The day was September 21st, 2013. Kind of a gloomy Saturday as far as the weather goes. I woke up at around 11 AM. I dressed myself, had a quick lunch, and headed out on my journey with sketchbook and charcoals in hand. My hunt began to find the best record stores the Baltimore area had to offer.
My first stop was in Hampden. I took the first available shuttle there and once I arrived, I came across my first destination: Celebrated Summer Records. This shop was actually located within another store called Atomic Books, and going through their vinyl I noticed that the majority of the selection consisted of punk and hardcore music (which pleased me greatly).
Down the street was my next stop, The True Vine. With its colorful environment and great selection of vinyl and LPs, it seemed that I had started off my day on the right foot. The owner, Jason, was incredibly friendly, knowledgeable, and I could’ve left with a quarter of the store’s display in my pocket after speaking with him. But I suppose leaving with just a sketch of the building sufficed, as I still had a long way to go on the day’s expedition.
I then walked a few blocks east and came across JOJOSOUTH Record Shop in Wyman Park. This almost boutique-like shop was hard to find at first, but once I stepped inside I was delighted to see how unintimidating the environment was (mainly because of the low ceilings, perfectly suited towards my 5’2” stature). The selection was reasonably priced and clean, and I found a couple of rare gems while rummaging through.
Venturing past Johns Hopkins University I ended up in Abell, where I found Normal’s Books and Records. The location was pretty inconvenient, as it is nearby some pretty rough neighborhoods. Additionally, a rival bookshop called The Book Thing (famous for its free public book exchange) was located right down the street. Nonetheless, this store felt quite comfortable and I lost myself inside for a bit before taking off to start the 2nd half of my voyage.
I arrived at Penn Station and took the next bus to Fells Point to rest my tired legs. I stopped to get some coffee, and then found El Suprimo Records. This store was a converted basement, and had a wide array of different genres. Also, it was quite loud inside… which honestly was just the way I liked it. It was around this time that it began to rain, so I hurried along to the next stop.
I promptly arrived at probably the most well known record store in Baltimore, The Sound Garden. The thing that stood out the most to me about this place was that it had its own parking lot, which is RARE for its location. This one was just as good as the others I visited thus far, so I made my sketch and kept moving as the evening approached.
My last stop in the actual city of Baltimore was at Dimensions in Music in the downtown area. This store specialized in much more urban music such as hip-hop and rap. I took a quick sketch down, and the friendly staff bid me adieu as I trekked back to MICA.
And yet, this wasn’t the end of my journey! A friend of mine came to pick me up after dinner in her father’s minivan, and we drove off to her hometown of Catonsville. In Catonsville was the last stop on my voyage, Trax On Wax. The store smelled wonderfully of incense, and was decently organized. My only complaint would probably be the randomized prices.
From this lengthy tale, you can probably already assume that my final project is going to be on “Record Shops in the Baltimore Area”. I plan on doing it in sort of a garage band flyer style, much like the ones I see on billboards around MICA campus.