Vinyl bliss in Vail Saturday
Tom Robbins, the owner of Eagle Valley Music & Comics, has been busy unpacking boxes and boxes of swag and limited edition vinyl records this week at his music store. The fifth annual Record Store Day, a national celebration of independent records stores in the U.S., takes place Saturday and the West Vail store is one of 30 Colorado stores taking part in the party. Last year people stood in line outside the store, waiting anxiously for Robbins mom Jeannie, to swing open the doors.”This year should be twice as big as last year,” Robbins said. “There’s been a buzz for months now and people seem really excited. People have said they’ll wait in line outside an hour early to make sure they get the pieces they want.”Vail resident Adam Asavei recently started collecting vinyl records and is planning his strategy for Saturday – the third year in a row he’ll have attended Record Store Day at Eagle Valley Music.”It’s pretty cool,” he said. “Last year I got a blue Devo record they were releasing – a two-song 7-inch record, and they released a bunch of Hank Williams III on limited color vinyl. Every year I keep picking up a Doors record for my buddy.” This year I think they will release a never-released live Devo album, and I think they’re doing a James Brown thing. The one I’m really excited about is the MC5 with Afrika Bambaataa split. I’m going to check the list again tonight to get my mind in order before I got there Saturday.”Robbins brought in around 95 percent of the stuff available for Record Store Day, he said, even some oddball offerings. There are picture records, with photos pressed into records, “tons” of colored vinyl records and a wide selection of sizes – 45s, 7-inch, 10-inch and full size.”Our store is covered to the likes of a big city store,” he said. “Last year I had people drive up from Denver for it because the Denver stores were picked clean.”
As far as the free giveaways go, there are more than a dozen CD samplers, with only 30 to 40 of each available, Robbins said. “Those tend to be the most popular,” Robbins said. “The biggest for-sale piece, as far as buzz goes, is this super deluxe vinyl release of Phish’s ‘Junta.’ A well-known artist Pollack did the cover and the super deluxe version comes with a signed and numbered tile from the artist. Phish fans, like Grateful Dead fans, are just rabid about getting that stuff. After market it tends to go for three or four times the amount on ebay.”Last year, two records from Phish sold for around $25 each, list price, and ended up going on ebay the next day for $150, Robbins said. Last year around 250 to 300 people showed up for the event, Robbins said, and this year he expects more. It’s first come, first served as far as the merchandise goes, and nothing will be sold online or will be held over the phone for someone -that’s a pledge each participating store signs. “We want people in the store, excited. We want them to make the effort,” Robbins said. “Black Friday at Wal-Mart is survival of the fittest and I imagine there will be an element of that here, with the limited quantities, but still there’s a feeling of camaraderie: (vinyl is) old school and it’s back and it’s back to stay.”Recently there were some question about whether the store, which the Robbins family has owned for 28 years, would survive. As of now, Robbins has reached an agreement with the building’s landlord, he said, but the store is trying to raise enough money for back rent that’s owed and to pay for a lit sign in front of the store. “If we’re going to stay all depends on the public’s response and if they want us around,” he said. “We need them to come, and not just on Record Store Day, of course,” he said. But that’s a good day to start. “The folks who run that place are really nice,” Asavei said. “I hope they do well with their business.”High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.