (The Telegraph): “Uncle Tupelo released a boxed set of seven-inch singles, and ‘Perfect Teeth' from the indie rock band Unrest.”
• Daphne Lee Martin: “There are so many I want. All of the stuff on (Jack White's) Third Man (record label). Is that too much?”
— Rick Koster