Saturday, April 19, 2008

Get Thee To A Record Store

As if we needed a reason to spend a Saturday at the record shop, today is RECORD STORE DAY. Record stores are awesome. Especially the ones that kick-ass. Dave Kuzenko's X-Ray Records in Regina is one such kick-ass, awesome record store.

When I was forced to move to Regina at age 15, Dave's shop (then a Records on Wheels) was the first place I went after I signed up for high school. Othen than school and eventually workplaces, I doubt I spent more time in Regina outside of my home anywhere else but X-Ray.

I still remember that first visit. I didn't buy anything, but I saw lots that I wanted. There was a black t-shirt with art from Lou Reed's Transformer album on the wall, in the high north corner at the front. I wanted it so bad, and eventually guilted my mother into buying it for me about a week later. After all, I'd been sooooo traumatized by the move. (As if, I saw an opportunity and exploited it.)

When I wore that shirt to my new school for the first time, everybody knew where I stood on the Lou Reed issue. I made a lot of friends because of that shirt. Let's see, there was the guy with the Lenny Bruce shirt, the guy with the Mudhoney shirt, and the guy with the KISS shirt. We all knew where one another stood. On one of my weekend visits back to Saskatoon, I wore the shirt when I saw a band called I Am Joe's Lung (featuring a guitarist who would go on to play in Vancouver's Nasty On) at the Unitarian Centre. Midway through their set, they played a cover of "Sweet Jane" and I looked at the singer and pointed to my shirt, so that he would know where I stood on the issue.

I didn't buy a lot of other shirts from Dave (though I did buy a really sweet Jon Spencer Blues Explosion t-shirt with a blue naked lady on the front with my first paycheque from my first post-high school job--selling time-share vacations in the basement of the Travelodge). But I did buy a lot of music there. I even bought an album from him the day before I moved to Vancouver. Even though Dave's the kind of friend you end up giving money to almost every time you hang out with, I always looked forward to heading over to X-Ray whenever I could. For a while, I actually had to walk by the store on my way home from work. That was awesome. I got a lot of great music outta that.

My favourite way of shopping at X-Ray was to spend about 90 minutes looking through the racks and then picking out something based purely on how bad-ass the cover art was. Dave would always be able to tell all kinds of stuff about the album and nine times out of ten, it was awesome. I got a lot of wicked blues and jazz albums that way. I also bought a lot of stuff based on recommendations from either Dave or the handful of dudes who occasionally worked there.

Dave was also always real supportive and encouraging of my writing, even in the early days when I sucked even more than I do now.

From the way I'm talking, it sounds like Dave's not there anymore, but guess what? He is. If you're in Regina today, stop in and chew the fat. Buy a damn record for a change. He'll probably be watching the Jays on his laptop. Tell him Mathesoy says hey.

mp3: "Save Yourself" by the Make-Up
mp3: "Blossom (Got to Get it Out)" by Komeda

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