On Saturday night Vinal Edge threw a grand opening bash at its new 19th Street location, in the heart of the Heights, with beer, music, snacks, and friends of the store young and old coming by to help ring in a new era in VE history. Owner Chuck Roast and his VE staff left their longtime digs on Veterans Memorial Drive a few weeks back after more than 26 years.
VE had been open for business all last week, but Saturday night was the official opening party. The move seemed to have been in the wind for years now, and Roast had dropped strong hints during interviews I had been doing for a print feature on vinyl in Houston in early April. By early May, Roast was announcing his exodus down south. Saturday he held court with old friends and handed out complimentary beers.
Hamamatsu Tom & The Kroger Sushi River Band were the featured musical act on Saturday night, playing their second gig just 24 hours after playing the Continental Club the night before with Taylor Lee & the Swamp Sessions and Blackie Dammett.
Comparisons of Hamamatsu Tom to Hawkwind, early wooly Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and Can were running rampant most of the weekend. The band's slow grinding rock, lead by guitarist/vocalist Tom Triplett and featuring the intermittent wails of saxophonist Ralf Armin at times evoked the Stooges circa Fun House, turning trance-inducing at certain angles. Grandfather Child's Lucas Gorham was in the mix too, laying down apocalyptic lap steel. I'm excited to see and hear more of HM & KSRB in the future.
It will be interesting to see how the neighborhood treats this iconic record haunt, with VE in the thick of all the surrounding, comparatively genteel, antique and craft stores -- VE will be the oddballs on the drag. The other businesses on 19th have welcomed them with excitement.
The interior is a lot more spread out than the location up north, allowing for a less claustrophobic experience that had overwhelmed some off Veterans Memorial. As for the inventory, all the stuff you Inner Loopers made the rewarding drive for are now just a few minutes away.
Friends who were devotees of the shop that didn't make it up but maybe every few months have already made a handful of trips to the new VE in just the week or so it's been open.
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No one can rightfully say in 2012 that Houston has no cool record stores, with Sound Exchange, Black Dog and Cactus Music in the Montrose area, and Sig's Lagoon holding its own off Main around the corner from the Continental Club.
Vinal Edge is now the second record store in the Heights, following in the footsteps of Heights Vinyl off White Oak, which opened last December.