September 27, 2006
Record Weirdo - In Recovery
Text and Photo by Kevin Hillskemper
Why did the record collector cross the road?
He heard there were some rare records on the other side, past some quicksand and a minefield, in an old abandoned munitions factory under a pile of toxic waste.
How many record collectors does it take to change a light bulb?
Three – one to fall off the ladder, one to stick his finger in the socket, and one to offer you fifty cents for the light bulb because he says it’s scratched.
What do you call a woman that lives with a record collector?
How do you disperse a crowd of record collectors?
Yell “Hey look, a bar of soap!” and they’ll scatter like cockroaches.
I’m in recovery. I sold off another chunk of my collection at the September 24th Orange County Record Show. I hadn’t even done any accumulating in the last year and a half since I last sold. I wanted to cut deep and make it hurt. I didn’t just want to lose some excess fat -- I wanted to lose some muscle and bone too. It went well.
I started out with a system. In July, I started going through my records. If I couldn’t name one song on an album – it goes. If I could name one song on it, I listened to that song for thirty seconds. If I didn’t like it – out it went. Singles were slightly different. Since I don’t bother to play 45’s any more, I just tried to cut my collection in half. My old punk singles are safe – they have immunity. My Elvis, Beatles, Stones, and Who aren’t going anywhere either – unless they’re duplicates of course. Pretty much everything else, however, is fair game.
I used the one-year rule on CD’s. If I haven’t listened to it in a year, it went. If it was a review copy and I hadn’t listened to it since I reviewed it – gone.
I didn’t actually abide by most of these rules but I still gathered up about 600 albums, 400 singles, 250 CD’s, a couple dozen 78’s, a couple music related books, a dairy crate of VHS tapes, and a smattering of 8-tracks for good measure.
I was off to the races.
When I arrived for load-in at 7:00 am on the morning of the show, I found out that the promoter had lost my reservation. Since he is a nice guy and he remembered me, he let me have a table in the foyer of the hall and promised that he would move me into the main room if he had any no-shows. He even offered me a cut rate. I took it. I'm easy - yes, I'm easy like Sunday morning.
Before I set up my wares, I went to the snack bar and filled my 16-ounce travel tumbler with fresh, piping-hot, Union Hall volunteer coffee. It would wreak havoc on my bladder for the next six hours.
I think my location worked to my benefit. I was the first table people saw when they walked in and the last one they saw on the way out. I sold so much stuff it was ridiculous. I sold stuff that I didn’t even know I had. I could have barfed on a plate and sold it as a rare psychedelic picture disc.
Whenever I sell, I separate my stuff down the middle. I put my valuable stuff on one side of the table and my cheap stuff on the other side. I occasionally throw a record that’s worth a few bucks in the budget bin with a bunch of one-dollar records. This gets the attention of the bargain hunters and keeps them flipping through the debris. More often than not, they become blinded by their good fortune and start gobbling up more records - seemingly at random. They will be so proud of their bargain-sniffing abilities that they won’t notice that they’re also buying a bunch of crap.
In business, these types of low-priced items are called “loss-leaders.” Since I’m not being paid anything extra for being original, I will call them that too. I could also call it “priming the pump”, “stacking the deck”, or “baiting the trap” but I’d rather not.
I didn’t sell anything that I can’t live without.
I did sell something that I never expected to. It was a two-record radio interview show from the early 70’s sponsored by the US Army. It was complete with cues for the announcer and recruitment commercials. The artists interviewed were Kiss, B.J. Thomas, Larry Coryell, and Charlie Daniels. I found it in a thrift store ages ago. It’s not listed in any price guide so I just arbitrarily slapped a 20-dollar price tag on it and forgot about it. I must have hauled it to ten record shows. The price tag had yellowed with age. I assumed it would have value as a Kiss collectible. I figured that fans of Thomas and Coryell probably wouldn’t want it because it has Kiss on it. Charlie Daniels fans wouldn’t buy it because they can’t read.
Sure enough, a Kiss fan bought it. I can be right sometimes. It just takes a while.
At these shows, there are always collectors that buy more than they can carry. I’ve seen them use shopping carts and little red wagons to haul their loot. You usually see a few people with those fold-up luggage caddies to haul boxes with. With more than one box, you need a dolly.
This time I saw something new – a wheelchair.
Some guy who was obviously experiencing medical problems was half pushing and half supporting himself on a well-worn wheelchair. The weight of a few hundred records in the seat of the chair was providing more that adequate ballast. He stopped at my table and talked for a few minutes. He selected a few Neil Diamond records from the one-dollar bin and explained that he was a performer in Las Vegas and needed to learn some Neil Diamond songs and add them to his repertoire. Because he was wearing one of those big Dr. Seuss looking hats, I didn’t believe a word he said. His elaborate story wasn’t even necessary. You don’t have to explain your tastes in music to me. If we learned anything from the 1970’s, it’s that Neil Diamond means never having to say you’re sorry.
Kiss fans never offer any explanations or apologies. I respect that.
A few hours into the show, the promoter offered me another table. He even offered to have my stuff moved for me. I declined. I liked where I was.
I saw Davie Allan from Davie Allan and the Arrows. I may have mentioned this before, but he is one of my all-time guitar heroes. He didn’t buy anything from me. Cheap bastard.
I sold off most of my Elvis impersonator records. I think I’ve written enough articles about them and I don’t need to hold on to my research material anymore. The guy who bought them owned a store and he said he couldn’t keep enough Elvis items in stock. He had some customers that would buy anything Elvis – even fake Elvis. He even bought an Elvis Costello single from me. You never know, someone might snatch it up before they finish reading the label.
Elvis stuff always sells like hotcakes. I hope nobody steals my idea of selling Elvis-shaped hotcakes. Note to self – buy Bisquick.
I’d like to go back to the topic of fan loyalty. A number of years ago, I was selling at a record show in Tacoma, Washington. A young disabled guy came up to my table wearing at least seventeen pieces of Ricky Nelson flair. Like a dork, I asked if he was looking for anything in particular. He pointed at a Ricky button the size of a hubcap on his chest and said “This guy right here.” I fished out a four-song EP from the 50’s and showed it to him. It was something he was looking for. I knew it was worth more than a buck, but that’s all I charged him for it.
I don’t know why I remember that, maybe because I question my own motivation. I don’t think I cut him such a sweet deal out of pity or able-bodied guilt - maybe I just admired his dedication. Jaded old cynics like myself are somehow incapable of that.
I couldn’t take advantage of a Ricky Nelson fan. I would, however, have no qualms about ripping off a fan of Jimmy Buffett or the Insane Clown Posse.
I didn't sell a single 8-track tape. I sold a few 78's and then gave the rest away.
When three o’clock rolled around, I was itching to go but I was trapped. Earlier in the day, some guy bought more stuff than he could carry. He asked if I could put it in a box and hold it for him behind the table. Since he already paid me for it, I felt obligated. About 2:30 in the afternoon, dealers started packing up and leaving. A few scavengers showed up looking for scraps but the action was pretty much over. At 3:01, one minute after the show officially closed, I went into the main room to look for the guy. Since the room was almost empty, he was pretty easy to find. He was at a table in back preventing a dealer from closing up shop. I handed him his box of stuff and jokingly accused him of leaving a trail of filled boxes at every table. This seemed to upset him and he vehemently denied it. He acted like I was a spouse confronting him about an infidelity.
I just thanked him and left. He bought a lot of stuff from me.
People. I’ll never understand them.
Posted by Big Kev at 9:44 PM
September 16, 2006
Tink's End of Summer 06' Concert Slew of Reviews
A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor June 2, 2006 @ the Hollywood Bowl
So this was the first time that I have gone to the Hollywood Bowl (although family members remembers going when I was young but who can remember that?). I went with Brian (Barflies.net's Occulator) and then met up with former Barflies.net contributor, Tanya.
It was a beautiful night. Our seats were high enough that we could see the Hollywood sign.
A Prairie Home Companion is patterned after the old time radio shows of the 30's and 40's that you can hear on various public radio stations.
This performance was to promote the new movie A Prarie Home Companion that was soon to be released in the theatres. It featured 3 of the actor's from the movie, Meryl Streep, Virgina Madson and John C Reilly. Also on the bill was Shelby Lynne and a Bluegrass band that unfortunatly I forgot the name. The performance was great with the various sketches, monologues, and advertisements for products that I'm not too sure really exists. The only draw back was that Garrison Keillor has a low monotonous voice which works well on the radio but it did not project to well at the Bowl. Not sure if it was where we were sitting or they didn't mike him well but sometimes it was difficult to hear what he was saying.
I love the Hollywood Bowl. It's so nice to go to a venue and bring your own food and alcohol and not have to dump it at the gate. I also recommend that if you have the opportunity to take a bus that the Hollywood Bowl provides, please do. It's so worth it.
Throw Rag, end of June 06, The Key Club
This was the first time I got to see Throw Rag without Jacko and it's as if he never left. The set was still strong as ever, maybe Sean Doe had to work a bit harder but always a great show. Not sure why but the crowd was very small so it's was quite "intimate". Barflies.net 'hearts' Throw Rag. Also featured on the bill was the Cheatin Kind, Lonesome Spurs ( she uses a old suitcase as a drum and you have to check out the outfits!) and downstairs at Plush was the Irish Bros.
Hootenanny, July 1, 2006, Oak Canyon Ranch
Please see review
Chris Isaak, July 12, 2006, O.C. Fair
I love county fairs and I love Chris Isaak. And the two go together like peanut butter and jelly!
This was the second time seeing Chris at the O.C. Fair. But this time I had better seats (Thank you, Muffin!) We got there early to enjoy rides, games, and the animals. I won a stuffed dog from one of the money robbing games and he looks like Triump the Insult Comic Dog. He now sits in the back of my car. I need to find him a large gold bow tie and a cigar.
Anyways, this was the first time that Muffin got to see Chris live and now she is calling herself Mrs. Chris Isaak, whatever. Having got to see Chris last year at the fair, the only beef that I had was it seemed scripted but Chris makes up for it being charming, cute and a great performer.
Muffin bought some Chris Isaak swag and then we had him autograph it. I wanted to meet him so I took the shirt that she bought and when it came for my turn of course I was shy and all tongue tied. He signed his name with a big heart and said I will look great in the shirt but it wasn't my shirt, DAMN! Lucky for me, I think he likes brunettes. Yeah for me!
Tom Jones, July 22, 2006, @ the Hollywood Bowl
As long as I've known Brian, he has raved about Tom Jones. And I'm like whatever. So Brian buys a slew of tickets for Tom Jones @ at the Hollywood Bowl he says "you're going". So for years, my sister Nancy has raved about Tom Jones, asking me if I wanted to go see him every time he came to town. And again I'm like whatever. So when Brian happened to have an extra ticket, I decided to take my sister but it was a suprise. She didn't know till the day of the show.
Before we headed over to catch the bus to the bowl, I asked her if she wanted to know now or when we got to the bus AND she was like now!!! So I told her and she was so suprised, she started to cry. She has always wanted to see Tom Jones. She remembers sneaking downstairs when she was little to watch his t.v show. That's how long she has been a fan.
So for me, who was like whatever, everytime someone mentioned Tom Jones now I'm in love with Tom Jones. What a great show and what a great performer. He's the only man over 60 that is allowed to dye his hair and still look great. We had a great group go, featuring former Barflies.net contributer Lauren, that the ladies, who sat in front of us, thanked us for making it so much fun for them.
I guess it's been a tradition for years that woman would throw their underware at Tom, so Brian being the traditionalist bought some underware for us to throw. A) I found that disturbing but B) they were little girls panties. I'm still disturbed.
Posted by Tinkinator at 9:30 PM
September 11, 2006
Willie Nelson @ Hollywood Bowl: September 10, 2006
Willie Nelson wrapped up a three-night run at the Hollywood Bowl Sunday night. Instead of performing a set of standards and then a normal set of "hits" following an intermission (as he had Friday and Saturday night), Sunday night's show featured Neko Case and Ryan Adams as openers. Neko Case was a dream, with her distinct and lovely voice, while Ryan Adams and his multiple self-indulgent guitar solos proved dreadfully boring. Willie's performance philosophy was the polar opposite of Ryan Adams, as he performed one song after the other, seemingly without taking time to breathe. Even the couple new songs he played are sure to become classics, based on the very favorable reaction from the audience.
Given that all three shows at this gigantic theatre were nearly sold-out, it gives proof to the fact that real country music is still alive and well in Los Angeles.
Posted by darlin at 9:33 PM
September 8, 2006
Old Crow Medicine Show @ Henry Fonda Theatre: September 5, 2006
Even if you don't like bluegrass music, there are two words which will explain why you should go see the Old Crow Medicine Show anyway: CUTE BOYS. Seriously. They're everywhere at OCMS shows. On stage, in the audience, EVERYWHERE.
Okay, if that's not enough reason for you, they're also damn good musicians. Think bluegrass music with hard-core punk attitude, and you've got OCMS. This isn't your grandfather's nice church-bluegrass - this is bluegrass on speed.
I don't think they had an opening band for their Tuesday night show at the beautiful Henry Fonda Theatre. I'm not sure because we arrived fashionably late (but not as fashionably late as the poor folks who were arriving right as the show was ending), just before they ended their first set, but in time to hear them perform what I think is my theme song, "Fall on My Knees," from their recently released EP Down Home Girl. They've also got a new CD out, too, called Big Iron World, and they played plenty of tunes from that album, too, as well as a nice Waylon Jennings cover. Other highlights included "Wagon Wheel," "James River Blues," "Wagon Wheel," and the perennial audience favorite, "Tell It to Me."
And of course, the eye candy is always a nice touch.
Posted by darlin at 9:18 PM