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It's Record Store Day - a time to celebrate indie shops as cultural hubs

One of the highlights of Record Store Day is hopping between downtown shops to catch the free in-store performances rocking the scene all afternoon.

“We feature a lot of local musicians,” says Troy Hutchison, co-owner of Grooves Records.

Record Store Day, taking place Saturday, celebrates independent stores and the cultural hubs they often become.

“It’s kind of like a church for record fans,” Hutchison says with a laugh. “People come in and chat about music all day, flip through the albums and look at the artwork.”

The stores serve an important role, says Mike Bott, co-owner of Hot Dog Musique and Cinema.

“We do our best to serve and help educate the community about the value of music, regardless of any sort of return on our investment,” he says.

“I think, in contrast, that the mall stores or corporate chains push the mainstream commercial agenda, and it’s boring and uninspiring.”

Saturday’s lineup at Hot Dog (256 Richmond St.) is anything but uninspiring, featuring a long list of innovative musicians, including London-based Timothy Glasgow at 6 p.m.

Glasgow is a well-known audio engineer who designed Giant Studio for Metric in Toronto. He will play the theremin, an early electronic instrument controlled without any contact from the player.

The Hot Dog lineup also includes Tires at 1 p.m., Billy Christopher at 2 p.m., Curb at 3 p.m., Suangi at 4 p.m., New Zebra Kid/Quinn Read-Baxter at 5 p.m. and Carl Didur at 7 p.m.

Over at Grooves (353 Clarence St.), Noise Level will take the stage at noon, Dragsville at 1 p.m., I Smell Blood at 4 p.m. and Say Domino at 5 p.m.

Music sets will be punctuated with games, contests, prizes, free food, drinks, sales and exclusive releases.

“There are hundreds of titles being pressed on vinyl just for that day,” Hutchison says. “It brings a lot of big collectors in.”

Some special releases available at Grooves are Wigwam by Bob Dylan, featuring two previously unreleased songs, and a reissue of River of Deceit/I Don’t Know Anything by Mad Season (featuring members of Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam and Screaming Trees).

“It’s going to be a real fun vibe,” Hutchison says.

“It’s kind of like a family reunion in a way, because folks we haven’t seen in a while wander back in on Record Store Day.”

Other stores participating include Speed City Records, Sunrise Records and The Beat Goes On.

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