Bellingham, Washington has always been a town that knows its music. For decades, music friends and fiends have lingered among the bricks and alleys of downtown Bellingham’s many record stores, guitar shops and live music venues… Inevitably, time has taken its toll on the scene and the landscape has changed over the years. Many of the great bars, record shops and local bands have moved on into the ether of legend and lore, though a few vestigial remnants have endured.
“All Killer, No Filler”
On any given day you can still wander downtown to the corner of Railroad and Magnolia and step into a veritable time machine of indie-rock heaven in the form of Avalon Music, Bellingham’s last local independent record store. A 27-year veteran of Bellingham’s thriving and by-all-means-still-kicking music scene, Avalon will take you back to a time before iTunes, MP3 players and American Idol. A wondrous and magical time when the incense burned in every room, tapestries hung from the rafters and music was made with actual instruments and performed by the people whose faces appeared on the album cover… (Ed. note: an “album” was a collection of music, usually in the form of a “record” or “compact disc”, whose exterior contained works of “art” in the form of pictures and graphics) Their unofficial motto pretty well sums it up:
“Avalon is so far ahead of it’s time, it is standing behind you”
Stocked with over 2000 records, 3000 CDs and 400 posters and tapestries, Avalon is THE place to cultivate a serious appreciation for music in Bellingham. Avalon has just 5 employees, all of whom are local, performing musicians. According to staffer Spencer Wilhoft, Avalon offers a “place to meet with like-minded people and nurture your taste in music, as opposed to surfing the internet alone in your living room. We are more in tune with your tastes than iTunes Genius.” He also offers tips on how to grow a seriously dapper mustache…just one of the many personalized touches you can get from a real record store… They specialize in rare and hard-to-find items, and will even do special orders for anything still in print at no additional charge. You’d be surprised at the amount of extraordinary music that exists outside the virtual walls of the iTunes kingdom.
This Saturday, April 17th, marks the annual national “Record Store Day.” Across the country, indie record stores will be offering special releases from a plethora of artists, many of which are only available in particular stores on that particular day. Avalon is celebrating the event by presenting some of these special releases, as well as offering sale prices on all of their music and hosting live music in front of the store from noon to 5pm. The live music will be tasty cross-section of musical styles, from Delta blues to heavy metal and classic rock.
Seriously folks, haven’t we had enough of plastic, talentless and vapid American Idols?! Real music is about art and passion and anger and vitality, and it is meant to be shared and experienced with other people, REAL people! So close your laptop, get off your couch and go support a local business and listen to something that makes you remember what it means to be alive!