I have only two reference points for this area:
1. Spa Water
2. Worcestershire Sauce
both of which I am a fairly regular consumer of.
The town itself consists of a couple of streets, a theatre and a statue of Edwrd Elgar (OK, I know there is more to it than that, but this is a condensed short intoduction (or it was until I added that explanatory note)).
The main street boasts the usual small town shops: a butcher, baker (didn't see a candle-stick maker), cafes/restaurants and a couple of pubs.
But also, surprisingly for a town with a total population of about 25,000 (according to Wikipedia), down a small side street was a small area of outstanding natural beauty - Carnival Records.
Yes, an independent Record Shop in a small non-descript town in the shadow of some very big hills.
The shop itself is (as I understand it) about a year old, and it must be doing something right, because on both occassions that I visited it over the weekend it was busy (not full to the rafters with customers, but there were a fair few people in there).
It would have been easy to spend a good few hours and a small mortgage in there rummaging through new releases, second hand CDs and Vinyl - but this being the wife's birthday weekend, spending was somewhat curtailed (I only bought a copy of "Deutsche Elektronische Musik Volume 2").
Carnival Records is listed to participate in Record Store Day on 20th April - a chance to visit and celebrate all the independent Record Shops and purchase the new special releases from artists like Anthrax, Big Country, Billy Bragg and Paul Weller (and others - these are just the ones I've "got my eye on").
Record Store Day - website
There are two stores close to me who will be participating, namely The Sound Machine in Reading and
Henley Records (currently in the process of relocating/renaming as In The Groove).
Will I be visiting either of these on the 20th?
Yes, I will probably visit both. And then I will find that, like last year, a bunch of opportunists and shysters have got to the front of the queue, bought up all the special releases, and are currently flogging them on e-bay for twice the original purchase price (bastards!).
Besides, why wait for the one day in the year when your reminded that independent record stores exists - make a point of seeking them out and visiting them regularly. It is (honestly) a great way to spend an afternoon (at least that is what I think, not sure about the Mrs though ("hanging around with a bunch of nerds" is the commonly uttered phrase)).
And now a word from the Official Ambassador - Jack White:
Still not convinced about indepent Record Shops?
Try this ...
I will be planning another weekend away soon, and I will be armed with the usual guidance documents:
- a copy of the book "Never Mind the Bollards: A Road Trip Around Englands Rock & Roll Landmarks"
- The Independent Record Shop Directory in Mojo
- a copy of "Last Shop Standing"
"I didn't expect to see that", I will say.
"You lying git", will probably be the reply from Mrs D.