The last days of Mojo Music

Today, another name is added to the growing list of used record stores that have closed in Boston over the last few years. Remember these?

Disc Diggers, Mars Records, Phase 4 Records, Record Hog, Smash City Records, Mystery Train. Not to mention Biscuit Head, Calabash, and all the other small independent stores that come and go (but seem to go more than come).

Yup. Mojo music is closing today. While it is just one more in a long series of used record store closings in the area, this one hits close to home for me (figuratively and literally). Mojo has been a favorite stop on my route since it opened in the (mid?) 1990’s. From their extensive dollar and inexpensive new arrival bins to their listening station and crates of 1980’s reggae singles, this has long been a local mecca for me. Reorganizing my records recently, it seemed that every 5th one had a Mojo label on it. This is where I got my Winston’s “Amen” single and the Chakacha’s classic “Jungle Fever”. I can’t even count the blissful Sundays spent diggin through the dollar bins downstairs.

Needless to say, I have spent a lot of time in there lately. Just recently, I had arrived early enough that no one noticed me slip down into the dusty basement. Some two hours later, I staggered up the stairs, bleary eyed and clutching some strange disco and kids records. Taking one look at me (and not realizing I had come in earlier), David hollered from behind the counter: “Just waking up there, Pace?”. We had a good laugh, but I might as well have slept over these last few weeks. When their 50% off sale hit, I probably looked through half the records in there. The other half? I saw those when they came in 😉

Those younger folks among you might be laughing at this point. “Dude, you can get all those records on line now. Helooooo.” Yeah, I know you can get almost any record you want on E-bay and Gemm (if not on a brand new compilation at Dusty Groove). Guess what? It’s not the same. Sorry. As more and more of our media consumption becomes computer mediated and collaboratively filtered, we loose something unique and irreplaceable (even as we gain variety along with a repetitive stress injury).

Since the beginning of the record industry, small local stores have served as watering holes for local musicians, collectors, audiophiles, vinly junkies and other music obsessives (and just plain wierdos). In their capacity to attract people seeking information (customers) and people seeking to dispense it (often too much of it, for too long, when you didn’t even ask for it) used record stores are places where the very threads that make up the fabric of musical culture are woven.

Just a few weeks ago, I was in Mojo’s and Peter Wolfe wandered in. As he laughed with David about some inside joke only two local music mavens would understand, I realized how big a hole Mojo is going to leave in the social and cultural fabric of Cambridge.

At least the Plough is back. I’ll be there later, trying to drown out the echo of the sound of the lock closing on the Mojo door this one last time. (If I am lucky, maybe they’ll lock me in there!)

We’ll miss you Mojo.

Vinyl Junkies Hall of Fame Vol 1: 石岡市の旧家 (指南オーディオ道場) 青柳邸の門構え

This is the first of reoccurring set of entries giving respect to the most inspired and committed vinyl junkies and record obsessives among us. And there are lots to choose from. Believe me. But why try the rest, when you can start with the best?

Allow me to set the scene:

The e-mail subject line caught my eye right away. “The most astoundingly beautiful audio pictures…” Audio pictures?!?!? Man, what’s next? Movies with little scratch and sniff cards? (Of course, there is even a copyright battle going on about odorama, it turns out.) Being a big fan of synesthesia myself, I opened it with glee.

“…I’ve ever seen.”

As I read on, it dawned on me.

“Take a few minutes out of your busy day to drool — especially if, like myself, you’re into the, ah, older stuff.”

Knowing Clark, I quickly realized that this was going to be some high grade product. Audio product that is. As in gear. Well, see for yourself.

Thanks CJ! (and most of all…Mr. Aoyagi!!)