Record Store Day celebrated by shoppers at Johnny’s Records
DARIEN — Closing in on its 45th year of business, Johnny’s Records is more relevant than ever as a center for people’s beloved vinyl.
On Saturday the second of this season’s three Record Store Day events took place. And while there weren’t as many people expected to turn out, given the limited number of titles, over 100 records fans still paid a visit to Darien to get some special pressings.
“It’s really busy,” said John Konrad, who opened the store in October of 1975.
“Normally it’s in April,” he said, along with a Black Friday event the day after Thanksgiving.
But owing to COVID-19 considerations, the initiative—representing a collaborative between record store owners and staff—decided to split the main event into three—Aug. 29, Sept. 26, and Oct. 24, in order to reduce the traditional crowding that has earmarked the events since it began in 2007.
“Normally there’s a crowd going halfway down the block,” said Konrad in between juggling orders and vinyl requests, and yet only allowing a couple of customers at a time into his store.
“Records are becoming more popular now,” noted customer Marc Stein, who comes regularly from Weston to shop at the store.
“I like staring at the art on the walls and the photos,” he said, also noting it’s the only store of its kind in the region.
Today he came to get the limited pressings of an alternate version of Fleetwod Mac’s “Rumours” album, as well as Paul McCartney’s first solo album, “McCartney,” and a repressing of The Allman Brothers’ classic “Fillmore West” album.
“I like the expense and the inconvenience,” Michael Finkelstein of Greenwich joked about the joys of records.
But he added more seriously, “I’m an audio fan. I like the sound.”
Many others agree, as the analog representation of recorded music through an LP is literally physically different than the computer-processed sounds of music run through a digital format, which actually breaks the recording into miniscule but separate pieces of information.
People also love the art on the albums themselves, as well as the hands-on experience of playing a record.
“They’re fun to collect and there’s something about it not like a CD,” said Catherine Mattera of Stratford. “It’s unique.”
“If you really like music, it’s just another way to connect you to it,” she said.
She and her husband, Lucas, made the trip down to Johnny’s at one in the morning to be early for the sale, which in the past they said has necessitated hours of waiting for late arrivals.
“We got here at one in the morning and there was one person ahead of us,” Lucas noted.
They and others signed up for the phone call—or text—from Johnny’s staff in order to be admitted to the store, where they were able to get the Primus album they wanted—“Suck on This”—among others.
The pressings themselves, they explained, are limited—only 5,000 of the Primus album, for example—so there was no way of knowing how many copies Johnny’s might have to sell, or how quickly they would go.
“We’ve got to keep everybody in their cars,” Konrad said, remaining concerned that everyone is safe with their shopping and maintains mask coverage.
He said he expects the October event to be even bigger, as there will be more titles—“really, really great titles,” he said, noting that this month’s are far from bad but there just aren’t as many.
“My boyfriend actually requested this,” Kelly Troy of Norwalk said, having arrived at 7:45 a.m. to pick up his copy of “Fillmore West.”
“It’s a really cool vibe in there,” she said of the store. “They’ve got lots of vintage stuff in there.”
Steve Bernard of Harrison, N.Y., is another loyal customer who makes regular trips to the store—at least he did pre-pandemic—and was thrilled to get a favorite album by The Replacements.
“Johnny’s is a legend—always has been,” he said.
“I really haven’t done any shopping,” he said. “Only the essentials,” but this was worth the trip.”
“It makes you feel slightly human for a while,” he said, getting out and in the fray with his girlfriend—another record fan.
“And we’ll be here next month as well,” he said.
For more information on Johnny’s Records and upcoming events, visit https://www.facebook.com/johnnysrecordshop.