In a comment on my entry on the End of the Music Retail Channel, Ed Lorah took me to task for not supporting the very local music stores I hoped would stay in business. And you know, he’s got a really good point, similar to the one Tim Bray made recently about local businesses in Melbourne, where he said:
The economy is deeply different than North America’s; a bunch of business models still work here that, where I come from, I suspect have been plowed under the harrows of strip-malls, Wal-Marts, and remote shopless subdivisions. Everywhere you go you see butcher shops, toystores, greengrocers, bakers, staffed by members of every ethnic group including my own, some of whom are young and eager-looking and apparently see this as a career.
Retail in the New World isn’t like this any more. Which is a pity; working in a bakery may not have the glamour of the fast track through college to the finance industry, but for damn sure you’re not going to get outsourced or offshored.
Another consequence is that things can be startlingly expensive. Partly this is the result of the Aussie Dollar having been on a rocket ride recently, too fast for the import price corrections to have worked their way through the system. But I think a big part of it is that when you shop at a smallish place that you can walk to, staffed by people who think of it as a job, you’re going to end up paying more than when you drive to a big-box store staffed by people earning peanuts and turning over at 50%/year or more. So if a head of lettuce or a laundered shirt or cut of lamb costs more, that seems like a good trade-off, to me.
So this past weekend I took myself down to Silver Platters and bought four new CDs at full retail. What did I buy? Glad you asked!
Charlie Haden and Kenny Barron – Night and the City (*wonderful* live piano/bass duo doing mostly standards, live in a small club).
The Emerson String Quartet – JS Bach, The Art of the Fugue (one of the best current string quartets new recording of Bach’s final work).
Viktor Krauss – Far from Enough (Viktor Krauss is a contemporary bass player usually labelled as a country traditionalist like his sister Allison, but who has spent much of the past few years playing with Bill Frisell and other more out-there practicioners of contemporary American music. This is his first recording under his own name, featuring Frisell and others in an atmosperic but melodic and live-feeling outing).
Norah Jones – Feels Like Home (I’m still not entirely convinced about Norah Jones – I think if I wandered into a local club and heard her I’d be impressed, but how could she live up to the hype? Michele likes her a lot, however, and my first impression of her new CD is that she sounds a lot more comfortable and convincing in this roots-folky setting than she did attempting the jazz-esque context of her debut).