When I moved to NYC I worked in a record store that was owned by the mob. It was called Soho Music Gallery and the mob were planning to run a bootlegging of ‘cut-outs’ operation out of an adjacent space. As a cover for that illegal operation they also distributed Tikva, an Israeli folk dance music label along with two fantastic ethnographic labels, Ocora and Barenreiter. My co-workers included John Zorn, Anthony Coleman, Anton Fier. Byrne and Eno who both lived in the neighborhood used to come in along with a lot of other musicians. It was a good size store with deep sections of African, Brazilian, Electronic, Jazz and Avant Garde music and I spent a good part of my salary on records there.
So much about what we knew about music came from opening all the albums in the store, reading the notes and listening. I also traveled a lot at the time and bought lp’s and cassettes where ever I went. Countries like Indonesia which had only government run record pressing plants went through a cultural explosion in the 1970′s when cassette duplication technology became prevalent and every culture (of which there were at least a couple of hundred in Indonesia alone) could have and had it’s own music industry.
Of course that was then and now is now. Now there is no need to have to open records, read liner notes and the obscure and out of the way music and places are all as close as our desktop. – – I went to Colombia last week. I am not intending to do a travel blog, I’ll leave that to others… but among what I thought interesting was I was told by Lucas Silva who has put out compilations of Afro Colombian music that while I was in Barranquilla i should go to a particular record store (and see Shane). Since he didn’t give me the address of that store I tried to see if it existed onine. It didn’t. But when I searched for it I found a blog posted by Miles Cleret the guy who owns Soundways Records about being in Barranquilla and being taken to this store by another blogger named Fabian who has an Afrocolombian Blog. So I wrote Fabian asking if wanted to hang out. In the meantime Lucas Silva emailed me back with the stores address so off I went. Then Fabien wrote that he would indeed like to hang out, I told him where I was and he came by the meet me.
After listening to a few hundred records I bought some and Fabian and I walked around the area to get lunch. Every once in a while we would pass someone Fabian knew and he would introduce me to them. “That guy has the best known soundsystema,” Fabian would say. And I thought here we are in a world that someone with a blog in Barranquilla is known more to people all around the world then to people in his home town. And the best soundsystem guy is known less.
Fabian started his blog because of his interest in African records. Because Barranquilla is a port city, records from all over the world have ended up there. Unbeknownst to me, half the albums I bought were not even Colombian but from Mozambique, Peru and Panama.
Fabian is selling some singles so he can buy a better computer. If you are interested they are found here.