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North Hills Monthly

Off the Record: Beer and Music Celebration to Rock Harmony

Mar 30, 2019 11:04AM ● By Hilary Daninhirsch

Annie at Last Dog Records. Photo courtesy of LDR

Remember records? Albums? LPs? Vinyl? They were available in 16, 33, 45 or 78 RPM (rotations per minute) varieties, though most of us middle-aged folks grew up with 33s and 45s. The records had grooves, and each groove represented a different song on the album, which spun by putting a stereo needle on the record.

We use the word ‘album’ today when an artist releases new music, even though record releases are often in the format of digital downloads.

You might think that albums have gone the way of the dinosaur in this digital age, but, according to Dennis McCurdy, owner of Last Dog Records in Harmony, a vinyl shop located on the second floor of Bottlebrush Gallery, they’re actually making a comeback.

“Last year, vinyl outsold every other form of music communication, including streaming online and digital,” he said, noting that albums practically disappeared in the 1980s with the popularity of CDs and audiocassettes. But even current artists are releasing actual albums, and the younger generation is buying them.

Of course, vintage records are always quite popular among collectors, but in light of the resurgence of traditional vinyl, perhaps this is not a surprising statistic: there are 1,400 independently owned record stores in the country, with thousands more internationally.

Last Dog Records is a treasure trove for new and vintage record albums, as it carries a wide selection of inventory from country music to jazz to popular to folk to classical and many other genres. At last count, the shop inventory is around 7,000 albums, and McCurdy is constantly updating the selections, even traveling around the country to buy more.

For the past three years, Last Dog Records, in conjunction with the Bottlebrush Gallery, has held a celebration in honor of National Record Store Day. The national event was the brainchild of a group of independent record storeowners to celebrate the unique culture of records and the stores that carry them. McCurdy said that the event is also used as a ‘release day’ for either old vinyl that has been reissued or new vinyl from new artists.

This year, the celebration is on Saturday, April 13, and Last Dog Records, in collaboration with nearby businesses the Harmony Inn and ShuBrew, is gearing up for the event. Officially titled Off the Record: Beer and Music Celebration, the event will include live music from such artists as Walker & The Rebellion and the Alex Kates Band. McCurdy will also be releasing his own CD and performing with special guests, The Carpenter Ants. All of the bands playing live will also have music for purchase. On Saturday afternoon, Jim and Debbie Tobin will be hosting their monthly Open Mic at the Bottlebrush, and there will also be a Vinyl Record Art Show.

And what is a celebration without food and drink? In addition to several food trucks, the Harmony Inn will be hosting a crawfish boil on its patio. ShuBrew, a Harmony restaurant and craft brewery, will be releasing a beer called “Record Breaker,” and serving “Beer Mugz-n-Harmony,” a collaborative brew between the Harmony Inn and ShuBrew. The Record Breaker label was designed by Bottlebrush artist Laura Stuart.

True to its name, McCurdy said that if you bring your dog to the event, you will receive a 10 percent discount on all purchases made at Last Dog Records; students also receive the same discount, dog or no dog. And despite the beer that will be available, McCurdy said that “Off the Record” will be a family-oriented event.

No tickets are necessary. Last Dog Records will open its doors at 11 a.m. on April 13, and the event will wind down around 9 p.m.

For more information, visit the Facebook pages of Last Dog Records, Bottlebrush Gallery, ShuBrew, or the Harmony Inn.