Record Store Day 2023 | Music | Salt Lake City Weekly

Record Store Day 2023 

The resurrection of vinyl

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  • Sophie Caligiuri

Our means of production have bent backwards toward the mindset that what is instantaneous is also an advancement, and in today's hustle and bustle, music has lost nearly all physicality. Available now directly at our fingertips in borderline frightening immediacy, music streaming services have split the vinyl industry—especially the indie record shop—at the seams.

With Record Store Day (RSD) quickly approaching (April 22nd!), Michael Maccarrone (owner of Sound and Vision Vinyl), and Rob Fenn (owner of Memento Mori) cut straight to the chase: why RSD–and vinyl itself–still f--king rocks.

Sound and Vision Vinyl opened in 2015 and looks exactly how a proper record haunt should. The quintessential ambiance of the shop coheres, given Maccarrone is a seasoned record shop virtuoso, running 10 different stores in New York from 1978 to 2010 before "making a wrong turn in New Jersey'' and ending up in Salt Lake City.

Fittingly named after the Bowie song, crossing the shop's threshold, one can't help but think they are no longer "waiting for the gift of sound and vision" (as Mr. Stardust himself once said)—they've found it.

While signed posters jacket the walls, action figures, stereo equipment and instruments sit happily in their rightful places, nothing distracts from the legion of vinyl cases carefully filed and completely filled. Of the shop, Maccarrone says: "most people seem to enjoy my insanity, so it's been a fun ride."

Memento Mori was described by Fenn as "a place where Johnny Cash would grab a haircut, Elton John would grab the latest vinyl release and Edgar Alan Poe would tell stories over a game of 8-ball." The business brings a razor's-edge to the indie record store–pun intended.

Opened in July of 2022 by Fenn and "better half" Lindsey Armstrong, along with friend Rob Valdez, Memento Mori currently operates as a barber shop. On RSD, the trio will expand their storefront to encompass a full-blown record shop and art gallery, with all the waxed and ready to play vinyl greedy fingers can grab. In answer to why the barber shop/record stop/art gallery combo, Fenn says "It dawned on me that you cannot order a haircut on Amazon. So, if I put in a couple barber chairs, then I could have a record shop." Fair enough.

Sound and Vision and Memento Mori may appeal to different audiences, but both intersect at the heart of their business conviction: a rapture with music. Both disclose this straightforwardly and with a two-pronged approach.

First, they pay their due diligence to the medium in which music was meant to be experienced: on vinyl. Secondly, they mold environments in which other music aficionados can discover the raw power of the wax, RSD being just one avenue both have trotted down to benefit listeners and build creative communities here in SLC.

Still—why does RSD matter in 2023? Maybe the answer is simpler than we realize: because music matters. And if music matters, we owe it to ourselves to make listening an experience rather than a pastime. "Let's face it: all that bullshit on your Pocket Jesus, you don't listen to it. You couldn't even tell me what's on your phone right now. So that's why I like vinyl," Fenn says.

"There's something about the needle drop, reading the liner notes, and seeing everything that goes into it." Maccarrone rings a similar bell. "Listening to a physical record is the closest thing to replicating the sound of being in the same room with that band. The record doesn't get put on the turntable by itself, the needle doesn't drop by itself. You're part of the entire process," he said.

Being part of something is formulaic to belonging—and where there is belonging, there is affectivity. Matching listeners to records on RSD is blanketed as a job, but for Maccarrone and Fenn, beyond logistics preparation and ordering forms, there rests an undeterred passion for the process.

"It makes me happy when I'm able to be the conduit to putting a smile on somebody's face. It's the greatest feeling in the world, especially with music and records. It's emotional. It's a connection that's very, very personal, and when you're involved, it's just a special feeling," says Maccarrone.

"That's the cool part of it," Fenn says. "Rediscovery. Generations that wouldn't quite know about vinyl getting to see it. The kid that never knew about Johnny Cash or David Bowie, maybe they grab that record this year. That's what gets me excited about Record Store Day. People discovering these artists, that in my mind, are just timeless."

Timelessness seems to be a theme for both men, with memory embedded into the framework of their shops, whether it be through paraphernalia or the name itself. But don't let tradition discourage your own dive into the culture of vinyl. "We're a place for everyone. It's not a niche or a clique, we don't care who you are or what your income is. We just want everyone to stop by and find something that they connect to in our shop," says Fenn.

As if they heard one another, Maccarrone says, "I want you to find a place that you love, and that you support, wherever it is you feel at home. Support them, give them love, because the people who are doing it are doing it out of love. I do this because I love this, and I love seeing people connect to it."

So it goes: allow a place for time on your side and embrace the possibility that there is no designated frame within which (or where) you should begin your own vinyl collection, although RSD 2023 and these two local music havens could be a serendipitous start.

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Sophie Caligiuri

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