Vinyl Lives: Boo Ray Tours One of Nashville’s Finest Record Shops and Gets Personal About Vinyl

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In Vinyl Lives we spotlight and profile record stores around the country who offer music lovers an experience that goes beyond an iTunes purchase or a Spotify playlist. For this month’s installment of Vinyl Lives we are doing something a little different by turning over the column to Nashville troubadour Boo Ray, who just teamed up with country songstress Elizabeth Cook for a twangy holiday honky tonker called “All Strung Out Like Christmas Lights.” The song is part of a limited colored vinyl release, with the holiday song on side A and Boo Ray’s “I’ve Got the Jug” on Side B. This the first in a series of 7″ duets that Boo Ray is releasing through his partnership with Kindercore Vinyl, the brand new Athens, GA-based pressing plant. Other artists currently participating in the series include Lilly Winwood, and celebrity Chef Sean Brock to name a few. Given all that he has going on, we figured Boo Ray was the perfect character to talk about one of his favorite records shops and his own connection to the wax. Enjoy! 

There’re more than a couple cool spots to hunt and buy new and used vinyl in Nashville. The record collecting community in Nashville is strong and unified. Grimey’s on 8th ave, with the “OG Basement” below, is definitely a tap-root of the scene. I’m drawn most times straight to the “local releases” since there’s so much output from Nashville acts right now. It’s danged near like a ticker-tape and about impossible to keep up with, there’re so many new releases. But that’s one way I kinda keep an eye out for interesting sounds and new songs from friends and people I know around town.  

There’s a phenomena when listening to music with other people that is akin to osmosis. Somehow it seems like you’re able to gain quick access to greater understanding of new music that you haven’t heard before when you listen and discuss with another person who’s into that music. I definitely have certain friends who’s ears i trust for certain perspectives and call on them often to “borrow your ears for a minute”. 

On that tip, the guys at Grimey’s have some great expertise in specific areas and highly developed, particular taste in music… For example, Will’s into female singer-songwriters, electro-pop, shoe-gaze and psych-folk, which is fertile ground for some of my favorite artists like Lilly Hiatt, Trixie Whitley and Cat Power. Joey’s got a hot tip for you on classic singer-songwriters and Americana folk. Rodrigo (from local band Sun Seekers) is deep into ambient-experimental, post-punk and glam-rock. No kidding man. Deep, old school, highly developed, opinionated and professional vinyl experts working at a record shop are an asset to be treasured. 

My favorites in the “Local” section right now are Lilly Hiatt, Blank Range, Erin Rae, Elizabeth Cook, Derek Hoke, Andrew Laehey, Nicole Adkins, Jonathan Latham, Andrew Combs, Matt Woods, Aaron Lee Tsjan and Don Gallardo.  

Along with special limited pressing vinyl, rare, new and used vinyl, Grimey’s is also carrying “Instrument Head”, the great new book from well known music photographer and friend Michael Weintrob. “Instrument Head” is an epic collection of photographs of musicians taken by Michael over a period of a few years and beautifully printed in a book. I’m real proud to be included in this book among so many great players and friends. 

Sea Of Lights is my 5th studio album but the 1st vinyl record I’ve ever made, and it’s out now on 12″ vinyl LP and available at Grimey’s along with “All Strung Out Like Christmas Lights”, the 12″ 45rpm vinyl Christmas single I recorded with Elizabeth Cook. When my 1st Americana album released in 2010 and included 2 tracks produced by Noah Shain, I knew then that I needed to record my music to 2″ tape and press vinyl. It took me a few more records before I had the logistics covered and budget to record and release a proper analog vinyl record. These few years later Noah called me and said, “I’ve got the Ampex 2” tape machine from Quonset Hut Studio that recorded Dylan’s “Nashville Skyline”. Get to Los Angeles and do a record with me. My publishing deal had just come through and I spent my year’s wages on the record and we wound up with Sea Of Lights

Noah recorded my All-Star Band of friends, Steve Ferrone, Paul Ill, Solphilcox and Dallas Kruse live to tape on his Ampex tape machine through his 1-of-a-kind API console and mixed it down to 1/4″ tape. Then Noah took 1/4′ reels to Pete Lyman and Pete mastered it and cut the lacquers. The lacquers are shipped to Welcome To 1979 Studio and they cut stampers and shipped the stampers to Kindercore Vinyl in Athens, Georgia. These records I’m making with Noah Shain, Pete Lyman, Welcome To 1979 and Kindercore Vinyl are sonically designed from the start to be manufactured and listened to on vinyl. 

As a singer-songwriter and as an entertainer, it’s a total thrill to finally have my music out on vinyl records. I’ve waited all this time to press vinyl so that I could do it in the specific way that I’ve learned it’s supposed to be done. I haven’t collected any vinyl either since I was a kid, due to my itinerant and vagabonding career path. It’s a total blast to be a small part of a music community and have these friendships that travel along the process of making vinyl records. From my longtime friendship with record producer Noah Shain to the guys and gals at Vintage King, where we buy 2″ Tape, to Mastering Engineer Pete Lyman, the analog experts at Welcome To 1979 Sudio, Kindercore Vinyl Manufacturing and Grimey’s New & Used Records, it’s a wonderful ongoing collaboration among an eclectic group of professional friends who have a passion for vinyl records.    

Hear more of Boo Ray’s music at booraymusic.com.

Check out other editions of Vinyl Lives:

Bric-a-Brac Records and Collectibles (Chicago, IL)

Vertical House Records (Huntsville, AL)

Eclectic Cafe & Vinyl (Charleston, SC)

Luna Music (Indianapolis, IN)

Sweat Records (Miami, FL)

Shed House Records

Guestroom Records (Norman/Oklahoma City, OK & Louisville, KY)

Streetlight Records (San Jose/Santa Cruz, CA)

Scotti’s Record Shop (Summit, NJ)

Breakaway Records (Austin, TX)

Euclid Records (St. Louis & New Orleans)

Stinkweeds (Phoenix, AZ)

Pure Pop Records (Burlington, VT)

Generation Records (New York, NY)

Wall of Sound (Seattle, WA)

Strictly Discs (Madison, WI)

Is there a record store you think we should profile? Feel free to shoot your suggestions to Neil Ferguson on Twitter: @musicjournzo!

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