onceived in 2007 at a gathering of more than a thousand independent record store owners across the globe, Record Store Day is held on one Saturday every April and every Black Friday in November to commemorate the unique culture of independently owned record stores and their importance within a community. Record Store Day has had a far-reaching impact on the reinvention of independent music in the streaming age. The event puts great emphasis on the role of the independent record store as a gathering space for music enthusiasts to interact. And the intimate connections fostered by such interactions are crucial in the formation of a local music scene. In lieu of the detached sense of ownership, the resurgence of the trend for musicians and listeners to establish intimate connections is the impetus of the Vinyl Revival movement we have seen in recent years. On the contrary, AirPods and streaming services, with their abysmal audio quality, exacerbate the alienation of artists we have been experiencing.
For Ithaca, Angry Mom Records serves as the backbone of the local underground music scene. Located in the basement of Autumn Leaves Used Books on the Commons, it is a safe haven for opinions and artistry to interflow. Often in collaboration with local organizations like the Ithaca Underground, Angry Mom Records fosters an inclusive public space for people from all walks of life to get involved in the music industry. In an interview with The Sun, George Johnann, the owner of the Ithaca record shop, said that his store is especially a place for music fans to congregate and get to know each other.
As a record store owner and a vinyl collector himself, Johnann says that he found the range and depth in the musical taste of Ithacans mind-blowing. Catering to the diverse needs of the local community, vinyls of genres such as reggae, electronica, alternative rock, classics and film score can be seen on the shelves of Angry Mom Records. Speaking on the diverse music taste of Ithaca, Johnann also noted that the local music scene has become “more inclusive than ever.” This inclusivity mentioned by Johnann was reflected by the local artists who performed at Angry Mom Records on Saturday. The 86ers brought a blend of classic honky-tonk and alt-rock to the basement, Nancy Babich performed like a moody, angsty refinement of Sleater Kinney, Jake And The Nowhere Men reinvented The Sonics-esque lo-fi garage punk and Bubba Crumrine permeated the room with an emotional touch of noise and drone. It is exquisite how these different voices could be heard in the same space on the same day.
Bubba Crumrine, one of the performers that day, said that he always enjoys performing with people in close proximity. “In that way, it feels like more of a shared experience, especially with all the lights on — I can easily see faces and reactions and their enjoyment and that immediately translates into my own experience. Conversely, it feels vulnerable if something isn’t going right!” As someone who loves seeing new faces, Bubba said he’ll never pass up an opportunity to entertain or confuse a new listener. Bubba has not played at Angry Mom in a few years, so he was uncertain how he was going to feel with people shopping during an intimate set. “But it was nice to see people comfortably hanging out and pursuing other music while I was performing.”
Speaking of Angry Mom Records, Bubba said that “it is critical to the life of the Ithaca music community.” He argued that it provides “a hub where new music can be acquired and discussed in a social manner.” As he recollected the time when he moved to Ithaca, he pointed out that it is difficult for information to disseminate to others and for change and growth to occur within the community. Yet even in the digital age, a local independent record store is still irreplaceable within a community. “Today, if you want to know what’s going on, you can take a look at the posters on their door, likely pick up something from the performers who live here or are coming soon and ask questions.”
Bubba also shares his personal experience with Angry Mom Records. As someone who will pay more for a record in person than online due to the value of the intangible elements and physical community space it provides, he said there are a few dozen records on his shelf that he would not have considered or even been aware of without recommendations from Angry Mom folks. As the talent booker for Ithaca Underground, Bubba said there had even been the occasion where he had met an artist in person, at random, in the store that resulted in putting that person on a show. Bubba also shared his relationship as an artist with Angry Mom Records. “Knowing that you have somewhere physically where people can discover what you’re doing is a big help. If Angry Mom wasn’t involved in this release, I’m not certain I would have made a physical release — I definitely wouldn’t have invested as much in the recording or the package quality without their support.” Bubba’s album release show is coming up this Saturday, April 20 at Sacred Root Kava Lounge.
This year’s Record Store Day also marks the tenth year since the opening of Angry Mom Records. A decade into his new career, George said that he especially enjoys working with the younger guys in the store: “They always give me new perspectives on music.” As a closure to the interview, George also added that he “would always love to see more Cornell students getting involved in the local music scene.”
This article has been updated to include an interview.
Stephen Yang is a freshman at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected].