Road Trip update #2 – Soundtracks at the Steel City, cigarettes, a deteriorating city and Hoosier hospitality
Day 3: Friday 23rd
We left Pennsylvania and began our drive to Pittsburgh not sure where we would be going to sleep. Luckily for us a man named Chris responded to a Twitter post that we put out asking for a place to crash.
It was late when we got to his house, and we were tired and hungry. Within an hour we were all sitting on his porch eating pizza, drinking beers, listening to some of Julia’s & Eilon’s vinyl selections and laughing while Chris told us stories of his record collecting (mis)adventures on a recent estate sale.
He also told us about his latest purchase of movie soundtracks from director George Romero. Happy and full, we passed out among the record stacks.
Day 4: Saturday 24th
There are those people you meet who have a comfortable and relaxed way about them that spills over into their surroundings, putting those around them at ease even when meeting for the first time. Jay Malls is one of those people.
We arrived at his house in Pittsburgh in the late morning and shortly after we began the first part of a 2 day session with him. After exploring and shooting his vast collection, some of which had recently been water damaged by a roof leak, we went with Jay to the famous Jerry’s Records. Jay has been working at Jerry’s for 17 years and stood by smiling as we conducted an impromptu video interview with Jerry, who sat perched behind the counter telling us some of his story and why he does what he does.
We made plans to visit Jerry’s again the next day and then headed out with Jay to see a little bit of Pittsburgh, this of course involved more coffee and more records. That evening we cooked with Jay at his house and enjoyed easy conversation which included a late night discussion of Mr. Rogers! Once again, when the time came we passed out among the record stacks.
Day 5: Sunday 25th
The great thing about going to sleep next to records is that when you wake up that’s the first thing you see!
We began our morning session with Jay early and among the treasures he showed us was a Minnie Ripperton album from when she was still named Andrea Davis.
We finished up and parted ways with Jay, glad for the time and experience with him. We headed to Chris’s house again for an unplanned photo shoot where his excited energy was contagious.
In the afternoon we caught the tail end of Jerry’s project on his “day off”, which involved sorting through 4,000 records in his soon to be open, basement section.
We devoted the next couple of hours to explore Pittsburgh by foot, eat, take some more photos and… buy some more records.
We got back on the road, Detroit bound and stopped just short of the city to sleep and organize our thoughts.
Day 6: Monday 26th
Our first stop in Detroit was a morning interview with Walter Wasacz, a music journalist who has a tight and eclectic collection. Surrounded by his avant-garde and art-rock vinyl collection he gave us the gospel of Scott Walker.
Once we left, Eilon was wiped out, drained and felt like he needed a break from shooting or any kind of brain work. A little nap and a visit to People’s Records started to revive our energy and when we began exploring some of the empty streets of Downtown Detroit, the camera came back out and we began shooting the deteriorated landscape.
Eilon was fascinated by what we stumbled upon! That night we again relied on the kindness of strangers and put out a Facebook call asking for a place to sleep. This time it was a sweet and welcoming family in a suburban neighborhood in Ann Arbor, MI who put us up for the night. We knew we would be adding another unplanned interview when John showed us his collection which includes special editions and full catalogs of classic rock artists.
Day 7: Tuesday 27th
Today began early with a blueberry pancake breakfast (thanks Debbie!) and a 7 AM interview where John showed us his collection including many sealed and alternate covers records that are all meticulously cataloged and organized.
We took a trip to Encore Records in Ann Arbor before leaving the area and then drove back to Detroit to visit the legendary Bob Mays. When we got there Julia immediately began listening to records hoping to find that next special gem.
Meanwhile we asked Bob about the poetry we had heard he writes. He pulled out multiple volumes and after reading them and enjoying the serious and silly ones, we asked if we could buy some. Bob refused to sell them to us and instead signed them and gave them to us!
The afternoon progressed and as the time passed he began sharing more of his story. He even balanced on an easy chair in order to grab the select few records he himself likes to listen to, these he played for us one by one.
After a full afternoon with Bob we headed out to meet up with Lonnie and his wife Claudia outside of Detroit. Lonnie’s collection includes a great deal of garage rock and Rockabilly, all kept in a basement turned Tiki bar.
We had dinner together then Eilon shared pictures from the project while their dog Levi enjoyed the full house and new people.
Day 8: Wednesday 28th
After filling up on coffee we began the drive to Lafayette Indiana which took us past cornfields and countryside.
When we arrived we met up with a unique and inspiring collector named Matt Scherger. His warm personality made us feel welcome and the interview continued in that same mood as Matt told us his story as a musician himself, as well as a collector.
As a collector he gives away as many records as he acquires and this represents a very special philosophy. We experienced this generosity first hand at the end of the interview when Matt gifted us with multiple albums he thought we might enjoy, including a Mulatu Jazz Quartet album. In return Eilon gave him a photo he took of the same album 4 years ago.
After the interview we ate at a local brewery with Matt, his fiancé Kier, bandmates James and Travis from the group Woodstove Flap Jacks, and his friend Johnny who became our amazing host for the next two nights. After a late night record store stop at Don’t Think Twice Records we followed Johnny into the woods of Indiana.That night we joined Travis and James from Woodstove Flapjacks and they played for us around the campfire late into the night.
Day 9: Thursday 29th
A day off, creek dipping and Hoosier hospitality!!