Record Store Day started as a celebration but now it’s big business, too.

Of course, it’s been about business since it began in 2008, with retailers initially comparing it to Christmas. But it’s also a party, with some great shows and in-stores to boot.

On Saturday, April 20, Retail Track visited six stores and caught two performances. But at most of the stores, Record Store Day was more about selling the nearly 400 releases issued by the labels as a means to support indie retail, as music fans flocked the bins, looking for rare and often sold out pieces. Stores like Looney Tunes in West Babylon, Long Island, and Vintage Vinyl in Fords, N.J., used to have big line-ups of performance during the day, but neither store had a single in-store appearance between them.

J&R Music World, which used to have a full-slate of performances on Record Store Day, was still humming at 5 p.m., with about 50 people shopping the downstairs store, while another 20 trolled the cartons of Record Store Days releases stacked up on make-shift tables. Earlier in the day, Anthrax had participated in a successful in-store signing appearance, employees said.

By 6:30 PM, Soundfix, which had announced it was closing on Record Store day, was picked clean of the big Record Store day releases. The Williamsburg store’s shelves were about half empty, but the store was crowded with customers still looking for bargains such as 35% off on CDs.

richard barone

(Ed Christman) Richard Barone performing at Record Collector in New Jersey on Record Store Day 2013

In Greenpoint, at the Record Grouch, about a dozen customers flipped through vinyl albums as customers like Bruce Halverson bought a slew of vinyl. A block away, Permanent Records was much more crowded as about 25 customers, and a much younger crowd, crammed into the smaller store, with the vinyl selection the main object of their affection.

During the day, Karl Groeger of Looney Tunes in West Babylon, Long Island, e-mailed me to tell me that the store had the busiest day in its 42-year history, "and that was by 4 p.m.," according to Groeger. The store had 2,000 people by noon. With the store opening at 9 a.m., Groeger reported that 500 people were on line an hour earlier, and the line had grown to to 800 people by 11 a.m., with a 90-minute wait to pay at the register.

Our day began in Bordentown, N.J., with visits to the Record Collector and Randy Now's Man Cave & Consignment Shop. At the latter, the Cryptkeeper Five played a high-energy punk set in the garage behind the store. As it was the band took up a corner of the garage while the other far corner stood a humungous tractor shovel, with a table of hot dogs with all the fixings dividing the space in half.

During the set, they said they would play a number that sounded like "Balboa," which they described as a new song. Although they are named the Cryptkeeper Five, it’s unclear whether the quartet is missing one member, can't count, or if the singer has a sense of humor.

While everyone else was out looking for Record Store Day releases, Retail Track decided that he wanted to come home with Palmyra Delran's "You Are What You Absorb," album. Alas, all the stores Track visited were either out of stock or hadn't heard of her, except for the Man Cave. Although assured that it was in stock, I failed to find the record and neither did the store employee, so that's a get that still needs getting.

The day began on its finest note with Richard Barone playing a great set at the Record Collector. He opened with “The Bulrushes,” one of the Bongos’ best-known songs, which was also was on "Cool Blue Halo," his first solo album. As the album is now enjoying its 25th anniversery, Barone played a number of selections from it during the set.
Near the end of the set, Barone plays a Bongos medley, consisting of "In The Congo," "Barbarella" and "Glow In The Dark," following that with "Number With Wings."

During the set he reveals that he is going to produce a Dean Martin tribute performance at Town Hall in the fall with Martin's daughter Deana and her husband John Griffeth.

And while I was unable to get the Palmyra Delran album I wanted, I did managed to get her "She Digs the Ride" EP at the Record Collector.