Stationed in the middle of a downtown Austin parking lot is a large yellow vehicle with a menu listing and side window for servers that looks like it's equipped to dispense lunchtime meals.
It is, in fact, a portable record store, the brainchild of Jack White's Nashville-based label Third Man Records. Its inaugural journey kicked off with a 14-hour drive from its homestead out to Austin. To make sure they made their mark, none other than White kicked off the festivities today with a noon-time, two-song set: Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away" and the White Stripes' "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground."
Label-mate Seasick Steve also performed a two-song set before the three-man truck crew got down to business -- literally. They were there to proudly sell their products but not just in any old way. The line of people that wrapped around the block were given 'menus' of Third Man items to chose from including their entire catalog, which includes the Stripes, Cold War Kids and funnyman Conan O'Brien, on vinyl and 7" singles, as well as collectors' items (box sets, promos) and exclusive truck-only items (T-shirts, tote bags, air freshener, bottle opener, shot glass, buttons, pins).
Before hauling back to Nashville, the Third Man posse will at return to this lot, park at another downtown corner another day and set up shop at Waterloo Records. After that, they hope to hit the summer festival circuit with their merry vehicle. Third Man employee (the company no titles, they insist) Ben Swank claims that the label is looking to broaden its offerings. "We're not as purist and retro as people think we are."