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Spent my Gainesville Green and Vinylally Found It!
(NOTE: Original report from 1997 or thereabouts)


  On a recent trek to my old hangout (Gainesville Florida) there was more to enjoy then just their beautiful greenery. For what's about to be parlayed your way are some of the most slammatocious stores in the coolest town around. Besides all the college kids, great live music, and beer microbreweries are one of the hugest assortment of vinyl shops in Southeastern America. So sit right back while i go Postal visiting over five stores in less then four hours.

 

Babalou's Sign
Babalou Records
1634 Northwest First Avenue
Gainesville, FL 33603

Voice (352) 371-6310

Babalou's VinylHere’s a funky little place stashed away in a deep dark corner only two blocks from the University of Florida campus. The owner, Jon, carries new, used, and imported yummies with a good assortment of posters, t-shirts and other groovy stuff. When you first walk in usually Jon is layin' back with music playing on their system's Klipsch speakers. Immediately to your right are the 'audiophile' vinyl bins with $1 records to your left. In the next room is filled with Jazz, Rock, classical, DJ, and even quadraphonic used vinyl. The prices are killer cheap too and he's even gotta Nitty Gritty machine to clean all your prized findings! Let’s just say there is, or should i say was (heh heh), a 6-eye Columbia Stravinsky "The Firebird" for $1. There was also a MoFi Steely Dan "Katy Lied" for $15, though some vinyl crazy reviewer rescued them :-{)+ . There are Phase 4, Blue Notes, and all the old rock vinyl used and just waiting to be played. For you Rush fans, the Rush Hemisphere’s picture disc is right now for sale! Got a copy here already but she can be all yours. There’s about 10,000 vinyl records of all kinds with 25% of those being of the new variety. He just told me 2,000 more new albums are on their way. In fact business is so hoppin’ there’s a new partner joining forces who will make Babalou Records even bigger! For all you old John Tindall of Babalou'srockers you'll find obscure stuff like Strawberry Alarm Clock "The World in a Shell" and also "Incense and Peppermints". Of course there’s plenty of new audiophiles releases too. Jon sez "Our main customers are students though we also have collectors from out of town come in. We specialize in rare and obscure items at competitive prices significantly less then what you see in publications. The vinyl business here is definitely holding its own." Babalou's has been one of my fave Gainesville hangouts for years. Check back often because you never know when then barely used Nautilus Neil Young "Harvest" might show up!

 

 

Specs Sign
Specs Music
1412 West University Avenue
Gainesville, FL 32603

Voice (352) 376-5301

Specs music is a big chain store with many locations in Southeastern America. Not many of them carry vinyl yet this location has many of the latest and greatest stuff. It seems the demand was so high for it in town that they now carry over 2,000 different titles mainly being new releases, urban, techno and alternative. Sales have dropped a bit with indie stuff and rap comin'’ on strong according to Laura Dewsbury. Specs also carries posters, laserdiscs, memorabilia, DVDs, CDs and even guitar strings (among a few of the goodies offered in their store).

Stevie Ray Vaughan Fender Guitar A cool gimmick is that they also offer a frequent shopper club which is called "Pay Back". Basically for every dollar you spend you get one point. You can redeem your points for merchandise. In fact for only 15,000 points you can be the owner of this shining new Stevie Ray Vaughan Fender Guitar! So when you buy music you can earn point and learn how to play music too!

 

 

Hyde & Zeke Sign
Hyde & Zekes
1620 West University
Gainesville, FL 32603

Voice (352) 376-1687

Charlie Scales of Hyde & ZekeNow this place in literally across the street of the University of Florida Campus which sells new and used vinyl. Their mainstay in vinyl is indie music. Recent stuff flying out his door has been Less That Jake "Greased" which the owner, Charlie Scales se "It’s funny and we just can’t keep it in stock." They also carry lottsa used rock, jazz, soul, and reggae. New stuff like techno and ambient has also been hot sellers according to Charlie. With a large collage community it's no wonder there not only a huge market for current music, but current music on vinyl! Charlie sez "Vinyl sales are improving because less and less stores are carrying it and the companies are putting out lots of vinyl. So we kinda created a niche in our market." They also sell guitar strings, drum sticks and of course vinyl cleaning and other accessories for the record enthusiast. So if you're ever in Gainesville playin' a gig and you break your snare drum head just head on off to Hyde & Zeke records. As seen in the picture, Charlie’s recent fave is the new reissue of Jimi Hendrix "First Rays of the New Rising Sun." Now you won't find this record on the shelves because, just between you and me, Charlie has a super secret stash in the back office only available to his closest friends. Just remember, keep this only between me and you, ok? They also are catering to the collectors vinyl market of course and will soon have their very own www site. Oh, i almost forgot to mention they have the best selection of 45 rpm records in town!

 

 

Sharpe#s Sign
Sharpe#s Music
1219 West University Avenue
Gainesville, FL 32601

Voice (352) 377-1363

Sharpe#s Audiophile Vinyl SectionTed Sharpe runs this cool little store mainly catering to jazz, classical, classic rock and R&B. In fact he’s got over 15,000 new and used records. This store has the largest selection of ‘audiophile’ vinyl new and used in town. True story: When i lived in Gainesville i’d do the usual garage sales lookin' for all those secret vinyl stashes at dirt cheap prices. Well... so did Ted. Needless to say he and i were kinda in competition in seein’ who could get to the good stuff first. Ted sez "i’m selling 3 vinyl records to every CD sold here. Sales have been pretty good lately. It’s definitely improved over last year. In fact I just sold a Blue Note original John Coletrain "Blue Train! Many of the new reissue and original Hendrix has been selling lately." At Sharpe#s Music Exchange you can also buy used turntables too with the occasional amps, speakers, etc. Used turntable sales have been excellent according to Ted. In fact Ted tells me he’s having a hard time keeping used tables in stock! As i was interviewing Ted and taking a few photos a dude came in with a big box of DJ vinyl. After Ted went through them i went through them and bought a few retro 80’s dance 12 inch DJ singles for $1 each! Aint vinyl life great! Ted just started a www site which features mostly jazz while eventually he'll have some rock, blues, and vocals eventually appearing. For the best stuff you'd be better off calling him because he's not quite learned the internet yet.

 

 

Stratus Sign

Stratus
813 West University
Gainesville, FL 32601

(352) 338-0501

For all those lookin'’ for some phat DJ vinyl from all around the world here’s a place that resides in the rear part of one of the hippest cloths stores in town. If ya wanna really look like the 'in' crowd with all the collage dettes/dudes here's the one stop shop for you! Seth Phillips and Chris Gallagher run this humble abode where you can not only buy DJ vinyl, you can also listen to the records on Technics 1200 turntables before you buy! Wish more vinyl stores did this. Just so ya know, most DJ stores offer this service yet 'audiophile' stores don't. Maybe those DJs know something we don't? Seth sez "We specialize in aspects of electronic music which break, house, progressive house, drum n’ bass, hip-hop, and trip-hop. We cater to DJs with mix tapes and also sell equipment."

Stratus' Technic 1200 Turntables Setup As i look around they got cartridges, slip mats, Gruv Glide, mixers, carry bags and hard cases for vinyl. Ya see, many popular DJs tour and they carry all their best stuff with ‘em in specialized hard cases. According to Seth the hottest music has been EPMD and Rakim for hip-hop, Arman Van Helden for house, and for drum n’ bass Aphrodite and Metalheadz. Seth sez, with a big smile on his face "Vinyl is on the comeback and sounds better then CDs too!" Ruman has it they’re selling more turntable then guitars in the industry according to Seth. Well... Anyway, Stratus has all the in and now popular underground new music.

 

 

Urband Wax Sign

Urband Wax
1119 W University Avenue
Gainesville, FL 32601

Voice (325) 337-2982

Also catering to the DJ market is Urband Wax. Doug Bliton, cool dude extraordinaire, owns the joint. They carry around 10,000 mainly new and very small portion of used records. Everything vinyl from house, hip-hop, trip-hop, jungle, ambient, techno, trance, etc. Lately the jungle and drum ‘n bass have been big movers while hip-hop has been a consistent hot seller. Wu-Tang, Photek, and Aphrodite have been recent faves according to Doug. They mainly carry only the really rave underground. Doug sez: "Once an artist goes mainstream we tend to not sell it as well." In fact while doin' the photo shoot their customers shied away from me! Urband Wax is the place for hidden treasures! This place is like Rod Sterling's "Shadow and Substance" where the customers live in the shadows and their products are filled with substance. In fact i bought Plaid (experimental music) which is playin’ right now on one of the tables here. They’ve been opened quite a few years getting bigger and bigger. In fact i usedta shop here when they were at a small location by a car audio store i usedta manage. This is truly the underground place! They also carry slip mats, storm watches, mix tapes, and a variety of t-shirts... Like Stratus they also have a turntable setup to audition vinyl before you buy it. So you dettes/dudes who are looking for the latest in the real underground scene here's the place for you.

Urband Wax Vinyl SelectionThis article has really opened my eyes even wider seeing how what was once underground/indie music has now turned into mainstream. Therefore the true underground folks are going further into directions some music lovers have dreamed about. Gainesville is filled with a large variety of vinyl shops all of which have great prices! Don't forget after all your shopping is over there are many clubs where live jazz, rock, underground, and rage music can be enjoyed. If fact during my visit i enjoyed "I MUSIC" playing at the local Performing Arts Center! With all the live and recorded music available in Gainesville you might not even wanna leave! In the end you'll be having a good time while... Enjoying the Music!

 

 

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