Posted July 28, 2005
Schools That Rock
Nashville isn't just the town where aspiring country singers hope to get discovered; it's also one of the best places to study for a job behind the scenes in the music industry. Middle Tennessee State University -- located in the surprisingly hip Murfreesboro, Tennessee -- boasts one of the pre-eminent recording-industry management programs in the country. In Nashville proper, Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music offers a dual- degree program that allows students to graduate in five years with both a bachelor of music degree and a master of education degree. But the most worthwhile music program in Nashville is offered by Belmont University's Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business. Students who graduate receive a BBA (bachelor of business administration) with a concentration in entertainment and music business. Belmont, whose alumni include Lee Ann Womack and American Idol contestant Kimberly Locke, offers extensive internship-placement programs.
Venues: To get a country-music education off campus, head to Ryman Auditorium; the 113-year-old venue has hosted concerts by everyone from Dolly Parton to James Brown. Nashville also has a strong rock scene, and most of the best shows are at the Belcourt Theatre. The historic building doubles as the city's reigning independent music house. And Exit/In has survived numerous closings and reopenings in its thirty-four-year history -- and, in the process, become one of Nashville's top venues.
Record Stores: Though the Great Escape -- which is a stone's throw from the infamous Music Row -- stocks a reliable selection of vinyl, the best shop in town is Grimey's record store, a paradigm of indie and vintage goodness.
Big love to John Brassil for taking the awesome photo of "country gal" Tift Merritt that appears in the article
Movin' On Up! Grimey's record shop celebrates grand reopening
knew all these people who would drive to other cities to go record
shopping, and Nashville didn't really have anything. We really thought,
'If you build it they will come.'''- Doyle Davis
Infecting Nashville's lifeless countrypolitan corpse with that sweet
indie-rock fever (it burns!) is a job Grimey's record shop co-owner
Doyle Davis takes seriously. As he explains to The Rage, ''I just
want to create an environment where, when you think of music or
need to know something about music or you want to know where to
find a hard-to-find piece of music, that you think Grimey's.''
Welcome to the new school
As anyone not suffering from agoraphobia can attest, the original
Grimey's location in Berry Hill was no longer sufficient for the
rapidly expanding enterprise. According to Davis, sales for 2003
were up a staggering 92 percent over 2002. ''That's a growing business
with really not very much competition in a market that's ready to
support that kind of business,'' he explains.
The newstore, located at 1604 Eighth Ave. S. in the '20s-era ''Sophia''
building, is three times the size of its predecessor. With its hardwood
floors, spacious rooms and music venue The Basement downstairs,
it's the quintessential space for a record store. The newstore
is sectioned off into four rooms, each catering to a different need
of the Grimey's faithful. Davis gave The Rage a tour of the new
digs before the inventory was moved, walking us through his now-realized
vision. ''The idea for the front room is a place for people to hang
out, with a community bulletin board, magazine and book rack and
then maybe my listening stations, bam and bam,'' he says enthusiastically.
The counter and cash register are located in the center room, which
also holds all new CDs and may become home to the preferred beverage
of the horn-rimmed glasses set: ''We have a water source right in
the middle of the store, and the idea is to do some kind of coffee
service,'' Davis says. ''But I don't want to be making lattes and
not getting the orders done. Music over lattes.'' The back room,
which overlooks the parking lot, is divided into two areas, housing
used CDs and vinyl respectively. Sadly, there is no room for cassingles....
Don't fear change
It has long been understood by those in the know that the original
Grimey's was one of the best record stores in town, and for a city
severely lacking in ''hip factor'' sometimes, the quaint little
shop in Berry Hill was salvation to a small but potent sect of indie-cool
Nashvillians. The store's owners know well who is responsible for
their success, and just because things are changing doesn't mean
anyone will be left behind. This is not to say Grimey's is strictly
for the latte-drinking, Nick Hornby-reading, Sufjan Stevens-listening
coterie. It is a place for all comers, and, as Davis sees it, an
increased selection in music will reflect that.
''It's the passionate music fan who proactively seeks out the good
music; that's our customer base,'' Davis says. ''The more mainstream
customer, who still maybe is very passionate about music but they
don't listen to college radio and they're not hitting pitchforkmedia[.com]
and they're not reading CMJ ... those people, we're going to end
up more on their radar.''
changes include keeping new copies of classics on hand at all times.
''Instead of only stocking (The Rolling Stones') Exile on Main Street
... we want to make sure that we've got Aftermath and Beggar's Banquet
and Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers - you know, really the key Stones
records - in stock.'' In the midst of an excited verbal rampage,
Davis relays that in addition to the classic rock backstock, ''I
also wanna stock more reggae. I want to have the whole Soul Jazz
catalog in there.''
Davis says that all new CDs will eventually be filed alphabetically,
sans genres, although, as he's quick to add, ''We are going to maintain
the separate genres for used product. New CDs we're doing away with
the genres, we're gonna go A-to-Z. I think Johnny Cash and The Clash
and John Coltrane, they all oughta be there next to each other.''
The last big change at Grimey's, and one of the most pivotal, is
the addition of a new employee at the exclusive rank of clerkdom.
Seasoned record store vet Anna Lundy is a welcome addition to the
crew and brings the estrogen quotient that, according to Davis,
any good record store needs. ''You gotta have some female blood
in a good record store, and I mean, she's a good one. She's indie
to the core.'' So rest assured, that quiet little Belle & Sebastianette
wandering around, trying to help you? She won't bite.
To sum it up, Davis leaves us with a somewhat incoherent, but nonetheless
touching quote: ''The goal for me of Grimey's and the 'new' Grimey's
is, you know, it's a big sign that we're moving on up, that the
local community is supporting us, and man, we appreciate that so
much, that's everything we wanted. And then we go on to show Nashville
that we're on the track to provide the kind of independent record
store and environment and community that Nashville's always wanted.
This is going to be a lot more the record store Mike and I envisioned.''
The Grimey's family will celebrate the realization of their vision
with a weekend-long party July 8-11.
- Ryan Norris and Julian Saporiti
'Your one-stop music experience'
It's a typical midday afternoon at Grimey's record store. Customers
wander the aisles, jammed with new and used CDs and vinyl albums,
and stop to chat with the amiable and ever-knowledgeable staff.
Nashville native and longtime New Yorker Laura Cantrell, the critically
acclaimed alternative-country singer-songwriter, has dropped by
with an executive from her indie label, Diesel Only Records.
Co-owner Doyle Davis sits on the front-room sofa talking shop with
a representative from a major record label. Co-owner and store namesake
Mike ''Grimey'' Grimes sits on a stool in the middle of an aisle
transcribing numbers from his cell phone onto a notebook like a
school kid who should be sitting in the corner as punishment, if
only there were a spare corner in which to sit.
''Sorry, dude. I promise you I don't always sit here when you're
in the store,'' Grimes looks up, sheepishly apologizing to a regular
patron, who laughs. Ah, the glamorous workaday lives of music tastemakers.
Only a few weeks have passed since Grimey's moved from its cramped
birthplace in Berry Hill to the lovingly rehabbed first-floor four-square
at 1604 Eighth Ave. S., home of The Basement nightclub. At 1,900
square feet, the new location has nearly triple the floor space.
''Now we have room for people,'' Davis deadpans. ''We had all this
stuff. We just had no way to get at it.''
This weekend, the store will host its official grand opening with
shows tonight and tomorrow night downstairs at The Basement. Tomorrow
also will feature an all-day sale, in-store performances and a cookout
in the building's back-porch parking lot.
Grimes, wearing the hat of Grimey's Presents talent booker, has
lined up singer-songwriter Sam Ashworth (ex-My Tyger) and bandmates
Matt Slocum (Sixpence None the Richer) and Lindsay Jamieson (Departure
Lounge) with opening act Jennifer Niceley and her new band for today's
9 p.m. show. The talent tomorrow night at The Basement includes
the irreverent Alcohol Stunt Band and funk and hip-hop DJs D-Funk
(Doyle Davis' alter-ego) and DJ Happenstance (Grimey's staffer Ben
''We're dipping our toe into doing some more shows downstairs,''
says Grimes. His landlord and potential business partner is present
Basement owner-booker and former 328 Performance Hall kingpin Steve
West, who recently broke matrimonial protocol by playing guitar
and singing with his own band at his wedding reception at The Basement.
Didn't hurt that West's lead singer and bass player is his new wife,
TPAC exec Roberta Ciuffo.
The prospect of a Grimes-West alliance encourages local rock fans
spoiled by Grimes' talent booking successes at his former nightclub
Slow Bar, which closed Labor Day weekend. Slow Bar's easy-does-it
vibe, also prevalent at the old Grimey's location, seems to have
made the move nicely to the growing Eighth Avenue South district.
Says Davis, ''We want to be your one-stop music experience.''
As such, Grimey's in-store performances have become an integral
part of priming the pump for the local nightclub scene, particularly
involving touring young rock bands represented by small, independent
record labels. A recent in-store by indie darlings Pedro the Lion
attracted about 100 fans for a half-hour set preceding the act's
full-blown show later that night at Exit/In. ''The acoustics are
perfect here for in-stores,'' Grimes says.
''We get calls fairly often for in-stores, but we turn a lot of
them down just because we're not excited about the band, or don't
think they'll draw much of a crowd,'' Davis says. ''We want every
one of our in-stores to be events.''
The event ultimately centers around a consumer-friendly, personal
approach to music, a 180-degree swing from the corporate bigness
of Wal-Mart and Amazon.com. ''The message is there's more good music
than there's ever been,'' Davis says. ''The difference is you have
to work harder to find it.''
— Pat Embry
June 1, 2004
Indie record stores filling a niche
By JEANNE ANNE NAUJECK
Low-priced CDs may be great for music fans, but over the past few
years the trend has killed off many of the record stores that used
to pepper urban neighborhoods.
From mom-and-pop shops to chains such as Sam Goody and Tower, record
stores thinned out because they couldn't compete with the razor-thin
profit margins that high-volume retailers such as Wal-Mart and Best
Buy are known for.
But those left standing are thriving, and that's the case for Nashville
independent Grimey's New & Pre-loved Music, which reopens tomorrow
in bigger digs.
Grimey's outgrew its tiny shop in Berry Hill, where for four years
it sold new and used CDs and vinyl record albums out of overflowing
boxes and bins. Its new home is an airy retail space with exposed
brick walls at 1604 Eighth Ave. S., on the ground level of the building
that houses The Basement nightclub.
It's nearly three times larger than the old space and will allow
for a deeper selection of CDs, vinyl and music DVDs, as well as
new product lines such as magazines, books, posters and T-shirts,
co-owner Doyle Davis said.
''We're growing into our market in Nashville,'' Davis said. ''We
couldn't grow much further where we were. I wasn't bringing in product
I knew I could sell.''
Shops like Grimey's have benefited from a thinning of the herd.
After Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target lowered the bar on CD prices,
sometimes selling below cost, large music chains such as Camelot
Music and Musicland closed stores or shut down entirely.
Tower Records filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year.
Virgin Megastores has closed shops, and other chains such as Coconuts
and Strawberries are propping up revenues by selling DVDs. Those
left are thriving.
''Anyone you saw close was teetering anyway,'' said Don VanCleave,
president of the 61-member Coalition of Independent Music Stores,
who was touring Grimey's new space yesterday. ''All our record stores
are through the roof.''
Grimey's can't offer sub-$10 CDs, but it does have a large selection
of used CDs in that price range, a wide range of music not available
in mainstream stores and a knowledgeable staff eager to introduce
new music to customers: if a shopper says he likes the Beatles,
Davis will prescribe The Shins.
Davis maintains that there is more great new music being made now
than ever — it's just not getting played on corporate-owned
''The reason indie stores are actually seeing increases is because
we know how to sell music,'' Davis said. ''We turn people on to
music they didn't know about, and that's something the chains can't
In-store performances by local and touring bands also made the old
Grimey's a popular hangout for patrons to discover new music. The
new space will allow for more of those shows, Davis said.
Along with the in-store shows, co-owner Mike Grimes is booking shows
at The Basement below the retail shop along with building owner
Steve West. Grimes formerly owned Slow Bar in east Nashville's Five
Points area; the bar closed last summer because of escalating rent.
Now, Grimes and Davis believe they're getting in on the ground floor
of a retail area that will run from the developing Gulch through
the thrift and antique shops of Berry Hill. ''It's still affordable,
and that will attract other entrepreneurs who can't afford the rents
of Hillsboro Village,'' Davis said. ''It's only going to develop
and grow here.''
of the Week
April 22-28, 2004
The book and movie High Fidelity nailed the stereotype of the
record-store clerk as vinyl Nazi: brusquely dismissive of customers'
tastes, abusive of any poor sap unfortunate enough to wander in
looking for Coldplay. As the anti-Jack Black, there's Mickey
Parks, Grimey's even-tempered counter man, whose method is
infectious enthusiasm rather than intimidation. A native Nashvillian
and WRVU dee-jay, Parks has tastes that span from Britpop and
garage rock to funk-often months ahead of the curve on trend-setting
acts. A few years back, Parks was tubthumping for something called
the Strokes when most people thought he was talking about Billy
Squier. What makes him crush-worthy is the way he pitches his
pet records to people as something that will improve their lives.
And nine times out of 10, he's right.
Best of Nashville 2003
Scene's Readers' Poll
BEST RECORD STORE IN TOWN!!! (non-chain) - First Place
BEST PLACE TO BUY VINYL -
Thanks to everyone who voted for us!
lovers start a vinyl revival
By JEANNE A. NAUJECK
Sept 28, 2003
the olden days Ñ the 1980s Ñ when people experienced music not
just through the ears, but through the eyes, the fingers and even
the nose? Well, what goes around comes around, and while today
you could build a music collection without ever touching a music
product, some Nashville businesses are thriving on a revival of
interest in playing vinyl records.
The hobbyists include those who can afford to indulge in $1,000
turntables and rare recordings, youngsters to whom record players
are ''new'' technology and anyone who enjoys the sensual thrill
of a record. ''People É once they get a turntable, they start
doing it and all of a sudden, there's this reaction,'' said Doyle
Davis, co-owner and ''vinylist'' at Grimey's Records in Berry
Hill. ''Once they get into vinyl, they tend to really get excited.
People feel an emotional response when they play music. You're
interacting. You're very involved.''
He's talking about people such as Ed Salamon, executive director
of Country Radio Broadcasters and an obsessive record buyer. He
hasn't counted the records in his collection. But he donated 60,000
of his least-favorite records before moving to Nashville from
New York and still has ''a majority'' left. Salamon said his rock
'n' roll-heavy private collection is paid for, not built up through
promotional copies. ''And not just quantity Ñ good stuff,'' Salamon
said. ''Elvis on Sun 45 and 78 (rpm), Beatles' first original
German pressing and their first U.S. issue on Decca Records as
Beat Brothers.'' He credits a childhood spent listening to legendary
Pittsburgh R&B disc jockey Porky Chedwick Ñ ''the Daddio of the
Raddio.'' ''I tried to collect a copy of every song he ever played,
and that got me started,'' he said, returning to the office yesterday
after a midday record-buying trip. ''I was the best customer in
Pittsburgh. They hated to see me go to New York.''
said album sales account for 25% of Grimey's business. That includes
perennial favorites The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and
Neil Young. But it also includes new releases by pop artists such
as The White Stripes, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. Many people
are shocked to discover new releases on vinyl. ''The music industry
really did a great job of trying to kill off the format, to get
everybody to replace their albums with CDs'' on the selling points
of pure sound and durability, he said. Nashville's United Record
Pressing is still making records distributed around the world.
And some artists and labels insist on a vinyl companion to every
Johnny Cash's last vinyl release The Man Comes Around had
two extra songs that weren't on the CD. The same was true for
records by Lucinda Williams and The Jayhawks, artists on Nashville-based
Lost Highway Records. ''They know their fans want it,'' Davis
said. ''People want vinyl so bad that they'll pay $30 or $40 for
a European import, just to have it on vinyl.''
Shipments of new LPs averaged 2.3 million copies (worth $26.5
million) per year over the past 10 years. But more new vinyl releases
were sold last year than in 1993, and they're now on higher-quality,
heavier vinyl, which has solved much of the noise problem of the
past. And while turntable sales are declining overall, there's
a strong market for high-end, high-margin equipment. About 150,000
turntables will be shipped to retailers this year, an 18% drop
over last, said Sean Wargo, director of industry analysis for
the Consumer Electronics Association.
But sales are brisk at Nicholson's Hi-Fi, a family-owned shop
that caters to a high-end clientele and carries seven models priced
from $250 to $4,000, with sleek designs and quality features such
as glass platters. ''Turntables are hot,'' said Alex Nicholson,
a partner in the shop that his father started in 1946. ''They're
making a comeback.'' Nicholson's sells two or three a week, a
marked increase this year, he said. And the shop stays busy restoring
old machines and upgrading mechanical parts such as needles and
On the lower end, retail chain Restoration Hardware offered a
$150 record player in spring 2001 to gauge its popularity for
the holiday season. It broke records Ñ figuratively Ñ becoming
the best selling holiday product in 23 years, Marketing Director
Dave Glassman said. Ed Salamon has one and favors it for playing
even his rarities. ''I'm not necessarily an audiophile,'' he said.
But Lee Lyon, Nicholson's partner and a longtime technician, sees
plenty of customers looking for a top-end player so they can be
a home DJ. ''I've had numerous clients who sold off their collections
and come in wanting to buy a turntable. They say they're going
to the record stores to buy their old albums back,'' Lyon said.
The other end is youngsters discovering the format through a chance
encounter with an old machine. ''At one time there were hardly
any young people involved with records,'' Lyon said. ''Now it's
amazing how many are getting their father's or grandmother's turntable
and needing it fixed up. ''When they hear it, they're surprised.
And when they find they can get music for $1, it's almost as good
as getting it off the Internet for free.''
Next Saturday, in fact, Grimey's is selling hundreds of albums
for $1 apiece in a backyard fire sale. ''A kid can walk in here
with $20 and instead of walking out with one new CD or two used
CDs, he can walk out with a whole armload of records,'' co-owner
Mike Grimes said.
Along with used record shops, the online auction site eBay is
a boon for collectors and ''completists'' Ñ those who seek every
recording ever released of a certain artist, including remixes
and imports. Salamon said he prefers to hunt in places such as
this weekend's Nashville Flea Market. ''I still buy vinyl every
week,'' he said. ''My wife, Katy, said, 'One in, one out.' So
I have to sneak them in after she goes to work.''
Davis also covets the obscure. An avid collector of funk and soul
music, he said some artists released music on 45s that were never
compiled on an LP, much less released on CD. He spins them for
fun as a DJ on radio and in clubs. ''The further back you go in
the format, the more music you find that is not available to the
modern listener,'' he said. Davis, who owns 5,000 LPs and 2,000
to 3,000 45s, said he long ago gave up trying to own all the records
he wanted. Now it's enough just to hold an original black label
Chess recording of Howlin' Wolf.
Several years ago, Davis received some vindication for his lifelong
obsession. During a Christmas visit home, he got a portable, red
plastic battery-powered record player from his mother. ''Everyone
was making fun of me Ñ my brother and his kids. But I get my records
out, I set the whole thing up on the living room table and I start
dropping the needle. ''I had brought stuff like Green Onions by
Booker T and the MGs Ñ songs people know and love already Ñ and
everybody got into it. It went from being like, 'Oh, look at Doyle
and his little toy' to 'Wow, that's cool!'
''It's fun to play records.''
Mike Grimes Doing it all for the music
Aug 27, 2002
Music fans and East Nashville residents have come to love Mike
Grimes, both for his infectious love of music as both a player
and concert promoter, and his zealous devotion to all things hip.
Calling himself a recovering musician, Grimes has
played with a host of Nashville pop artists like Bare Jr., Will
Kimbrough and Garrison Starr. In 1999 he started Grimeys
Preloved Music, a great little record store in Berry Hill, and
in 2000 created the Slow Bar with David Gehrke. Both businesses
are doing fine, he said. I think the best thing anyone
has ever said about me was that, Mike Grimes is a person
that music loves to be around.
What did you think you would be doing by this time in your
Perhaps I would be a successful entertainer/musician. I got pretty
What cant you go 24 hours without doing?
What day of your life would you like to live over again?
If you were an imported beer, what would you be and why?
Do i really have to answer that? I'm a Budweiser guy!
What would others be surprised to know about you?
I am legally blind without my contacts.
If you could own only one record, what would it be?
NRBQ at Yankee Stadium, no question.
Finish this sentence, "I would rather be drug through
cactus than ____.
What would be the title of your autobiography?
What three celebrities would you invite to a slumber party?
David Lee Roth, Ruth Buzzi and Adam Rich from Eight is Enough.
Name the three biggest rushes you get out of life.
Watching people get great music, sex of course, and about 11 p.m.
at a Denny Diamond show it gets very busy.
Grimeys aims for independent music niche
By Amanda Wardle
Aug 12, 2002
Preloved Music is trying to keep Nashville up to speed with the
progressive music scene. Storeowner Mike Grimes is stepping away
from day-to-day operations at the Branford Avenue shop to focus
more on his second business, East Nashvilles Slow Bar. Meanwhile,
Doyle Davis will take over and inject some new ideas into Grimeys.
I want to take Grimeys from a small, used record store
to the full-blown independent record shop Nashville has never had,
Davis joined the store in May after several years working as operations
coordinator for the Great Escape, a Nashville-based chain of comic
book and music stores.
In that time, Davis has made several renovations to the facility
and increased Grimeys new music offerings from about 10 percent
of inventory to about 30-35 percent. The list of new titles is growing
every day, Davis said. Music is expensive, and it may take
a while to increase the inventory, Davis said. But were
committed to getting the titles people want. People in Nashville
who are passionate about music are used to driving to Louisville
or Atlanta to buy music. I want to change that. Davis said he is
also working on new distributor relationships and considering involvement
in the creation of a new coalition of independent record stores.
Its about combating the unfair industry practices that
tend to shut out independent record stores, Davis said of
the possible coalition, which is headed by Eric Levin, owner of
11-year-old Criminal Records in Atlantas Five Points district.
Levin has been working with several stores nation-wide to develop
the coalition in order to aid independent record stores like Grimeys
who fall through the cracks left by other groups like Birmingham-based
Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS), whose membership is
currently closed, and the Music Monitor Network, a group whose membership
is limited to small, independent chain stores.
What I want to do isnt a copy of CIMS, though they were
the first to bat, Levin said. Theyre doing a good
job of supporting the stores they currently have, but in no uncertain
terms, theyre tapped out.
Levin said he will meet casually with a several store-owners, Davis
among them, at the end of August to discuss possibilities for the
coalition such as financial support from major record labels as
well as options like employee benefits and charitable initiatives.
We want stores like Grimeys to be the killer, full-service
independent stores they can be, Levin said. If independent
record shops go out of business, [the consumers] only alternative
is to shop at mainstream, corporate stores. If we can support them
and help them survive, customers have more choices.
Salesman: Mickey Parks, Grimey's
What makes a great salesman? Well, they gotta know their product,
and they gotta know their customer. And it helps if they actually
believe in the product they're selling. Oh, and they have to convince
you to buy the thing without making you feel like you've been manipulated.
But there's something else, an even rarer quality: They've got to
have a sense of humor and fun about the job. That's why Mickey Parks
gets the Scene's endorsement as the best damn salesman in Nashville.
It helps that he's selling records and CDs. But the man knows how
to connect a listener with the right piece of plastic; tell him
what you like, and he'll come up with something you haven't heard
but are bound to enjoy. Sure, he can be relentless, but he knows
it, and that's part of the fun: He expects to be teased about his
hard-sell tactics. And the customers at Grimey's do kid him about
it but always while standing in front of the cash register, with
their wallets open.
Best of Nashville 2002
Nashville Scene's Readers' Poll Winner
Best Record Store (3rd Place)
Best Place To Buy Vinyl (3rd Place)
Best Place To Hock Used Music (3rd Place)
Writers' Poll Winner
Best Salesman: Mickey Parks