Saturday, April 16, 2011

Record Store Saturday - Music Millennium, Portland OR

The kids and I headed out to Music Millennium in inner East Portland today to celebrate Record Store Day. I took WYMA's advice and picked up the new Feelies record.

Music Millennium, like Grimey's in Nashville covered in an earlier post by John below, is a great independent record store, and an institution in Portland.

It's a rambling funky labyrinth of a store, with a couple stairs leading up to a narrow mezzanine where they keep their current top selling new releases (which today included Red Fang, Kurt Vile, the Decemberists and R.E.M. all covered in recent WYMA reviews below, and local artist Alela Diane). Continue on and you'll find a few stairs that lead up to the blues section in a crowded balcony. Don't miss the electronica section near the bottom of those stairs.

Across the large middle of the store is a terrific used section, near the jazz, R&B and hip hop sections, which lead to another room with the country, folk and children's music. At the far end of all that is a door that will take you into what is in essence a separate store, the very large classical area. Personally, I have no idea what goes on in there, but my hunch is it's remarkably robust.

Sale bins and sound stations and big box set areas are scattered throughout, wedged here and there. Stuff is crammed everywhere, including a ton of vinyl, plus music books, magazines, posters, pins, stickers, you name it.

Plastered on one wall are lists of each employee's top 10 releases of the previous year, with a mid-year reckoning coming soon. I've discovered many a great new record there over the years, able to line my tastes up with one of the resident experts and thus willing to risk a new purchase of something unknown.

The staff are all ages, some have been there seemingly forever, and they are absurdly knowledgeable. This is record nerd central, not that I know anyone like that. It's the only place in town I could go on the day Solomon Burke died and know I could talk to someone even sadder than I was but far more versed in various odd import and other releases of The Bishop's.

The store is also the headquarters of the "Keep Portland Weird" movement, its black and gold bumper sticker a ubiquitous sight in this city.

All of this wonderful mayhem is overseen by Portland's king of music, store owner Terry Currier, a warm and generous bear of a guy whose love of music is surpassed perhaps only by his love of his customers and staff. And Terry is a fixture at live shows in Portland, supporting both local bands and touring acts, many of whom come by the store for in-store appearances while in town. Steve Earle will play up in the store's small balcony this Mother's Day, while the Drive By Truckers recently played there as well.

Here's a clip of The Walkmen playing an in-store at Music Millennium:

Read about Terry in this terrific feature by my friend Peter Carlin:

Any trip to Portland should include a stop at Powell's Books and Music Millennium. If you aren't coming here soon, check out the store's web site:

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