Rolling Stone
Posted July 28, 2005

Schools That Rock
5. Nashville

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

published: (07/08/04)

Movin' On Up! Grimey's record shop celebrates grand reopening

''We 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.''

Other 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


The Tennessean

'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 Nichols).

''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 ''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

The Tennessean
June 1, 2004

Indie record stores filling a niche

Staff Writer

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 radio.

''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 compete with.''

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.'

Crush 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.

Nashville Scene
Best of Nashville 2003
Nashville Scene's Readers' Poll

THE BEST RECORD STORE IN TOWN!!! (non-chain) - First Place



Thanks to everyone who voted for us!

The Tennessean

Music lovers start a vinyl revival
Sept 28, 2003

Remember the olden days the 1980s 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 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 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 ''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.''

Davis 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 CD release.

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 belts.

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 figuratively 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'' 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 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 songs people know and love already 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.''

Nashville, Tn

City Confidential
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 Grimey’s 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.’”

Inside Info

What did you think you would be doing by this time in your life?
Perhaps I would be a successful entertainer/musician. I got pretty close.

What can’t 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 ____.”
… you would.

What would be the title of your autobiography?

Don't Sleep

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.

Nashville, Tn

Grimey’s aims for independent music niche

By Amanda Wardle
Aug 12, 2002
Doyle Davis
Grimey’s 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 Nashville’s Slow Bar. Meanwhile, Doyle Davis will take over and inject some new ideas into Grimey’s.

“I want to take Grimey’s from a small, used record store to the full-blown independent record shop Nashville has never had,” Davis said.

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 Grimey’s 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 we’re 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.

“It’s 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 Atlanta’s Five Points district.

Levin has been working with several stores nation-wide to develop the coalition in order to aid independent record stores like Grimey’s 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 isn’t a copy of CIMS, though they were the first to bat,” Levin said. “They’re doing a good job of supporting the stores they currently have, but in no uncertain terms, they’re 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 Grimey’s to be the killer, full-service independent stores they can be,” Levin said. “If independent record shops go out of business, [the consumer’s] only alternative is to shop at mainstream, corporate stores. If we can support them and help them survive, customers have more choices.


Nashville Scene
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

Best 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.
--Jonathan Marx