“Nothing can replicate the intimacy of putting on your favorite album.” When it comes to the power of playing records, David Swider, owner of Oxford, Mississippi’s End of All Music, is here to spread the gospel. “Vinyl is the most engaging way to enjoy the music you love. You get the beautiful artwork, the liner notes, the physicality of it. It makes you slow down, and in 2019, there’s really nothing else like that.”
Though streaming services dominate much of today’s music consumption, Swider isn’t the only one embracing nostalgia. Every spring since 2008, vinyl fanatics across the globe have gathered to celebrate Record Store Day, this year on Saturday, April 13. The idea was conceived at a 2007 gathering of shop owners and industry pros in Baltimore, Maryland, and has now spread to nearly 1,200 independent stores in the U.S., plus countless more abroad. At the crack of dawn, music lovers queue up outside neighborhood shops to snag limited-edition records released exclusively for the occasion. A number of locations book live, in-store performances, too—this year, Nashville’s Grimey’s will host Music City acts Anderson East and Alanna Royale, as well as Charleston-based SUSTO; at Greenville, South Carolina’s Horizon Records, former Band of Horses guitarist Tyler Ramsey will take the stage.
The list of titles released on Record Store Day, totaling at more than four hundred this year, has grown significantly since the event’s inception. The selection ranges from reissued classics to brand-new material, extended cuts of beloved albums to unearthed forgotten recordings. Participating shops place orders for these titles, but the records are pressed in limited quantities, making each copy a rare find. “We stock as many RSD exclusives as we can get our hands on, but they’re available on a first-come first-serve basis,” notes Andy Vaughn of Huntsville, Alabama’s Vertical House Records.
In 2019, local record shops still play a key role in the Southern music scene. “It’s a matter of community,” says Gene Berger of Horizon. “They give like-minded travelers and collectors a common watering hole.” The stores are essential hubs for artists, too: “Most shops serve as a connection point for local and regional bands,” echoes John Miller, a co-owner of Memphis’ Shangri-La Records. “And in many ways, a record store is a tourism office as well, helping visitors connect with the culture of the city.”
Record Store Day attests that people still crave the physical process of buying music, from chatting with shop owners to hearing the first scratch of the needle. As Vaughn puts it, “People still like to spend their money on actual, tangible media. Every year we see more and more folks starting a collection.”
Ahead of Saturday’s festivities, we’ve rounded up special RSD releases from fifteen Southern artists, spanning genres and generations. This weekend, visit a local shop to hunt down a copy of your own. “When the next big thing in music comes around, you’ll be glad you held onto your records,” Swider vows. “We promise.”
Al Green, The Hi Records Singles
Mississippi’s Fat Possum Records has complied a box set of Green’s 70s-era singles, including “Let’s Stay Together” and “I’m Still In Love With You.” The RSD package also includes a hard-cover book filled with photos and essays by music critics Bob Mehr, Geoffrey Himes, and others on the heart of Memphis soul.
Allman Brothers Band, Bear’s Sonic Journals: Fillmore East. February 1970
This concert recording pulls from three nights of Allman Brothers shows in February 1970, just one year before the legendary live album At Fillmore East was recorded in the same venue. Among these early tracks is the first known concert recording of “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.”
Anderson East, Alive in Tennessee
Nashville up-and-comer Anderson East releases a live recording of his September 2018 Ryman gig, featuring tracks from his albums Delilah and Encore.
Aretha Franklin, The Atlantic Singles 1967
Fans of the Queen of Soul, rejoice; RSD delivers a limited-release box set containing a collection of seven-inch singles, among them the iconic “Chain of Fools” and “Respect.”
This special reissue of the Athens-based band’s 1982 EP is newly available on light blue, twelve-inch vinyl, featuring classic grooves “Loveland,” “Deep Sleep,” and “Mesopotamia.”
Emmylou Harris, The Studio Albums 1980-83
Snag five essential Harris albums—Roses in the Snow, Evangeline, Cimarron, Last Date, and White Shoes—on black vinyl, as well as a bonus single of “That Lovin’ You Feelin’ Again,” featuring Roy Orbison.
Following his unforgettable ’68 Comeback Special, the King burst back onto the scene with a show at Vegas’ International Hotel. Live at the International Hotel is the only-ever released audio from the concert, bookended by “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Can’t Help Falling In Love.”
Julien Baker, Red Door/Conversation Piece
Memphis-born singer-songwriter Julien Baker treats fans to two previously-unavailable tracks—a live recording of “Red Door,” and “Conversation Piece,” an unreleased song from 2017’s Turn Out The Lights.
James Brown, Sho Is Funky Down Here
This psychedelic, instrumental album is regarded as something of an oddity in the Godfather of Soul’s repertoire. The RSD release is the 1971 record’s first reissue, including a booklet with extensive annotation, liner notes by Brown historian Alan Leeds, and never-before-seen photos.
John Hiatt and Lilly Hiatt, You Must Go!/ All Kinds of People
A pair of Nashville musicians—also father and daughter—try their hand at one another’s work. Southern rocker Lilly Hiatt covers a track from her dad’s 1995 album, Walk On, and John lends his voice to a song off Lilly’s 2017 release, Trinity Lane.
John Paul White, The Hurting Kind (Deluxe)
Formerly of the Civil Wars, the Alabama-based singer-songwriter is back with his latest solo project, co-produced by the Alabama Shakes’ Ben Tanner. This deluxe record promises exclusive bonus tracks available only on the RSD edition.
Louis Armstrong, Disney Songs the Satchmo Way
Originally released in 1968, Disney Songs was one of Armstrong’s last studio recordings. Of the album, the trumpeter-singer said, “I haven’t enjoyed anything better than our recording session since—well, I can’t remember when.” Re-released for RSD, the record includes sing-alongs from “When You Wish Upon a Star” to “The Bare Necessities.”
Marc Maron/Various Artists, In The Garage: Live Music from WTF with Marc Maron
Podcast host Marc Maron has chatted with countless musicians in his garage, many of whom have laid down a track or two during their interviews. In the Garage is the first and only compilation of those recordings, featuring solo acoustic performances by Jason Isbell, Margo Price, and others.
6 String Drag, The Jag Sessions (Rare & Unreleased 1996-1998)
Raleigh-based 6 String Drag offers up a rare collection of live tracks and demos, many of which later appeared on the Americana act’s hit ’97 album, High Hat.
Following his Guy Clark tribute album released earlier this spring, modern-day Texas outlaw Steve Earle offers a few additional, solo-recorded Clark tracks that didn’t make the record.