In early 2016 AD, it was decided that there could only be one hip block for the entire length of Alcatraz, the main thoroughfare separating Berkeley and Oakland. There was already an established base with Easy Creole, Empress Vintage and Alchemy Cafe. A bicycle cooperative was then created. Then, a few months apart, came Disks of Hercules and one Antique Beats showcase decorated in full speakeasy style.
The small record store is well stocked with vinyl records with a few cases of CDs and cassettes hidden around each. Newcomers seem to be constantly being restocked, so while you may end navigation in an afternoon, there’s good reason to keep entering. While smaller sections like hip-hop and electro have slowly developed, if you’re looking for country, Americana, blues, or soul, you should find plenty of gems to take home with you.
Hercules is owned by Chris Ford who you may have heard on KPOO hosting Mr. Ford’s Soul Explosion on Monday afternoon. Prior to Alcatraz’s location, the store existed further on Ashby for a short time and easily found more people roaming the new address. The music guru behind the counter is worth asking for a suggestion or throwing in the names of a few bands that you obsess over so they can open up new music for you. More, this is a great reason to introduce yourself.
Right around the opening of Beats Antique’s “Shadowbox”, there was a noticeable increase in foot traffic. The first Tuesday of the month now results in a neighborhood party involving the majority of local businesses. Each place stays open later, throws up sales, and draws everyone in with music. The usual event at Hercules during the monthly event includes a performance of local acts and has since ranged from country to more pop songwriters. The store will skip the August event but return in September with double bass players.
Before that, August 4 will mark the first edition of a literary mix band at Hercules. Some poets and writers will come with a new work from a predetermined prompt. The theme for next week is âI feel like the first timeâ. Find Hercules Records at 1734 Alcatraz in Berkeley.