Record Store Day feature

The Turntable spins musical appreciation 365 days a year

Record Store Day is April 21.

In the recesses of Victoria’s historic Fan Tan Alley sits a narrow shop filled with music. Rows of records line the walls and fill the ceiling-high shelving unit that dominates the store’s centre. The fluid, wah-wah sounds of Sixties’ psychedelic, the sultry and sporadic swing of jazz and blues, the quiet and easy finger-picking of folk favorites, or most anything else can all be discovered within the tightly packed walls of the Turntable.

According to owner and operator Gary Anderson, a 60 year-old native of Victoria, the little record-store-that-could began in 1983-84 in The Public Market, located where Value Village now stands, before taking refuge in Canada’s narrowest street in 1986. Since that time the business has expanded and contracted like a slowly beating heart, growing into a multi-location establishment and shrinking back to its humble home in Fan Tan Alley as the record store industry surged and then receded around it.

Anderson’s interest in the industry began in late 1970 when he “babysat” a small, “Ma and Pa” record shop in Victoria that sold mostly 45’s and a few LP’s.

“Being that I was always so interested in it, I basically worked for this guy for free,” Anderson says as he leans against the shop’s cramped cash register counter. “I just wanted to be a part of it.”

The boom of digital and easy-to-steal music formats has depreciated the apparent necessity of a store like the Turntable, which specializes in used records, although they do carry some new releases. Digital downloading, however, lacks so many of the tangible joys that the music buying experience can offer, especially when dealing with used records.

“There are a lot of people who will say, ‘I wonder what this record’s story is,” Anderson says. “They’re holding this used record, its got some guy’s old signature scribbled on there, a couple digs in it, and they wonder ‘what was this record’s journey?’

And what about human connection? Sure, it is easy enough to Google a band or an album and learn about its history. But passing that information from person to person, like the oral storytelling traditions of ancient and indigenous cultures, reveals the idiosyncrasies and subtle nuances of a recording in a way that Google cannot.

“We have a lot of knowledge because we’re old,” laughs store manager Ernie Brach, 54, his purple tipped goatee lifting and falling as he speaks. “We’ve listened to music our whole lives, so when people come in and they are curious, they like this band or that band, and we can turn them on to another band, then I feel just like when I was a kid and someone was doing that for me. It’s nice to see because anybody who gets to listen to a tune they’ve never heard before and it makes them go ‘wow,’ gets a real sense of wonderment.”

With Record Store Day on April 21 quickly approaching, Anderson and Brach share a somewhat nonchalant view of what this day means for their store.

“I think everyday is Independent Record Store Day,” Brach says. “People will come in and say ‘what are you going to do for me on Record Store Day?’ so we’ll give them a deal. That fifteen dollar record is all of a sudden ten or twelve bucks, how’s that?”

Anderson and Brach, as well as most people you will see hanging out in the Turntable, live music. Their passion can not be contained so it is shared. If you buy a record from them, they will tell you about the history of that particular pressing. If they have any other pressings of the same record they will play them both for you and explain the differences in sound quality and the reasons for those differences. Their knowledge is canyon deep and lined with honest appreciation, not only for music, but for vinyl itself.

“I want everyone, from when they’re 13 years old to when they’re 70 years old, to come in and have fun,” Brach says. “When I see people walk out of here with a smile on their face, whether they bought anything or not, if they have a good time then we have done our jobs properly.”

 

By Dylan Toigo

arts@mondaymag.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mary Fox’s new book My Life as a Potter is available at bookstores nationwide. (Cole Schisler photo)
My Life as a Potter raises funds for Mary Fox Legacy Project

Acclaimed Vancovuer Island potter’s story raising money for developing artists

Premier John Horgan and Rob Douglas, BC NDP candidate for Cowichan Valley, meet with Cowichan First Nation elders, as they demonstrate spearfishing along the river. (Submitted)
Horgan acknowledges A&E sector hit hard by COVID-19, but showing signs of recovery

Hollywood North doing better than Hollywood South, Horgan says

Dinner shows in the Playbill Dining Room are keeping the Chemainus Theatre going during the pandemic. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Dinner events satisfying for the Chemainus Theatre and patrons

Small groups enjoy entertainment and the food in the Playbill Dining Room

Kent Laforme looks through the sound tunnel, or visual portal, carved inside the 25,000-pound marble sculpture that could be installed at Cattle Point. (Screen Shot, Oakbay.ca video)
Kent Laforme looks through the sound tunnel, or visual portal, carved inside the 25,000-pound marble sculpture that could be installed at Cattle Point. (Screen Shot, Oakbay.ca video)
Stone Takaya sculpture could soon ‘howl’ at Cattle Point

Oak Bay inviting public suggestions for 25,000-pound marble sculpture

The Sid Williams Theatre marquee is once again proudly displaying upcoming events. Photo supplied
Courtenay’s Sid Williams Theatre reopening in a limited capacity

Theatre has been closed since March due to COVID-19

Nanaimo-based ceramic artist Joe Lyons is presenting his first solo exhibition, ‘Poppin Bottles Soda Distraction,’ at Nanaimo Ceramic Arts from Oct. 26 to Nov. 12. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-based ceramic artist showcases variety of bottles in first solo show

Joe Lyons presents ‘Poppin Bottles Soda Distraction’ at Nanaimo Ceramic Arts

Toronto poet Robert Priest is presenting an online reading on Oct. 24. (Photo courtesy Allen Booth)
Nanaimo spoken word society presents online reading by prolific Toronto poet

Robert Priest to dip into 40-year catalogue for upcoming Zoom reading

Nanaimo singer Elise Boulanger releases her new single, ‘Cigarettes et rosé’ on Oct. 11. (Photo courtesy Laura Baldwinson)
Nanaimo singer releasing new single inspired by overheard conversations

Elise Boulanger to unveil ‘Cigarettes et rosé,’ accompanying ukulele tutorial video to come

Lee Porteous will be one of the performers at the Duncan Showroom’s storytelling event later this month. (Photo Submitted)
Duncan Showroom hosts storytellers series

Monthly shows will be broadcast live on YouTube

The 2020 City of Victoria Youth Poet Laureate Neko Smart will give up her seat for the next young poet in January. (Contributed/ Jeremy Loveday)
Nominations open for Victoria’s 2021 Youth Poet Laureate

Honourary one-year term reserved for region’s emerging poets

Most Read