The Sounds of Silence

You may not think you’ll miss it now, but just wait a couple of months. You’ll be driving down Main, and you’ll hit the light at Westport Road and you’ll look over into the empty windows beneath the silver, art-deco lettering that spells Recycled Sounds (I imagine that sign being there forever), and you’ll ask yourself, When was the last time I bought myself an album? And you’ll hurt, man. You’ll just hurt.

It’s already happened to the Music Exchange. The building at 4200 Broadway that once held one of the biggest vinyl stores in the Midwest has been swept clean.

It does help to remember that Recycled Sounds’ owners, Anne Winter and her husband, Kurt Von Schlemmer, didn’t get pushed out of the business by falling profits; they were just tired of being shopkeepers. They had a good run: 18 years. They had hoped to pass the torch, and a couple of times it looked like someone was going to pick it up. As of press time, that hadn’t happened, and after this weekend, their store closes its doors for good.

Here in the Midwest, an impending lameness must always be fought off by any means possible. Losing two record stores is not a good strategy. That’s two tourist attractions down the drain, too, because who wants to go to a town that doesn’t have a good record store?

Last Sunday, the Afterparty played Recycled Sounds’ final in-store concert. I bought this band’s debut CD at the shop about a year ago because someone, presumably Winter, had written something like “This is just beautiful” on a sticker by the price tag. A slightly beat-up copy of that album sat in a rack near the counter, still bearing a handwritten recommendation — but now going for 75 percent off.

There was a good crowd and a good feel. No sentimentality or mourning. Von Schlemmer and Winter were in good spirits, and most of the customers had come to shop or hear music.

The Afterparty filled the room with a wash of back-porch country tempered by Dixieland horns and smoothed out by the three swingin’ chicks on singing backup. They played a typically short in-store set and hung out with their friends, drinking High Life and PBR from cans. It was the best place in town to be last Sunday afternoon. Along with eight other records, I bought a Bangtails LP, 1987’s Hypnotic Downpour. That was Archer Prewitt‘s pre-Coctails band, when he was a young Kansas City Art Institute graduate. Where else could you find something like that?

Lawrence still has its Love Garden, the best music store in the region. But we need a new place in town where we can go and discover new-old gems, have conversations and catch national and local bands playing pre-nightclub in-stores. Anyone listening? The Sounds of Silence When it comes to cries to keep a good record store in KC, people seem to be hearing without listening.

Categories: Music