Photo: Courtesy of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Photo: Courtesy of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Celebrate Record Store Day 2017 with the Dogfish Head x Crosley Cruiser Tour

As the official beer of Record Store Day (RSD), Dogfish Head Craft Brewery proudly celebrates the yearly occurrence. Whether it’s from afar at their respective locations, or by parking in front of a plethora of record stores in collaboration with Crosley Radio, Dogfish Founder Sam Calagione makes sure his business is knee-deep in the celebrations. With the calendar counting down toward the big day on April 22, you might see the Crosley Cruiser out and about at record stores like Crooked Beat in Alexandria, Va. and Joint Custody on U Street. We caught up with Calagione about the inspiration behind Dogfish’s collaboration with Crosley, why he thinks beer and vinyl pair so well together, and what locals can expect from the Dogfish x Crosley Tour stops in the DC area.

On Tap: What inspired this collaboration between Dogfish and Crosley?
Sam Calagione: Our brewery has been obsessed with music since the day we opened, and we have enjoyed every opportunity to weave together the art of brewing with our love of music as often and meaningfully as we can.

OT: How long has Dogfish Head been celebrating RSD? 
SC: We’re in our third year as the official beer of Record Store Day. Each year, we look forward to bringing fans another round of unique Dogfish offerings to help celebrate the moment of recognizing analog music, including a celebratory brew, compilation vinyl, nationwide events and for 2017, a 29-city tour.

OT: Why do you think beer and vinyl go together?
SC: I fell in love with music at the same time I fell in love with beer, and in an increasingly digital age, vinyl records provide a deep, tangible connection to music that reverberates with craft beer fans.

OT: We were particularly excited to find out about the Dogfish/Crosley partnership because our beer writer, Jamaal Lemon, wrote a piece for our April issue on beer and vinyl pairings. He even blogs on the subject regularly. Why do you think this is a rising trend?
SC: It’s definitely a movement. For the last couple years, we’ve hosted a “Vintage & Vinyl” happy hour every Thursday at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton. I always look forward to digging into my beer stash to share a few of our rarest, ageable ales with old and new friends that stop by the tasting room. Along with the throwback beers, we spin vintage vinyl on our old-school turntables – always a good time.

OT: What demographic are you hoping to attract at the RSD events?
SC: We’re hoping to celebrate the love of good beer and great music with longtime fans, and hopefully introduce a couple new friends to the magical movement.

OT: What is your favorite record to listen to on vinyl?
SC: My favorite album to listen to on vinyl while drinking beer is Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, because we collaborated on a beer with the Miles family and Sony Legacy called Bitches Brew that was designed to be paired with the album. The enjoyment of a beautiful beer with an amazing album at the same time is an exponentially awesome experience.

OT: Is the Beer to Drink Music to ’17 a limited edition brew or will it stick around? Has anything like this been released before?
SC: This is our second year of doing a Beer to Drink Music to. The 2017 version that’s in the market now is a tropical golden ale brewed with kiwi and hibiscus. We love it and have received lots of awesome feedback, but we’ve yet to decide if we’re doing the exact same liquid for Record Store Day 2018 or if we’re changing it up again. Rest assured, we are doing something special as we continue our romance and partnership with RSD.

OT: What do you hope people take away from going to the tour date event in their respective cities?
SC: I hope folks that come out to the Record Store Day and [Dogfish Head x Crosley Cruiser Tour] events leave with a renewed respect for their local music scene, especially the indie record stores that are the bedrock of any local music community. We hope they appreciate how passionate Dogfish Head is about indie music and how deep it runs in our brand. We’re hopeful that they’ll not only seek out Dogfish Head beers in the marketplace, but also come make a pilgrimage to our Milton brewery and see a live band on our own stage in Rehoboth Beach, Del.

OT: Why do you think vinyl is still relevant today?
SC: Vinyl is more relevant today than ever. Listening to music on vinyl presents an unparalleled aural experience where music sounds warmer and has more depth. In the digital age, when so much information is shared via the cloud, holding an art form tangibly in your hands and taking in the artwork that was thoughtfully put together at the same moment you’re listening to the music is a palatable and memorable experience.

OT: What can locals expect from the events at Dogfish’s Falls Church and Fairfax locations?
SC: [At] both events, we’ll be showing our love for music, art and beer at each spot. We will be giving away Dogfish hats, key chains and RSD stickers. Each person who comes onto the cruiser can take their picture in our photo booth and hashtag it to enter to win a Crosley record player.

For more information about the Dogfish Head x Crosley Cruiser Tour, click here.


Vinyl Spinnin’ Strong in DC

DJ (n.) – disc jockey; a person who introduces and plays recorded popular music, especially on a radio or at a disco. At a disco. A DISCO. Okay, so our present-day definition of DJ may be slightly different than the dictionary’s. The rise of EDM and EDM culture has also given rise to a particular persona associated with the modern DJ, one that does not conjure images of disco or coordinated dancing or even Pirate Radio.

But while glow sticks may have their place on a Saturday (or you know, Tuesday) night, there is among many DC nightclub-goers a desire for something more than bumping and blowing out eardrums. More than once over the past month, I’ve overheard a variation of this conversation:

Person A: “I want to be able to go somewhere and like, dance.”
Person B: “Well, yeah…”
Person A: “No, I mean like really dance, not the grinding up on each other kind.”
Person B: “I know, RIGHT? Do they have those places? I want to go there.”

Yes, there is an alternative. Enter the vinyl spinners.

Sure, America may have a love affair with nostalgia, but that doesn’t make showing up at Showtime Lounge for some Patrick Swayze-style dirty dancing (minus the space for “the lift”) with DJ Baby Alcatraz any less legit. Baby Alacatraz, like her compatriots Soul Call Paul (Showtime’s owner), Mad Squirrel, Nitekrawler and others, totes a collection of vinyl classics to DC’s dimly lit dives and dance spots, and breaks up the bass pound by spinning it old school with rhythm and blues.

“I started collecting vinyl because of the treasure hunt aspect, and also because you couldn’t find anything you wanted instantly on the Internet at the time,” says Alcatraz, who has developed a following that flocks to her all-vinyl dance party nights. “I’m still surprised at what information I can’t find online about many records and artists. Sticking to vinyl is a way for me to keep things fresh, and an excuse to play the records I love and collect.”

Along with Showtime, other smaller local venues, including favorites Velvet Lounge, Slash Run and Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar, have also started catering to the crowd that wants to get down to vinyl, and offering space to the DJs that bring it. For Sean Hissey, a.k.a. DJ Mad Squirrel, vinyl is all about daylighting forgotten gems.

“I grew up with records, so I’ve always enjoyed and collected vinyl,” Hissey says. “There’s something nostalgic about hearing that needle drop and the rich, full sound of the song – even with the occasional pops and crackles – blaring out of the speakers. Not only are you enjoying the wonderful recording of the musicians, but it can also bring back memories of where you found or first heard that record, and all that happened around it. The most exciting thing for me since I mostly DJ and collect 45s is that I’m constantly discovering great songs I’ve never heard.”

Hissey points to local record shops like Som, Smash, Joint Custody and Red Onion as places where DJs and collectors can find and share music, stories and projects. He is currently working on a compilation of rare 50s and 60s girl groups and female-fronted songs with friend Paul Vivari, which they hope to release on Vivari’s label.

But despite the steadily reemerging market for vinyl collecting and listening, and with “support groups” like DC Vinyl Headz that promote vinyl DJ events popping up, spinning vinyl is, according to some, still somewhat of a niche undertaking. Kevin Coombe spins both vinyl and electronic as DJ Nitekrawler, often at Little Miss Whiskey’s, where his Moneytown night is popular.

“The percentage of DJs regularly spinning vinyl sets is certainly on the low end these days,” Coombe says. “I wouldn’t necessarily say there is an exclusivity about it, nor is there a general camaraderie. I think everyone is just out there doing what works best for them.”

Of course, what works best is bound to vary, and while their styles and perspectives may differ, vinyl DJs are all offering DC something those of us keeping the needle in the groove are craving – a little soul. 

DJ Baby Alcatraz: On Twitter and Instagram @babyalcatraz
DJ Mad Squirrel:
DJ Nitekrawler:

Photos: Jamaal Lemon
Photos: Jamaal Lemon

Kickin’ It Local: Beer + Vinyl Pairings

Harmony (n.) – the quality of forming a pleasing and consistent whole

Synonyms include: cooperation, unity, compatibility, friendship, fellowship, symmetry

Given my degrees in education and English, one could assume any “expertise” I may possess would probably be in one of the aforementioned fields. Yet, I know much more about who added background vocals to Frank Ocean’s Pink + White, who mixed Santana’s Gypsy Woman and the cannabis strain used to help curate The Arcs’ Yours, Dreamily. Add to that the fact that I consume enough beer for a small town, and I frequently catch myself drinking a specific beer while listening to a specific album or song, and the genesis of this article was formed.  In it, I pair five local beers with five pieces of vinyl (by mostly local musicians). Enjoy.

Pairing #1
Hellbender’s Bare Bones Kölsch + Grap Luva’s Sounds of Mount Vernon

The numbers: 5 percent ABV, 21 IBU

The taste: Usually, a kölsch is not my #1 selection. However, on this day, I felt a bit “froggy.” I decided to get uncomfortable for no reason in particular, other than the thought of, “I wonder what I could pair musically with this beer.” I ordered a pint of the Bare Bones and on the first sip, I was impressed. It starts hoppy, but finishes crisp and clean, as all session ales should. Even if you’re not a fan of kölsch beers, you have to admire how well Hellbender Brewing Company configured the temperatures in regard to the yeast strain and the use of the Munich malt.

The sound: Well-balanced, some rough edges in the beginning, but mellowed out on the finish – definitely sounds like a collection of instrumentals by Grap Luva. In particular, his Sounds of Mount Vernon album. For those in-the-know, you’re probably saying, “He’s not from the DMV,” which is very true. What is also true is the fact that Grap has been a staple in the DMV hip-hop scene with the Low Budget Crew for some years, thus warranting him eligible for this pairing. Not to mention, this album is congruent with the flavors of Hellbender’s Bare Bones Kölsch. Aggressive on the front, easy on the end. Grap’s albums follow this formula; however this one in particular is easy in the beginning and more “rugged” toward the end. Give it a listen. And while you’re at it, head over to Hellbender to try out their other flavors on tap, and kick it in the taproom for awhile. Hellbender Brewing Company: 5788 2nd St. NE, DC;

Pairing #2
Denizens’ Third-Party Belgian-Style Tripel + The Skip Castro Band’s Boogie at Midnight

The numbers: 9.4 percent ABV 

The taste: I love Belgian styles. When most are scanning brewery menus for the latest IPAs, I find great solace and political freedom in saisons, dubbels and tripels. Sure, it may seem prejudiced to most, but I like to think of it as me always being right about my life decisions, as well as yours. So first things first, this is a pretty “big” beer if we’re talking alcohol by volume (ABV), and stays true to the normalcy of tripels as it relates to their potential spiciness. Denizens adds a corner of creativity by adding Belgian candi sugar to the batch to elevate the flavor just a tad, without the loss of spice. Sweet, spicy and a hefty calculation of booziness will always equate to a good time for all. 

The sound: I feel this beer would be great for a group of people who enjoy dancing. Something about this beer screams “festive,” and there’s only one piece of vinyl good enough to parallel Third-Party’s flavor. Nothing spells “sweaty” and unbuttoned Oxfords mixed with high beer consumption on festival lawns than Skip Castro. In Charlottesville, Va., you can always hear the band’s music played in the vicinity of uncoordinated fans between the ages of 55 and 65. But when the beer is as good as Denizens’ Third-Party Tripel, the weather is hot, and there’s a sale on deep-fried Oreos and fried ‘gator tails, who’s really giving thought to the how crazy and UFC-like their dancing is? These two definitely are a perfect pair.

Denizens Brewing Co.: 1115 East West Highway, Silver Spring, MD; 

Pairing #3
Atlas Brew Works’ Saison de Fetes + Charlie Parker’s The Genius of Charlie Parker

The numbers: 7.1 percent ABV 

The taste: I’m going to ride this Belgian train just a tad bit longer. Next stop, Atlas Brew Works’ Saison de Fetes – by far my favorite out of all the beer they have on tap in their newly constructed taproom (since May 2016). It’s prepped in an engraved tulip (great for aromas), with the perfect amount of carbonation and well-balanced flavors of spice and malt. Random aside, I always feel like eating Reese’s Pieces while drinking this. But most importantly, I feel a wave of maturity when I drink this beer. I feel as though I should be acting like a late 30-something-year-old who only talks credit scores and city government policy hearings.

The sound: But because I refuse to speak on these topics on the regular, I’ll result to pairing this saison with the likes of a musical genius. So much of a genius that he may only be appreciated by authentic music lovers. No, Charlie Parker is not from the DMV. However, the song “KoKo” is on this album, which is one of the songs Parker performed at his legendary DC show in 1948. It’s very much warranted for this list, mainly because you can’t play beer pong and listen to jazz. When the bebop is on rotation, you’re probably relaxing and taking in the textures. If you’re looking for a supplement to this state of mind, I highly recommend the La Saison de Fetes. It’s definitely the bridge for those who don’t associate a good beer with formal events, or a nice dinner. Play this and drink this, and watch your perceptions shift.

Atlas Brew Works: 2052 West Virginia Ave. #102, NE, DC; 

Pairing #4
3 Stars’ Southern Belle + Kev Brown’s Brazil Dedication 

The numbers: 8.7 percent ABV 

The taste: So, bear with me. For this pairing, it’s not as obvious. The brown ale by 3 Stars Brewing Company is truly immaculate in flavor and profile. Never have I tasted a beer with such layered flavor. Chocolate, yes. Wheat, yes. Malt, yes. The balance of these flavors is damn near perfect. Each of the aforementioned flavors are so intense and colorful on the palate that it’s almost like walking the streets of the Getsemani neighborhood in Cartagena, Colombia – or the colorful vibes of Brazilian jazz.

The sound: So naturally, I turned to Largo, Md. native Kev Brown’s Brazil Dedication. 3 Stars’ Southern Belle is visually one color; however, the taste is multicolored. This brown ale is perfect for warm weather; in particular, the Caribbean or coastal Latin America – and in this case, Brazil. Kev Brown’s ode to Brazil is as layered in colors as Southern Belle is in flavor. Though I’ve never been to Brazil, this album does evoke the vibe of a festive street party in a narrow alley with colorful, graffiti-filled walls. Just as the cultural lineage of Brazil runs deep, the relatively thorough ABV should grant you assistance in enjoying this album. These two are as harmonious as yucca, red snapper and avocado. 3 Stars hit the jackpot with this one.

3 Stars Brewing Company: 6400 Chillum Pl. NW, DC; 

Pairing #5
DuClaw Brewing Company’s Dirty Little Freak + Not Even’s Pant Sale 

The numbers: 5.8 percent ABV, 30 IBU 

The taste: Just like Southern Belle, you’re going to get some pretty tasty chocolate notes rounded out with some coconut from this DuClaw product. More importantly, I didn’t purchase this beer at DuClaw’s Brewery in Bowie, Md. I decided to keep thing all the way local – like a five-minute walk local – and stop by my favorite neighborhood store for craft beer, Fenwick Beer & Wine. This little, quaint, almost doctor’s office-esque store has everything from Weihenstephaner wheat beer to imported Belgian lambics to this lovely brown ale. As much as I love visiting breweries, I’m equally in love with knowing I don’t have to travel far to get my “pick of the litter.” The Dirty Little Freak is not complex at all. No frills, no gimmicks. Brown, chocolate, coconut, aromas and taste. Perfect. 

The sound: Fittingly, Bethesda-based 80s pop band Not Even’s Pant Sale is the perfect match. Nothing screams DMV more than a local craft beer from a local neighborhood store paired with a local band reminiscent of The Ramones and Green Day. And other than blue crab, Terrapin basketball and speed cameras, nothing says Montgomery County more than these three pairings of beer, store and band. 

Follow Jamaal Lemon on Instagram: @thewayfarerstudy.

Photos: Lindsay Galatro, Trent Johnson and Cristina O’Connell
Photos: Lindsay Galatro, Trent Johnson and Cristina O’Connell

Vinyl Talk with DC’s Record Store Owners

By Monica Alford and Trent Johnson

National Record Store Day is just around the corner, celebrating 10 years on April 22 with special releases and other vinyl-themed treats. In a city that embraces vinyl with open arms, where vinyl-only dance nights and listening parties are popping up around town and owning a record player is becoming increasingly essential, it only seemed natural to catch up with the folks providing the tunes. We chatted with the owners of eight record stores in and around the city about their plans for RSD 2017, DC’s thriving vinyl scene and everything else in between.

Joe Lapan and Alisha Edmonson
Songbyrd Music House & Cafe

On Songbyrd’s ambiance: We are a very relaxed, comfortable place. We have tried to be very warm and inviting and wanted to design a place that was accessible to a wide audience. [AE]
Who hangs there: Our customers run the gamut, from the music writer that works in the record cafe to the neighborhood local that comes for dinner and a drink to the record junkie. We’ve tried to make space for all types of music fans. [AE]

On what they carry: We specialize primarily in “new” records (i.e., fresh, unwrapped), but our selection ranges from soul and hip-hop to jazz and rock – classic albums as well as the best new records. It is also important to us to feature and provide space for local DC records. [JL]

What’s on the schedule: We have a really robust live show and music-based party calendar. We have touring acts and local bands of a variety of genres, and a lot of fantastic events like all-vinyl dance parties and listening parties. We partner with folks all the time! We just hosted a DC label record fair in partnership with D.C. Music Download featuring over a dozen DMV-based labels. [JL]

The vinyl connection: I think records and music are so connective! There are no boundaries with music and so you get to have really unique experiences with people that aren’t about what someone does, or any of those typical interactions. The conversations lean more toward learning where someone first heard a band or why they love a certain genre. [AE]

Why they love vinyl: Music on vinyl inherently lends itself to caring about, learning about and paying attention to what you are listening to. [JL]

RSD plans: DJ Nitekrawler spinning brunch, a series of live acts all day and evening, DJ Neville C spinning Ritmos Raros at night, and RSD releases in stock

Songbyrd Music House & Record Cafe: 2475-2477 18th St. NW, DC;

Neal Becton
Som Records

On life before Som: I worked in the newsroom of the Washington Post from 1993 to 2003. I also DJed. Before that, I was a bartender and hotel manager.

On genres: We are a generalist store, so we specialize in good records in all (or almost all) genres. We sell new and used, but our stock is probably 80/20 used/new.

Record players: I have six Technics 1200s: two in my shop (listening station and store stereo), two at home and two in my storage unit, which I use for weddings and gigs.

Fave spots to hear vinyl: I LOVE playing Showtime [as DJ Neville C] for the vibe and crowd. I also love Songbyrd because it’s got great sound, and is such an oasis in Adams Morgan.

Daily routine: I usually grab a stack of records at home each morning before I work. If I have a DJ gig coming up, I’ll bring records I might be playing there. I also play stuff I have in the shop, but not always.

On the best part of the gig: Best is hanging out in a record store all day listening to music and talking to people about music.

RSD plans: A lot of RSD titles in stock, gift certificates and “trying to get folks in and out of the shop in one piece” when it gets packed

Som Records: 1843 14th St. NW, DC;

David Schlank
CD Cellar

On his customers: It takes all kinds, and we’ve got them. Obsessive music lovers keep my business going. I love them all.

Best part of the gig: The people. The customers. They’re from all over the world. They have far-reaching tastes in music. They’re well-traveled. And there’s so much disposable income.

Strong points: Our rock/pop and jazz sections, but blues, folk, classical, electronic/dance and R&B are also very strong, we [just] don’t get as much traded in.

Anything goes: We play a little bit of everything in the shop: loads of jazz, rock ‘n’ roll from the 50s and on, classic R&B, blues, indie pop, etc. It’s whatever we’re in the mood for. I’m often in the mood for Slayer, but sometimes the customers aren’t. I try to get a feel for the room before I blast The Prodigy or Pharoah Sanders.

Fave vinyl/retro happenings around town: Ritmos Raros, Tighten Up! Soul and Reggae, Biff Bang Pow and of course, Mousetrap and The Wag. I’m there to hear music and have a good time.

Music that keeps him going at work: Black Sabbath, The Smiths, Style Council, Funkadelic or a random funk/soul compilation.

On vinyl’s popularity: Vinyl is less exotic now. It’s everywhere. Bars and barbershops use vinyl as a draw, and that’s fine by me. I hope it continues for many years to come.

RSD plans: Important titles in stock, coffee and pastries, and “let the customers go crazy”

CD Cellar: 105 Park Ave. Falls Church, VA;

Noah David
Gumbo Records

Reason for location: I opened the shop in the spring of 2013 out of a garage a couple blocks from my house. There was never a conscious decision of, “Oh, I’m going to open a record shop in a back-alley garage.” It just kind of evolved from me selling on Craigslist into going more public with it. People liked the off-the-beaten-path aspect.

Gumbo’s vibe: The feel of my shop is kind of a Mississippi roadside juke joint: rough around the edges [but] a comforting spot.

On Gumbo customers: My customers are mostly folks from the neighborhood who have heard about it and like weaving it into a Saturday morning walking their dog (we are dog-friendly).

What’s in stock: Mostly blues, jazz and R&B. I currently only carry used vinyl, but am hoping to start stocking new vinyl from some of the local record labels.

Favorite vinyl DJ night: I enjoy Neal Becton’s [DJ Neville C] Ritmos Raros night he does every month.

On what makes vinyl special: People have this desire in the digital age to hold on to something – to touch and feel and have that visceral experience that is really unique to vinyl.

Why he can’t quit vinyl: I love those first few seconds when you drop the needle and the music hits. It’s just pure satisfaction.

How to connect with Gumbo on social media: @gumborecords

RSD plans: 33 rpm Spread Music/Spread Love sale with 33 1/3 percent off all vinyl if you bring a non-perishable food item for the Capital Area Food Bank

Gumbo Records (temporary location): The little orange garage behind 940 Shepherd St. NW, DC;

Bill Daly
Crooked Beat

On why vinyl is still relevant: It’s fun, and it’s a bigger medium. You can read what’s on the record covers. In 1990, I got a CD player, and I felt cheated.

Crooked Beat regulars: We never focused on Billboard’s Top 100, and we still don’t. It’s not us being snobs. We’ll sell maybe seven Adele records per year, but we’ll sell 150 Fugazi records per year.

Genres covered: Indie stuff, and reggae. In used stuff, we specialize in classic rock, soul and alternative. You know when you come to us, you’ll be able to find old alternative, back catalogue stuff. You’ll see all The Smiths, Depeche Mode and The Clash albums here, but you’ll also see David Bowie and The Velvet Underground.

On why RSD matters: It’s a way for people to get their stuff out there for people to see. The way things are in 2017 America, there aren’t many mom-and-pop places left; it’s all mainstream. If you go to a chain looking for records, you’re not going to see the local bands like Fugazi. You’re only going to see what the status quo wants.

On Crooked Beat’s RSD release, Recutting the Crap: It’s a tribute to The Clash; mostly their obscure stuff. A lot of these bands are from all over the U.S. It’s from our record label; the album will be our 17th release.

RSD plans: Pre-RSD golden ticket drawing, grab bags filled with swag and 80 percent of RSD’s 600 releases in stock

Crooked Beat: 802 N Fairfax St. Alexandria, VA;

Rob Norton
Hill & Dale

On his relationship with vinyl: I grew up listening to vinyl records and cassettes. I taught myself how to play drums by playing along to entire sides of LPs nonstop. Whatever song came next, I learned to play – or tried. Most of my records were classic and progressive. Later, I started listening to college rock [and] alternative bands like R.E.M., The Smiths and Pylon.

On Hill & Dale’s vibe: The shop is very clean and spare, probably reflecting my OCD. We also offer framed photographs and collectible posters, so the store looks a lot like an art gallery. We really want visitors to feel welcome to hang out, talk to us about music and enjoy the shop.

Best sellers: Our biggest sellers tend to be new releases from current alternative/indie bands, classic rock staples and jazz. Our all-time best seller is Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue.”

What plays in the shop: Some days it will be all jazz, and others it will be a mix of new bands, Iron Maiden and electronica.

On his goals for Hill & Dale: Right now, we specialize in new records, and I would like to offer used/vintage records for customers who love searching bins for old treasures.

RSD plans: Giveaways, special releases, and coffee and snacks in the morning

Hill & Dale: 1054 31st St. #010, NW, DC;

Matt Moffatt
Smash Records

On in-store play: There are no rules. It’s whatever the person wants to listen to. I used to work at a cheesy chain, and you used to have to play the cheesy chain in-store tape. It’s nothing like that. It would not be very punk if we had a different system.

Smash’s focal point: Punk is our forte, if you come in the store, I think it’s pretty clear that’s what we go for. But rock ‘n’ roll in general is what we peddle.

Where he finds new music: A good thing about this job is that a lot of times, people come to you on a one-on-one level. And it’s all local, so it’s actually music made by people that live in DC.

On supporting the local punk scene: Being connected to these local bands that still take the time to put out physical music and drop off a couple of copies at the store, that’s real ground level. So that’s what we want to support

CDs are like candy bars: We still sell CDs. People are always kind of shocked, and I’m like, “People buy CDs like I would buy a candy bar, you know?” At 7-Eleven, sometimes you want a Snickers. At Smash, sometimes you want a James Brown CD.

RSD plans: A bunch of RSD titles in stock, refreshments and snacks, and doubles as the store’s anniversary party

Smash Records: 2314 18th St. NW, DC;

Gene Melkisethian
Joint Custody

On life before Joint Custody: James [Ritter, co-owner] has had a few office jobs over the years. I have helped run a family music business since I could hold a packing knife.

On his lifelong relationship with vinyl: Both James and I were raised in households where collecting old/strange/interesting things was a fact of life. We both also come from a punk background, the one place (besides hip-hop, which we were also immersed in) where vinyl never really went away. I put out my first record in early 1997 [Melkisethian is a drummer in hardcore punk bands], and every release since then has been primarily a vinyl release. The same goes for James.

On DC’s vinyl scene: Every record store in DC gets along and supports one another, [but] the real winners are the music lovers. I travel a lot and trust me when I say that for the relatively small size of the city, DC is world-class when it comes to the record scene. We have more good stores now than we did 10 years ago.

On vinyl’s relevance: The medium is very important to taking in a creative work: the size of an LP cover, the length limitations of an LP that force artists to put thought into the sequencing of songs, the richness in fidelity – all of this creates an experience that cannot be replicated in the digital realm.

RSD plans: Giveaways, extra treats and essential non-RSD releases in stock for record store newbies

Joint Custody: 1530 U St. NW, DC;


Avenir Pumpkin Festival 2016

Guests at Avenir Pumpkin Festival enjoyed food from area restaurants along with fall fun, trick-or-treating, pumpkin decorating, live music from Justin Trawick, pumpkin brews at the beer garden and more. Photos: Mark Raker