It's Record Store Day.
That means it's the day to get out and support your local independent music shop. And there are a bunch in the area, still living and breathing in this digital age, from a.k.a. music in Old City to Main Street Music in Manayunk, Hideaway Music in Chestnut Hill to Beautiful World Syndicate in South Philadelphia, Repo Records on South Street to Marvelous in University City to Siren Records in Doylestown.
They're among more than 900 indie shops around the United States, and more than 1,700 worldwide, that are participating in the fifth annual Record Store Day, which provides at least two good reasons for music lovers to mingle with fellow enthusiasts at the local Mom & Pop while holding some actual physical product in their hands.
First of all, there's free live music at area stores. Philadelphia psychedelic pop-rock band Cheers Elephant has even gone so far as to construct a mini Record Store Day tour in support of its new release, Like Wind Blows Fire. At 10:45 a.m., the four-piece band will play at Repo (538 South St.), at 1 p.m. they'll be at Main Street Music (4444 Main St., Manayunk), and then they'll head to Siren (25 E. State St., Doylestown) for a 3:15 set. (All that before piling into the van once again and heading north for a show at the Fun House in Bethlehem on Saturday night.)
The place where it'll be tempting to spend all day is Main Street Music. The music starts there at 12:30 p.m. with Shark Tape, followed by Cheers Elephant, Memphis singer-songwriter Megan Reilly, Englishman-turned-Philadelphian John Wesley Harding, Princeton grad and roots-folkie Anthony D'Amato, New York rocker Jesse Malin, and Delaware indie outfit Spinto Band. Quite the lineup.
Meanwhile, over at Hideaway Music (8612 Germantown Ave., Chestnut Hill), Philly rockers the Lux are on at 1, and pop-savvy songwriter Scot Sax is on at 2. And at a.k.a. music (27 N. Second St.) Spinto Band will double-dip, with a 3 p.m. set sweetened by the presence of local dessert purveyors Little Baby's Ice Cream.
But never mind what you can hear for free on Record Store Day. What music can you buy, in hopes of helping to top the Record Store Day number from last year, when sales of physical singles increased by 697 percent over the previous week?
Well, there's lots of cool stuff, much of which will be available in stores in limited quantities on Saturday only until it sells out. One such coveted item, no doubt, will be "Feistodon," a 7-inch single in which Canadian songwriter Leslie Feist covers Atlanta heavy rockers Mastodon's "Black Tongue" and Mastodon tackles Feist's "A Commotion."
Other choice offerings: an LP including "There It Is" and "Pass the Peas," two previously unreleased James Brown songs recorded live at the Apollo Theater. A 7-inch of Jimmy Fallon as "Tebowie," his hilarious amalgam of David Bowie and now-New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow. And "You Be Illin'," a double-sided single of Run-D.M.C.'s classic rap song paired with a cover of the song by African American jug band Carolina Chocolate Drops.
There'll be CDs and all sorts of other items on sale, too, at Record Store Day shops — like a Buck Owens coloring book I've got my eye on. But a lot of what Record Store Day is about is vinyl, which, in the age of MP3s and streaming music, has become the lifeblood of many indie shops as CDs become superfluous and music geeks young and old yearn for tangible product and analog sound.
It's more than a fad: Sure, vinyl still accounts for only 1.2 percent of total sales but, according to Nielsen SoundScan, vinyl sales were up 39 percent last year, on top of 10 percent growth from 2010. Record Store Day is a communal focal point of that surge. So if you're one of those people who get all tingly when watching a 180-gram disc of vinyl spin around a turntable at 33? revolutions per minute, get out there and buy something.