‘Round The Dial thought it might be a larf to hear some humorous tales from John Ewing, one of St. Paul’s favorite local musicians/vinyl record store clerks. John, a Texas-to-Minnesota transplant, has a brilliant back catalog of powerful, guitar driven Americana/pop-rock, a nifty dry wit, and the memory of an elephant. A serious compendium of his years supporting his music career as a record store clerk and on the rock scene in general would literally fill a nice-sized chap book- his time spent as manager for the late, beloved Earl Root at Root Cellar Records on Snelling Avenue in St. Paul would certainly fill several highly interesting and genuinely funny chapters alone. Alas, Earl has left this mortal coil, Root Cellar has long been shut down, and John now works at Cheapo Records, also on Snelling Avenue. If there’s anything good at all about about John’s change of work venues, it’s that he comes across more people with LESS knowledge of vinyl in general, thereby providing those of us a with bit more awareness of the medium with even more funny encounters/overheard conversations to hoot an’ holler over. Watch upcoming editions of Pandora’s box for reviews of his work with The John Ewing Band and great albums like Delta Flares, Seen Yer Face, the solo album Augustine, and more, as well as news of some exciting new upcoming projects John’s working on! For now, let’s take a peek through those dusty stacks of vinyl he works around and catch some of the daily action at a local record store. Cheapo’s vinyl store in St. Paul is located at 80 Snelling Ave N Saint Paul, MN 55104, you can reach them by phone at 651-644-7499 or online at www.cheapodiscs.com
1.)”I’m looking for some music from back in the day, my mom’s like 39 so you know, old stuff” -Random Teenie
2.) “People use to do drugs off of these things…” -Random Teenies looking at a record album which, ironically, was an Ed Ames record…..So they were only partly correct…
3.) “I can’t find Lynyrd Skynyrd, is he filed under HIS first name or last name? -Dude
4.) Molly Hatchet…(see above)
5.) “Look Dad, they got the big CD’s here!” -Kiddie holding up a brand new Atmosphere record to show his Pa.
6.) A puzzled customer looking for the Chris Gaines CD only to find that Chris Gaines is actually filed with Garth Brooks CD’s…….well because, you know, HE is freakin’ Garth Brooks! It was like somebody had stuck a knife through the guys’ heart! Sorry buddy, hated to break the news…
7.) “I’m looking for that song Pina Coladaville?”
This is funny if only for the simple fact that it combines the two songs I despise the most, “Margaritaville” and “The Pina Colada Song”…….Shit, now I got that line in my head “If you’re not into yoga…..”
8.) I witnessed a young lady trying to fit a CD onto our store-play turntable. She kept putting the CD on the spindle hole and closing the lid. Then she’d put the earphones on and fiddle with all the knobs. This went on for several minutes before I couldn’t take it anymore. So I told her “Our, ahem….our CD player must be broken.”
These last 2 stories are from my days at Root Cellar Records- I had to give a nod torwards my old stomping grounds and to my good friend Earl Root who left us in 2008:
9.) On Christmas Eve (don’t remember the year) I was checking out an elderly couple who were buying a Perry Como Christmas record. Well all of a sudden, Impaler’s front man, Bill Lindsey, comes walking through the front door in full corpse makeup! Blood, gore, and more blood! The elderly couple turned white with fear! The man put his arms around his wife’s shoulders as if to protect her from a Christmas Eve slaughter! Bill stops, smiles, extends his hand, and says in his not so scary non-anti-Christ voice “Hey folks, Merry Christmas! I’m Bill, nice to meet you”……I’ll never forget that, simpler times I suppose.
10.) This is my favorite record store story. I was working with Earl when a dude walks up to the counter and asks about a rare “Witchfinder General” record on the wall. He asks Earl if the price is really 50 bucks and Earl says something like “Yeah, that record is impossible to find, you won’t find a nicer copy” The guy looks at it and offers 30 bucks to which Earl replies, “Dude, I dunno, this thing is really nice…..I’ll tell you what- I’ll sell it to you for 40 bucks.” The guy looks at it, shakes his head and replies back to Earl “You take 35?”…….Man, Earl got real freakin’ quiet, and not “good” quiet, either. Earl asks the guy to bring him the record and upon inspecting it very closely. Then Earl takes the record and smashes it over his knee!! With the 2 broken pieces of rare Metal vinyl in his fists he hands them to the startled Guy and Says “Dude, just take it”. As the guy slumped off in confusion, Earl turned to me and said, “John, that was totally worth it. Besides, I’ve got two more copies at home!!”