Memphis retailer A. Schwab has been selling music for over 90 years. But this weekend, the iconic Beale Street general store will put a new emphasis on local sounds – both historic and contemporary – with the launch of its musical vinyl department in Memphis.
The department – which is hosted by acclaimed roots musician Amy LaVere – will celebrate with a big opening event on Saturday, June 12. The free one-day celebration will coincide with the annual national Record Store Day festivities. The opening will conclude with a ticketed concert that evening featuring critically acclaimed gospel artist Elizbeth King and Americana singer-songwriter John Paul Keith.
Most Memphians are familiar with Schwab’s rich history. Founded in 1876, the A. Schwab General Store and Soda Fountain have been in business for over 140 years. In 2021, the store remains independent and two of the fourth generation members of the Schwab family are still on staff. In its long history, Schwab’s has only been closed twice for an extended period: once during the yellow fever outbreak of the late 1800s and again last year at the start of the COVID pandemic. -19.
Located in the heart of the historic Beale Street Entertainment District, A. Schwab has always had music to buy in its second floor area. In announcing the new vinyl department, the retailer noted that it has been selling records since the 1930s. A. Schwab also has a large museum collection of vintage records formerly sold in the store, as well as an archive that includes scrolls. of piano, among which “Beale Street Blues” by WC Handy, which actually predates recorded music.
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Expanding the Memphis vinyl scene
Earlier this year, Terry Saunders, owner of A. Schwab, came up with the idea of expanding the store’s existing music department, with a focus on Memphis music and vinyl records.
Saunders noted that she is “in love with Memphis’ rich musical history, as well as the depth and breadth of talent in the contemporary music scene. We felt it should be presented on vinyl in accordance with the long run. store record sales history. “
Saunders first reached out to her friend, musician Amy LaVere, to see if she could recommend someone to take on the project. “She called me to ask if I knew someone good for this project,” recalls LaVere, “and I jumped at the chance. I was like, ‘Can I do this? Can I throw my own name in the hat? ‘ I really felt it was a project I could sink my teeth into.
LaVere has spent the last few months building up the store’s inventory. With the help and guidance of Shangri La Records John Miller, and other local music personalities, including author / historian Robert Gordon and Fat Possum label owner Bruce Watson, the “All Memphis Then and Now” collection “de LaVere runs the gamut musically, and she notes that the selection and range will evolve.
“I will try to keep it as a museum,” LaVere said. “We will have a real informational aspect and I am doing everything possible, in terms of musical genres or styles or eras. And I contacted all the musicians in town who have something on vinyl so we can store it. ”
The opening event on June 12 will feature door prizes, special sales and free “45” chocolate records by Memphis chocolate makers, Dinstuhl’s, which will be given to the first 45 customers who purchase a vinyl product.
The daytime festivities will be followed by a special event with ticket from 5 p.m. The program will consist of a live interview and performance by gospel artist Elizabeth King, hosted by DJ WYXR, Reverend Juan D. Shipp. The 77 year old man King’s recent release “Living In The Last Days” reached second place on the Billboard Blues Charts.
King’s performance will be followed by a full performance from the singer-songwriter John Paul Keith, who will play selections from his new LP, “The Rhythm Of The City”. A record signing of the two artists will follow the performances
Inauguration of the Memphis Music Vinyl department
Saturday June 12 at A. Schwab, 163 Beale St.
Daytime entertainment: Free and open to the public, from noon.
Special evening with ticket starring Elizabeth King and John Paul Keith, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets: $ 25 per person.
To book tickets, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.