Friday, October 18, 2013

The Last Bargain Hunt: Sugar Shack Records

For a week's vacation it sure hasn't felt like it.  Spending a night at Seminole Valley Park one night and hearing it rain and forgoing a St Louis trip in favor of a more familiar route in Madison, and having a mixed result time of it up there.  And having a moonlight drive home ruined by a fucking moronic driver playing speed up/slow down on the highway to the point that emergency was called and giving them a play by play of where and what this idiot was doing (the asshole was going 85 miles an hour at some time) till they got off at Platteville.  I only hope that the cops got the fool but doubt if they did.

It's been a 20 year tradition of driving up 151 to the Capital City, which is closer to me than Des Moines and still remains a marvel to go in and see, especially the overview of town when you go up to the top floor and see it all.  Basically, the Capital is a perfect short cut to into State Street.  And of course spending plenty of time and money at Ian's Pizza.  But you still see plenty of homeless people on the corner and in every nook and cranny of federal buildings up around King Street.  Outside of B Sides, no other record store in on State Street anymore.  A shame of an dying art of finding music.

And what about finding music you ask.  When you sort through countless stuff in the dollar bins at Half Priced Books or the 25 cent section in Pawn America you get the feeling that you're visiting the places where unwanted CDs die, where, you have jewel cases but no CDs, or in some cases, a CD R of the original album but for the most part two many CDs are scratched beyond reason and many jewel cases are cracked and need to be replaced themselves.  I simply have no use for Loverboy, even though there was a flawless copy of We Are The 80s, a best of, but Loverboy was one of those bands that I never liked outside of a couple songs (Notorious, Lady Of The 80s, which somehow didn't make the cut).  But last time I was there, they had a nice cymbal that would sound perfect on my next recording, a hard to find Paiste Innovations 18 inch medium crash.   And a bunch of quarter CDs that probably will be donated back to Goodwill somewhere down the road but in their shape, I can play them in the car stereo and not have to worry about the player marking them up with those 'player kisses', the slight smudges on the edge of the cd.  The imperfections of CD car stereo. 

The CD era of the 1990s was a big era of plenty of CDs, alas, most of the bands and rappers and country artists that released them sucked judging from the unwanted crap from that era.  Pawn America may as well put them out front with a free sign and still would have to eventually commit them to the landfill.  Still there's always a hope of finding a classic in the crap,  previous trips proved I could find a Pink Floyd Animals and Wish You Were Here, a Led Zeppelin 4 and The Randy Cliffs for a dollar.  As well the four CD box set Black Sabbath had as an import.  Somewhere out there, is a fan looking for that Rick Parker Geffen CD or Murray Attaway, or maybe CD 2 of The Beatles, which lost his mate years ago.

Shut out of the Half Priced Books finds (none to be had), I ended up going to the usual hangouts and Mad City Music Exchange had a bunch of jazz albums from Sonny Rollins and a 20K remaster of Jazz At Massey Hall, which Fantasy reissued in the early 2000s. Strictly Discs, had a couple promos from Real Gone and Move It On Over reissue from George Thorogood, Goodwill had nothing and I called it a night at the Microtel in the area next to Cracker Barrel and Pawn America.  The hotel has gone to hell as I had a room that the heater didn't work, the faucets leaked and some pimp or Whigger wanna be woke the place up with rap music at 5 30 AM in the rain and having his brights on in the process.  The alarming rise of stupidity continues it's upward trend.

In the reality of my surroundings of Ian's Pizza Friday, having a couple of pepperoni slices and watching the events all around me, two natty long hair dudes were talking up playing at the Majestic, some woman breast feeding her baby in front of anybody and of course the usual one fly bothering the hell out of me, I was thinking of locating the one record store that I have never visited in Madison, Sugar Shack on Atwood.  So leaving the folk behind I went back to the car and went off downtown into a more different part of town, with its own way and beauty,  The Barrymore Theater, and Leo Kottke playing, Sugar Shack was  a few blocks.  Walking in the spitting mist I finally went into Sugar Shack.

Sugar Shack, located in a house of sorts, where plenty of forgotten and sun bleached album covers and posters, walked into a a series of rooms, inside the door, the albums were, another room had CDs and 45s, the kitchen area had cassette tapes and a frig, another room had bargain bin LPs but it's what I'd called the room of unwanted LPs that are doomed to be stuck there forever, as well as DVDs and VHS tapes. Ace Ventura playing in the background.  The CD area I was stuck by old beer signs and beer cans and other memorabilia but since there was no window, the sun brightness, faded many of the signs and other notables.  A Cheap Trick Heaven Tonight Gold Award Plague was up there so long that the orange Epic label faded into gray.  The closest of a record store that's anything like Sugar Shack, is Toad Hall Books in Rockford (which I haven't been since 2002) or the old Sweet Living Antiques in Iowa City before the tornado took that out.  The fun of going into rooms like a maze.  Out of all the record stores in Madison, Sugar Shack is the more traditional of an throwback music store.  Or a junk shop.  The way a good record store used to be.

I fear the end of the music store.  Even though the bargains are better found at a FYE, or Hastings, the heart and soul remains a Mad City Music X, an Sugar Shack or Ragged Records.  And for three times a year would be part of making Madison a destination go to.  And you wish that there can be a continued support for the outdated media storage of albums and CDs and cassettes, to which Mad City Music actually had new cassettes in their selection now.  I don't like downloading a lot, being old school collecting music for almost an unheard of 50 years buying records and cds is the only thing I know.  But it's another way of music hoarding.  Nice to have a large collection but can't take it with you when you die anyway.  It all goes somewhere or to the landfill, unless some record collector or music store takes hold of it.

There was talk of perhaps doing something different before the snow flies.  Kirksville Missouri has the oldest record store and an Hastings and is about three hours from here.  But for now, the Madison fall tour once again didn't disappoint in finds but again for the second time in as many times, no albums were brought.  But it was nice to watch the moon rise over Lake Monona, rays reflected off the water and going home was treated to Billie Holiday singing what a little moonlight can do.    A shining moment before the darkness and the Deliverance gang coming off the exit ramp.

Wonder if the Platteville Police Department ever got them.

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