The way Spencer Albee sees it, Record Store Day is like a holiday for him and all his friends.
Many of them are local musicians trying to make a living while doing what they love. They’re also music geeks who spend much of their free time at record stores or listening to albums.
And Record Store Day — an annual event returning on Saturday — is a world-wide celebration of musicians and music fans alike.
“It’s like our day. It’s like our Maine Maple Sunday, a day for local musicians and music nerds,” said Albee, whose local band resume includes Rustic Overtones, As Fast As and several other groups. “I think it’s important for us, for musicians and fans, to have a day when the physical record store is celebrated.”
From its incarnation in 2008, Record Store Day has grown to the point where an estimated 1,700 independent record stores will be participating this year.
And record labels have embraced the event so much that this year, some 350 special releases will be shipped to stores specifically for Record Store Day. They range from a collaboration on vinyl between early ’60s rocker Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon and Los Straightjackets to a four-record set from The Flaming Lips that has to be played on four turntables at the same time to be heard properly.
In Maine, the Bull Moose Music store chain will be celebrating by staging free, in-store performances by local artists at its nine locations. And one very big non-local rocker, Doors drummer John Densmore, will be at Bull Moose’s Scarborough store to sign his latest book, “The Doors Unhinged.” His appearance at Bull Moose marks the start of a book tour that will bring him to 13 independent record stores.
It makes sense that the Portland-based Bull Moose chain is doing a lot for Record Store Day, because the idea for the celebration began with Chris Brown, head of marketing for Bull Moose. Brown started by just sending out an e-mail to other independent record store owners about having a day to celebrate record stores, and the idea was immediately embraced.
At the time, a lot was being written about how physical record stores would probably go away because of the huge trend toward people getting their music online.
“At the time, there was a lot of talk about what was going on in the music business, and I just wanted people to know what has been happening at independent record stores — that everything’s fine, we’re just going through an adjustment,” said Brown. “All I wanted to do was have everyone do what they would do normally — fans buying music, labels shipping product — but have them do it all on one day.”
In Bull Moose’s case, things do seem to be fine. The company has 11 stores, including two in New Hampshire, and in the past year opened a new store near the Casco Bay Bridge in South Portland. That’s the store where Albee will be playing on Record Store Day.
Greg Klein, who plays in the Portland string band Dark Hollow Bottling Company, has been to Record Store Day festivities as a fan, to hear bands and browse the special releases. But this year, his band was asked to play Record Store Day at the Bull Moose store in Windham.
“We were honored to be asked,” said Klein. “It’s such a great event.”
Michael Kurtz, who runs the day-to-day operations for Record Store Day for a coalition of indie record stores, is leaving his Los Angeles office on Saturday to come to Maine. He said he wants to see Densmore, and he’s always wanted to celebrate Record Store Day in the place where the idea came from.
“Chris and Bull Moose have been so integral in this that I’ve always wanted to be there for at least one of these events,” he said.
Kurtz says the number of stores participating and the number of special releases put out by labels has increased every year that Record Store Day has been held. Although there will be 350 special releases this year, the number of copies being shipped specifically for Record Store Day is about a million units, mostly on vinyl.
“That’s a pretty significant number,” Kurtz said.
Some of the interesting special releases coming out for Record Store Day this year, as highlighted by Brown at Bull Moose, include:
• Mumford & Sons: “Live at Bull Moose” — The hottest act in rock right now started its U.S. tour last year with a short set at Bull Moose Scarborough, resulting in this live EP that will be available on vinyl and CD.
• Sigur Ros: “Agaetis Byrjun” — There are only about 1,000 copies of this reissue, originally released in 2001.
• Los Straightjackets and Freddy Cannon: “The Sox are Rockin” — This song, with lyrics about the Red Sox. pairs pioneering New England rocker Cannon, best known for the 1962 hit “Palisades Park,” with Los Straightjackets, best known for wearing Mexican wrestling masks.
• The Band: “The Last Waltz” — A three-LP set from The Band’s farewell concert and film in 1976. Reportedly, it’s all analog.
• The Flaming Lips: “Zaireeka” — A four-LP set that requires four turntables playing at once to hear it properly. Bull Moose is trying to set up a demonstration at one of its stores, but details aren’t yet set.
• Paul McCartney & Wings: “Maybe I’m Amazed (Live)” — A replica of a 12-inch promotional single that was sent to radio stations in 1976 to promote the “Wings Over America” album.
• Fela Kuti: “Sorrow, Tears, and Blood” — Reissue of an LP previously only available in Nigeria.
The Mumford & Sons release is a big deal in Maine not only because it was recorded here, but because you can see Mainers on the cover art.
John Giard of Auburn was at the Mumford Bull Moose show with his son, Max. But he had no idea they’d be part of any cover art until recently, when Giard saw a Tweet from Bull Moose that included the EP.
“At first, I didn’t know what it was. And then I said, ‘Wait, that’s me,’ ” said Giard. “We’re both pretty excited about it.”
Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: