Record Store of the Week | The End Of All Music (Oxford, MS)

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This week we continue our newly revived Record Store of the Week series by heading back to the South to shine a light on End Of All Music. Nestled into the college town of Oxford Mississippi, End Of All Music is a true small-town gem (and former home of Bobby Whitlock – recently re-issued via LITA’s Future Days imprint). We spoke with co-owner David Swider about Hill Country Blues, Fat Possum, and the merits of keeping your hands dirty.
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1. Tell us a little about End Of All Music.  How did you come to open the store there? 

We opened the store in March of 2012. Before that there was a record store dry spell in Oxford for about 6 years. So it was time. The previous store closed after only a few years of business, and was mainly CDs, so there hasn’t been a vinyl record store in Oxford in over a decade or more. I was working at the excellent bookstore we have here, Square Books, for about 5 years and buying records the whole time, which I would have to drive to Memphis to do. Bruce Watson, who runs Fat Possum Records here in town, got wind that I was interested in opening a store and I knew he had a ton of experience in the matter as well as a hunger for a record store in town. So we got together a few times, quickly became friends, found a location, and here we are.

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2. Oxford is a fairly small town, but in proximity of a rich music history (hill country blues, Memphis, etc). Is that reflected in the type of records you see coming through used?  What are people generally selling and buying? 

Oxford is probably the most liberal town in Mississippi and it’s probably the biggest cultural hub mainly due to William Faulkner being born and living here, as well as the University of Mississippi, which is also here. As for what people bring in to sell; it’s mainly the classic stuff (Beatles, Dylan, etc.) but we also see a good bit of Memphis soul and blues LPs, which I always get giddy about.  Lots of folks around here have stacks of Stax LPs in their closets or crazy, rare blues LPs. It’s just a matter of letting them know those records are worth something and should be listened to.

The buying on the other hand is typical record store behavior. We sell a lot of turntables to college kids, therefore we sell a lot of records to people just starting to collect, which is always exciting. We’re also the storefront for Fat Possum Records so we sell their whole catalog (CD and vinyl) in the shop. That brings in quite a few folks, whether they’re hill-country blues fans or Spiritualized fans—Fat Possum keeps putting out excellent records (i.e. the new Jackson Scott record coming out later this month).

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3. Do good records regularly walk in the door or do you have to go out and find them?

I’d say it’s half and half. I’m amazed at what walks in the door but I’m also always up for the hunt. I had to put on rubber gloves and a face mask a few months ago to dig through a record collection in an old house that hadn’t been touched in years. And it was totally worth it—found a Pavement “Demolition Plot J-7” 45 still in the sleeve! It ruled!

4. Do you have a record that will sell/people will inquire about every time you put it on?

For a while it was “The True Story of Abner Jay” that Mississippi Records put out. That’s just an amazing record and it never failed to get someone’s attention.  We sold a ton of them but unfortunately it’s out of print now. Lately we’ve been playing the new Water Liars LP, “Wyoming,” (Big Legal Mess) and it’s just incredible. It’s a really great record and I’d say we sell a copy 80% of the time we play it in the store. We even made a little badge to stick on the record that says “Most Played Award.”

If you haven’t heard Water Liars please go check them out. They live in a little town about 20 miles south of Oxford called Water Valley. Bruce—the other owner—is producing their next record that comes out this fall (he runs a studio too).  It’s going to be good.

5. What is the coolest/weirdest/most prized record that’s come into the store that you never thought you’d see? 

Someone brought in a Beatles butcher cover not long ago, which was cool. We’ve had a few folks bring in original Big Star LPs, which are so hard to not take home! A cool country record by Eddie Bond came in a few weeks ago with awesome cover art by Memphis wrestling legend Jerry “The King” Lawler. And every once in a while someone brings in old Sun Records 78s and 45s—sometimes I can afford them and sometimes I can’t—but they’re always cool to see.  Someone recently brought in a box full of Wayne Newton records and just when I was about to give up flipping through them there was nearly the entire Brian Eno catalog in Near Mint condition. I almost fainted. It was just the LAST thing I expected to see in Mississippi. It was great.

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6. What’s the best thing about living in/having a record store in Oxford?  

Oxford is a small town but it doubles in size when the University is in session. We’re also a big SEC sports town—Ole Miss football, basketball, baseball, tennis–so sports events make for big weekends and they’re always fun. That doesn’t always translate into more business for us, but we do just fine. Our shop is a little off the beaten path. We’re about 2 miles from the downtown Square where most of the action takes place and where rent is crazy.  So we get zero foot traffic but it suits us fine because we know the people that come out this way are serious about records and want to be here. And we usually give the store turntable a break and put the game on the radio.

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7. Any old bluesmen come in the shop (or are they all gone)? 

We don’t see too many bluesmen these days. Sadly most of them have passed on–most recently T-Model Ford. We do get tons of blues aficionados and journalists coming through who always seem to find records they’ve been looking for, which is awesome. Most bands that come through town stop by and always have nice things to say about the store. We’ve had some cool in-store shows too. Jon Langford of the Mekons played a surprise in-store show the day we opened. He just happened to be in town. Oxford is so small that it’s easy to recognize most people that come in to the shop. I always see people around town and remember what records they bought and now I’ve become the record-store guy to a bunch of folks and made tons of new friends.

8. How’s the scene in Oxford these days?  Turn us on!

The music scene in Oxford is pretty similar to most college towns in the South. We have quite a few bars/music venues that host music most nights of the week ranging from jam band and faux blues to indie-pop and rock. There is an interesting arts collective here called Cats Purring (www.catspurring.com). It’s several bands—Dent May, Dead Gaze, Bass Drum of Death, Flight, ILLLS, Child Star—that are all friends and play/host shows together pretty regularly.  Cats Purring is always doing something cool and good in town. All the folks in those bands are also frequent customers and buddies of the record store. Whenever they put out a new record (most recently Bass Drum of Death on Innovative Leisure and Dead Gaze on FatCat, and forthcoming Dent May on Paw Tracks) we host a record release party and have a big time.

9. What’s your favorite LITA release and why? 

Man, this is tuff. The Wendy Rene release really hit home. That record is just a really great collection and those songs should really be heard by anyone that cares about soul music or Stax or Memphis.  I’m also a huge fan of the Serge Gainsbourg reissues. Those records were so hard to find for so long and it was so great being able to just walk into any cool record store and buy one. Man, and those Louvin Brothers releases were insane!  I can’t pick. Too hard of a question!

10. Rolling Stones “I Got the Blues” or Dead Moon “I Hate The Blues”?

Hmmmm…another tough one. I’ll have to go with the Rolling Stones, however I’ve got all the Dead Moon records and probably listen to them more. So, it’s a tie I guess. The Rolling Stones did record “Wild Horses.” So there’s that.

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The End Of All Music

1423 North Lamar Blvd.
Oxford MS, 38655
(662) 281-1909
Monday through Saturday 19AM to 6PM
Sunday 12AM to 5PM
*Summer Mondays: Open 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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