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Day honors record stores

All right kids, it’s that time of year when we pay tribute to somewhere a lot of you probably have never been before: the record store.

Those of you reading this who are old enough to remember way back in the day when MTV actually played music videos probably will be familiar with these establishments.

I’m not talking about the chain stores at the mall, the Sam Goodys and such, which are dull and corporate, understocked and overpriced, mainly a place for casual music fans.

It’s where soccer moms go to get their Yanni on.

Nor am I speaking of those kitchen-sink retailers where Molly Hatchet best-of discs are peddled next to refrigerators.

You see, the best record stores always have been those indie shops run by music die-hards who often know their customers on a first name basis.

My favorite spot growing up was a little place called GB’s in Decatur, Ill., which was essentially a walk-in closet with records run by a pair of scruffy looking middle-age brothers who looked like Foghat roadies.

It was a hangout as much as a place of business, where you could spend hours digging through crates, judging things by their cover, discovering rare imports, talking shop with like-minded music obsessives.

That vibe still exists today, here in Vegas at places such as Zia, and this Saturday, these shops will be celebrated during Record Store Day.

It’s a pretty cool annual event, with tons of bands, ranging from the Deftones to Deerhoof, putting out limited edition releases exclusive to indie retailers. There’s also lots of in-store events as well.

At the two Vegas Zia locations, there will be live sets by bands such as The Lipstick Killas and A Death to Stars, as well as a book signing by Meatmen singer Tesco Vee and more (check out ziarecords.blogspot.com for further details).

“Record Store Day is a way of saying, ‘We’re here,’ ” says Karl Hartwig, store manager of the Zia on Sahara Avenue. “There’s a lot of exclusives that you’re not going to find at these big box retailers.”

Hartwig’s emblematic of the kind of folks who staff a store such as this, a music lifer who has been doing this since he started working at a Wherehouse music store in Arcadia, Calif., in ’81.

He has worked at chain retailers in that time, and knows firsthand how different the vibe is here.

“I’ve never worked at a chain (shop) where customers, every day, walk up and go, ‘I love your store,’ ” he says from the back room at Zia on a recent Wednesday morning.

He’s surrounded by posters and CDs, stacks and stacks of future connections to be made.

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.

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