The Exclusive Company goes all out for Record Store Day
With each passing year, the indie record store scene in Milwaukee seems to grow leaner and leaner.
There are still die-hard record store fans, like The Decembrists' Colin Meloy, who says, "I don't know what I would do without indie record stores. Having grown up in a town without them, I can tell you that it's no fun to shop for indie records at chain box stores. Independent record stores like Sonic Boom in Seattle, Rockin Rudys in Missoula and 2nd Avenue in Portland were holy golden shrines to me growing up. Actually, they still are."
And a certain Sir Paul McCartney, who enthuses, "There's nothing as glamorous to me as a record store. When I recently played Amoeba in L.A., I realised what fantastic memories such a collection of music brings back when you see it all in one place."
The advent of Record Store Day, an annual, international event celebrating independent record shops, hasn't really helped stem the tide in Milwaukee and other cities, but putting the spotlight on indie record shops is a big deal.
One business that really glimmers in the limelight of Record Store Day each year is The Exclusive Company, which again celebrates with a full line-up of bands performing in the store on Saturday, April 17.
The Exclusive claims to be America's oldest full-line record store, having opened 54 years ago. Back then, the Exclusive carried 78s (ask your grandpa). Currently, there are locations in Green Bay, Appleton, Oshkosh, West Bend, Milwaukee, Madison, Janesville and some suburbs of those places.
As always, participating shops will have Record Store Day exclusives -- 7"s, 12"s, CDs and DVDs -- by the likes of Bruce Spingsteen, Flaming Lips, Wisconsin native Cory Chisel, Hold Steady, Tom Waits, Mountain Goats, Black Keys, Beach House, Bon Iver, John Lennon, Queens of the Stone Age, Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stones and Weezer.
"It creates an awareness that we still exist for the people that we maybe fell out of favor because of downloading and the economy and for the people that didn't grow up knowing what a CD or a record is," says Terry Hackbarth, a local musician who also works at The Exclusive Company. "Also the fact that certain artists who are releasing vinyl and CDs that specifically for indie stores means a lot to us."
The indie chain's Farwell Avenue and Brady Street location hosts a range of live music starting at 2 p.m. On the bill are The Exotics, The Lackloves, Surgeons in Heat, Conrad Plymouth, Trapper Schoepp & The Shades, Sugar Stems, The Sleazybeats and Slug Shell. Some DJs from 91.7 WMSE will also be on hand to spin at the free event.
As an added bonus this year, The Exclusive Company is sponsoring an evening gig, too.
"A Tribute to Alex Chilton and Big Star" takes place Saturday at 9 p.m. at Linneman's Riverwest Inn.
Among the bands on hand to pay tribute to Chilton, who died of a heart attack on March 17 at age 59, are Aimless Blades, Quinn Scharber, Juniper Tar, Matt Beckler, Certain Stars, John Peacock, Surgeons in Heat, Tom Vollman and Hackbarth.
All proceeds from the show benefit 91.7 WMSE.
Hackbarth says that despite the threats to local indies, The Exclusive Company has been adept at navigating the tides.
"We've had to adapt to survive and will continue to do so to survive, which has meant carrying more DVDs and expanding our new and used vinyl, but without sacrificing our deep selection CDs," he says. "We currently have a very dedicated customer base that isn't going anywhere."
there was really no other way to set this up in the store other than the way it was, and it really was not that crowded back there at 3pm. a simple "excuse me" seemed to work well when i did need somebody to move. great event, great day, great night at Linnemans. props to everybody who worked hard to set up these events!
I stopped by Exclusive what I thought was kind of late, 3ish, and could barely walk in the door. By the time I made it in the back to look at the records, I realized I was buried in a sea of people. Why would you put all the records right in front of the bands? People wanted to stand and watch music while I wanted to look thru the records. I know that place is cramped for space and this was a big event, but I was pretty disappointed at the setup and that I couldn't even move to look thru the records.
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