Record stores offer holiday spinsWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2004, following the death of local institution Boogie Records, a new store, named Culture Clash Records, opened on Secor. It carried with it many of the same sensibilities and focus that made Boogie so beloved; spotlighting young and undiscovered acts, the largest selection of vinyl LPs available in the area, and more. Fittingly, it was the brainchild of one of the driving forces behind the late, great Boogie, Pat O’Connor.
Now, five years later, Culture Clash Records is still going strong. And to celebrate the anniversary, the store held a grand birthday bash, called “Rediscover Music,” on December 4th, 5th and 6th.
“We’re just kinda celebrating, saying ‘Hey, we’re still here!’,” said Pat O’Connor in a phone interview.
The enthusiasm in O’Connor’s voice mirrors the obvious passion he has for music, and why he has been involved with it in his professional life for three and a half decades.
He was a co-owner of Boogie Records for over 30 years, and many of the ideas behind Culture Clash were inspired by his experiences at Boogie.
“The process was kind of narrowing down the way I wanted to take on the music retail scene in Toledo,” O’Connor said of the inspiration for Culture Clash. “We were kinda looking at, what kind of indy stuff would work well in Toledo, what kind of direction would we take to really reflect what people are into in our area.”
In addition to the differing musical focus, Culture Clash also announces its independence with its decor. In an era where the homogeny of retailers leads to a Best Buy in Maine looking exactly like one in Texas, the Culture Clash storefront practically revels in its individuality, from the hand-painted logo on the building to the floor space being packed to bursting with its wide range of products.
“It kind of grew organically,” O’Connor said of the store’s look and variety. “What I was interested in musically has certainly shifted. What I was into five years ago, just on a personal level, and what I thought was the coolest thing in the world, has expanded and changed and grown. So that’s kinda what music is to me — I’m constantly learning.”
Among the products Culture Clash specializes in is an almost unparalleled selection of vinyl records. O’Connor said that despite the advent of compact discs and file services, for many music lovers the charm of listening to vinyl will never be replaced. In discussing the format, he lovingly invokes the visual of taking out an album, putting it on, savoring the process of how you listen as much as what you listen to.
“It has this realness that you just can’t escape. Someone might call it the drudgery of an album, I call it the ritual,” O’Connor said. “There’s also an argument about if it sounds better or not. In a lot of instances, a record just can’t be beat.”
And as Culture Clash looks ahead to its next 5 years, O’Connor says he is heartened by the audience that comes to his store, many of whom are just discovering the joy of independent music for the first time.
“We are seeing a brand new generation of kids who are getting interested in music again,” he said. “A lot of both young and old are getting into discovering music, or re-living what they used to enjoy.”
— Jeff McGinnins
RamaLama Records to host ‘Rock and Rummage’
The owner of RamaLama Records is giving holiday shoppers a reason to sing.
Rob Kimple will host “Rock and Rummage,” a virtual music flea market with vendors selling all kinds of music from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 18. He is offering 10 percent off all RamaLama store goods during the event.
“Our overall selection of disks and vinyl is better than any store around here,” Kimple said. “We have the largest selection of ‘metal’ music in the area and that’s what sets us apart from everyone else.”
Kimple has operated RamaLama Records from Cricket West shop for the past six years. Before opening, Kimple was a promoter in the music business.
RamaLama Records offers 20,000 to 25,000 disks and vinyl LP records in stock with everything from classic, polka and rock ‘n’ roll to current releases, such as Leonard Cohen’s “Live At The Isle of Wright 1970” album, according to Kimple. The legendary singer-songwriter’s performance at the music festival, which followed a set by Jimi Hendrix, was released for the first time this year.
The store also has Bob Dylan’s Christmas album and classic holiday music for sale, in addition to featuring a special section of local artists.
Kimple buys, sells and trades used and new CDs, DVDs and vinyl records at the store.
He said the store has the largest selection of used LP records, starting at 50 cents and ranging from $8 to $50 for new LP albums, such as the latest from “Them Crooked Vultures.”
“There had been a resurgence of LPs in the last six years. Everything is coming out on vinyl now and they’re making record players again,” Kimple said.
The name, RamaLama, comes from a song by MC5, which is a band from the Ann Arbor and Detroit area, Kimple said.
“Places like RamaLama Records make Toledo unique,” said Stacy Jurich, executive director of Toledo Choose Local that represents about 150 businesses. “It is our culture. Through Rob’s love for music and hard work comes a truly original store that supports local musicians and music lovers.
“Rob has been at the heart of the Toledo music scene for years and has been a vital part of its integrity,” she said. “Only at locally-owned record stores like RamaLama, will you find records of local musicians like The Blue Hook, The Antivillans and Boogaloosa Prayer. They are our roots and our people and we should support them.”
— Duane Ramsey