August 30th, 2012, 12:21 pm · · posted by KELLI SKYE FADROSKI, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Vinyl records have become an obsession for Parker Macy. The 27-year-old singer-songwriter, known locally for his solo blues music as well as his time spent on guitar in heavy rock band Pistolero, has collected records for as long as he can remember.
A few years ago he began setting up stands in the Seed People’s Market, part of the Camp in Costa Mesa, to sell off some of his finds. So when the opportunity arose last February to rent an official spot inside the Lab across the street, Macy and his friend Bob Rodman jumped at the chance to open their own record shop.
Working out of his new location – a stationary, modified trailer just outside of Urban Outfitters – is a dream come true for Macy, who, after a trip to Portland to visit family, grew fond of the idea of running his own business via an unusual establishment.
“Back there they had a grilled cheese shop in a school bus and like bars set up in old prisons,” he recalls.
On March 2 of last year Macy and Rodman opened Creme Tangerine, named after the first line from George Harrison’s White Album track “Savoy Truffle.” The shop exclusively carries new and used vinyl records, cassette tapes and the occasional record player, when Macy can find and repair ones and keep them in stock.
“I have about 10 in the warehouse right now, but anytime I get a record player down here I try to make it as nice as possible and they’re usually gone within a couple of hours,” he says. “I’m trying to get more of that stuff in here but the demand is actually high, so the only one I have right now is the one playing music in the store.”
In a time when albums can be downloaded digitally in a matter of seconds to a cell phone or any other electronic device, Macy says his business is nonetheless thriving.
“I am addicted to it and I know I’m not alone,” he says. “Despite the economy and the technology, I figured this was worth a shot and it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. In this day and age, it’s not the main medium, but I’ve seen it increase drastically with each year. As vinyl sales go, I haven’t personally seen anything like it is now while I was just a customer, but as a shop owner, I’ll tell you, people really are hooked on it.”
Indeed, on any given weekend when touring artists come to Southern California, whether it’s an indie band packed into a small bar or a larger act in one of the region’s amphitheaters, they typically have vinyl copies of their wares for sale in the merchandise area. Even some of the newest rising bands performing at the Sunset Strip Music Festival earlier this month in West Hollywood were peddling releases on vinyl.
“I live right next to Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa, and of all the times I’ve been in there to see a band that’s nationally touring, 100 percent of the time they’ve had a vinyl record for sale,” Macy notes. “The smaller bands are starting to press their stuff on vinyl and bypass CDs all together. The digital thing is huge for local artists and there’s nothing wrong with an MP3 or a CD, but there’s just something so right about an actual record that makes those other formats less desirable for some people.”
Taking his business a step further, Macy started Creme Tangerine Records, which will release vinyl-only exclusives of local music. The first release will be a split 7-inch single featuring Jeramiah Red and Robert Jon & the Wreck. The former, OC Music Award winners for best new artist earlier this year, will contribute the track “Bottles,” while the Wreck, with guest vocals by Nicole Vaughn, added their song “Breaking Down the Road.”
The upstart label is hosting a release party featuring performances from both bands at La Cave in Costa Mesa on Sept. 15. Macy and his crew have pressed 500 copies of the split, available for pre-order at the store for $6, while at the show they will be selling limited-edition copies, featuring an alternate cover and bonus goodies.
“Those bands (including Vaughn and Her Lovely Band) … I’ve personally really enjoyed watching them play and watching them grow,” he says. “When you see someone doing something fun, you just want to be a part of it. That’s why we approached them with this. A lot of artists in the area I’m friends with because I’ve probably played with them live or Bob knows them from going to the shows, so it’s relatively easy to have a conversation over a cold beverage and say, ‘Hey, as long as I’ve got you here, we want to put your record out.’”
Creme Tangerine Records isn’t intended as a nonprofit, but it certainly isn’t the source of income for Macy and Rodman so far. They split the cost of the vinyl release; once they recoup that, profits will be shared with artists.
“We wanted to do this with integrity because labels can be such bastards,” Macy says. “We decided that any digital sales that the bands do or any publishing – like they get on a TV show or a commercial – with a song that’s on our release, we just don’t touch it, so that they can thrive as local musicians.
“It’s kind of like walking around with some hands around your neck when you’re signed to a label, and we don’t want that. We wanted to make sure we actually did what we thought a label should do, which is be a vendor of the actual merchandise and not a vendor of the artistic material.”
In the near future, Macy has another 7-inch release planned with folk artist Billy Kernkamp as well as a record of his own blues music, backed by a full band. In all, six vinyl releases are planned through the rest of the year, though the turnaround time in getting physical copies prepared may set that schedule back.
“That’s a perfect example of how much more popular vinyl has become,” he says. “Even three or four months ago, when I was getting quotes for when things could be delivered, it was at about five to six weeks. Now everybody and their mama is trying to get records pressed, so that turnaround has increased significantly.”
Macy is just as dedicated to providing fellow vinyl lovers the best selection at his shop, which is why he often can be found at swap meets in the early morning hours on weekends or scouring through estate sales for rare releases. He also orders from major distributors to carry current titles as well – say, from Jack White or the Black Keys.
“The best part of this is the hunt. I’ve got two boxes of fresh records here today that I can’t wait to price and put on the shelves because it was some fun digging.”
More recently he found a record by ‘60s rock group Coven titled Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls.
“It’s not exactly my bag, but Side 2 is really creepy, and I think there’s like a 15-minute satanic mass on it, which is really creepy,” he says. “It’s rare because it came out right before the Charles Manson murders, and once that happened anything that was related to the occult, especially in that heavy of a degree, was taken off the shelves pretty quickly. It’s worth a listen because it’s very fascinating, but it gets a little unnerving.”
The Creme Tangerine Record Release Show, with Jeramiah Red, Robert Jon & the Wreck and Nicole Vaughn, takes place Sept. 15 at La Cave, 1695 Irvine Ave., in Costa Mesa. Admission is free, 21 and older.
Photo by Eugene Garcia, for the Orange County Register
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