Taking away our independents

Very soon, the music shop Road Records on Dublin’s Fade street will be closing its doors for the last time. This is a great loss, particularly to the independent Irish music scene. The shop was special to many people, and you can check out their excellent website
Unfortunately I’m ashamed to say I’ve never been in Road Recs, all the times I’ve been in Dublin in the last eight years. I know from talking to people, particularly on the Frames message board that Dave and Julie know their stuff, and provided a great service to bands, musicians and music fans alike. Hopefully they can put their musical knowledge to good use in the future.

Cool Discs in Derry is, i imagine, the Northern Ireland equivalent of Road Records. Opened since 1996, it has done a lot to promote Irish music in the area. Its owner, Lee Mason was responsible for bringing many well-known artists to Derry, and promoting their work by telling any customers who might be even slightly interested.

I remember my first time in the shop. I was 10, and really starting to love REM. I was obsessed with their song ‘stand’ (probably because of the silly lyrics) and needed it on CD. I bought their album Green for £6.99, and saw it in Virgin the same day for a pound dearer. I loved cool Discs right away!
I started liking the Frames in 2001, beginning my love of Irish acoustic, folk and alternative music. I tried to buy as many albums as possible, and would save for weeks for a particular album. This was when I was in school, with no money, but buying an album then was a big deal. I bought many albums, singles and gig tickets in CoolDdiscs. I remember buying the frames album ‘dance the devil’ with birthday money my granny gave me, and when I went to Pay, Lee changed my copy for a copy that Glen had signed when he visited the shop previously. Needless to say I was very impressed, even though I can’t even see the signature!!

It’s a pleasure to buy music from people who know what they are selling. The staff in Cooldiscs recommend albums and discuss the ones I bought the next time I come in. They always tell me about upcoming gigs and bands who will be playing in their shop. Unfortunately I have not been able to attend as many instores there as I’d have liked too, but seeing musicians play there has always been special. I’ recorded a 40 minute gig Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova aka the swell season performed there in 2006, and listening to it brings back great memories. I can go into Cooldiscs the day an album I like is released and the staff nearly know what I’m looking for before I ask.

Trips to Cooldiscs have become more frequent since I got OJ, because I can find the shop myself. It is conveniently located beside the bus depot, and I am usually too early for the bus home from work. OJ finds the door and walks straight up to the counter, where he waits patiently until I have finished talking about music and finally decided what I want.

I dread the day that Cooldiscs follows Road Records and closes down. CD sales are decreasing rapidly everywhere due to the Internet, music downloads, and people who rob the industry by not paying for music anymore. I’m not a fan of downloading, preferring to have a physical copy of the music I buy. I’ll admit I have bought albums from stores like Tesco’s and HMV, because they are often cheaper, but these people are only interested in making money and couldn’t care less about the music they are selling.

From now on I’m going to make more of an effort to avoid the multi-nationals and support independent retailers like Cooldiscs. I know I can’t exactly keep them in business forever, but they appreciate the custom more than others do. If you happen to be in Derry and want some new music, call into Cooldiscs and give them your support. I’m going in next week to buy the Fleet Foxes and new Bruce Springsteen albums, and who knows what else i’ll find.

“Food for Thought: Music Junkies,Please support all independent record stores where ever you are in the world, in general we provide a much better service in terms of knowledge and expertise, we are all music junkies and we don’t sell cans of beans!!!And if you are ever tempted to buying a copy-just stop and think for a minute, the only person you are helping is whoever you are buying from, and all they are after is your money-no interest in the music whatsoever-ultimately you are contributing to the downfall of all good Independent Record Stores/Labels who work very hard at providing a service to the general public.Thank you for taking the time to visit us and where ever you are in the world, remember, the real stars are underground and nothing beats the real thing!!!”


6 thoughts on “Taking away our independents

  1. Definitely interesting. I’ll be watching your blog for future installments. As for myself? I’m old. Diagnosed with Stargardt’s at 38, I’m now 42, and still have very good vision. But I’m dreading the day. I’m married and have a 4-year-old crazy daughter. Rock on.

  2. Nice to hear from you, Swine.I hadn’t heard of stargarts until very recently, but seem to have came into contact with a few people who have it since then.Glad you enjoy the blog. 42 isn’t old at all!

  3. I’m so very glad to hear Cool Discs is still going strong! My wife, Shannon, and I visited there twice in 2000/2001 (I’m from the US) and Lee (and an employee named Jim) really treated us like royalty while there. They hooked me up with all kinds of great vinyl and gave us VIP treatment at two events they hosted at the time (“Head Nodding Society” and “Praise”) – two nights I’ll never forget. Some of my fondest travel memories are from my brief times in Londonderry, and I have Lee and Jim to thank for memories and stories that will truly last us a lifetime. Cool Discs is so much more than a music store – it’s the nerve center of a community of like-minded individuals, united under a shared love of art and in support of those who make it for us. Next time you stop by, tell him Bishop and Shannon say hello. It’s been a long time, so he probably won’t remember us, but ask him if he still has the custom Cool Discs watch my wife and I had made especially for him – it was a small gesture to show our appreciation for his incredible hospitality and truly touching gestures of friendship – to total strangers. Cool Discs is a very special record store, run by a very special kind of person, and I hope the local scene continues to support Cool Discs the way that Cool Discs has supported the local music scene for so many years. Your post really made my day. Just knowing Lee is still behind the counter, treating all who walk through those doors like family, gives me hope for the future of independent record stores. Of course, it’s really you who keeps a store like Cool Discs with us, so thank you, Jennifer, for doing your part. All the best, Bishop in West Palm Beach

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