A big part of Texas music history went dark this past weekend, when Sundance Records went out of buisness after 35 years. But thanks to the San Marcos record store's strong Houston connection, part of its legacy - in fact, a large part of its inventory - is coming here.
Sig's Lagoon, the Midtown record store across from the Continental Club, has inherited Sundance's stock and will rechristen its upstairs loft as the "Sundance Records annex" in a few weeks, Sig's owner Tomas Escalante says. He has already currently moved most of Sig's existing vinyl stock downstairs and is building new racks to accommodate the approximately 10,000 LPs that represents the first part of the Sundance inventory to be transferred.
That number represents a "drop in the bucket" of the inventory Sig's is taking from Sundance, says Escalante. The Sundance annex will also display an "endless" amount of posters and other collectibles Sundance owners Bobby and Nancy Barnard accumulated in their store, which opened in 1977 on the San Marcos courthouse square. Later, Sundance moved to across the street from Southwest Texas State University, (now just Texas State University).
The 21st Century has not been an easy time for physical music sales in general, and mom-and-pop music stores in particular. After years of trying to change with the times, and accumulating one of the most enviable collection of music memorabilia in the state, Sundance's time finally ran out.
"The freshmen in college right now, they were six years old in 1999 when Napster emerged," Sundance manager and former Houston Press/Rocks Off music writer Greg Ellis told the San Marcos Daily Record. "Their entire life where they've been aware of music, the idea of paying for music has just been alien to them."
When the end came, it was big news around Central Texas.
"It's more than a store," Kent Finlay, owner of nearby music venue Cheatham Street Warehouse, told the Austin American-Statesman. "It's a piece of our soul."
Back at Sig's, getting ready for the move, "the upstairs is just about empty," Escalante says.
Escalante hopes to have the first part of the Sundance stock ready for sale by Record Store Day on Saturday, April 21. He's lined up the Allen Oldies Band and Light Rock Express to play, plus a performance and book-signing by former Spirit and Heart member Mark Andes. Bobby Barnard, who once ran a Budget Records & Tapes on Westheimer, will be on hand as well.
Sig's will even keep Sundance T-shirts in stock, part of the deep personal connection the two stores share. Escalante worked at Sundance while attending Southwest Texas.
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Later, when Escalante was with Houston-based distributor Southwest Wholesale, he began dating a girl he knew from their hometown of Corpus Christi, who was then working at Sundance. He would talk to her by phone and in person when he came by to drop off Southwest's Sundance order; today, they are married with two kids.
"The store's been literally a part of my life since 1991," says Escalante. "Seeing it go was sad, but we'll keep it going here. We won't let it die."