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Vinyl Variety: Nic Andrea Goes In Depth on His Favourite LA-Based Shops

Nic Andrea gives us an in-depth look at his five favourite Los Angeles-based record shops in our latest Vinyl Variety feature.



Nic Andrea @ Arroyo Records, photo by Nic Andrea
Nic Andrea @ Arroyo Records, photo by Nic Andrea

The last year has been something of a musical renaissance for Nic Andrea. Last year, he released his debut solo album, Blues @ Dark, which featured a #1 Blues single in “Whiskey Whispers.” That album acted as a bridge to his new musical aspiration, Nic Andrea & the Verdict. The band comprises Andrea and several highly regarded Los Angeles-based session musicians. They have all spent the last year getting to know each other musically and recording in the studio. The result is their new album, Jimi Come Home, which was just released last month. To get the best possible result, the band members spent hours together in the studio. This gave them the freedom to experiment and let their music evolve naturally.

This process led to the recording of three EPs. Jimi Come Home is the band’s most expansive recording yet. The album is a sort of mishmash of truth and fiction from Andrea’s mind. He states that it is true that a man named Jimi packed up his guitar and walked out in the middle of their band practice without any explanation. Never to be heard from again, the album is Andrea’s imagination of what happened to Jimi and what personal demons he may have been facing. Along with the album, a short film of the same name was released earlier this month. It tells the story that unfolds between the album tracks.

As an old-school fan of the Stones and many other legends of the vinyl generation, it’s no surprise that Nic Andrea is a big vinyl collector. He joins us today for Vinyl Variety, sharing with us his favourite vinyl shops in the Los Angeles area.

1. Poo-Bah Record Shop (Google Maps)
Address: 2636 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA, 91107
Phone: (626) 449-3359

I started with the closest record shop to my home which, not coincidentally, is the one I stop at regularly to personally greet the “new arrivals.” Poo-Bah has a special place in my heart because it is the first shop that I know of to sell my vinyl record, Blues @ Dark. It’s on a sleepy corner, you can miss the sign if you blink, but once found, it beckons you warmly through the doors.

Depending on the section you choose to camp out in, the guy at the counter will throw on a vinyl from that same genre. LPs start at 50 cents for lesser-known artists but if you are patient, you invariably happen upon something. The key word here is “dig.” I dig and I dig and I dig, never to leave without something under my arm. This time was no different.

After a good 30 minutes of rapid-fire flipping through the albums, I bought Freddie Hubbard’s Windjammer (1976), very good condition for $5.26. It’s not the most acclaimed work in his catalog, jazz musicians were just trying to survive the disco era at the time. But regardless, he’s a consensus top-10 trumpet player of all time. For the price, it was the perfect addition to round out my Freddie Hubbard collection of a dozen albums spanning back to his Blue Note days.

Poo-Bah Record Shop

Poo-Bah Record Shop

2. Atomic Records (Google Maps)
Address: 3812 W. Magnolia Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 91505
Phone: (818) 848-7090

Atomic Records screams “iconic landmark” the second you stroll through the door. In an eerie coincidence, and I kid you not, as I was writing this article, I was watching Six Feet Under on Netflix and the character “Nate” walked into the very same Atomic Records to buy some CDs.

But since this is about real-life experience, I will get back on message. The gregarious owner, Steve, shares a pic of the time Robert Plant dropped in without any prompting. Ask Steve for access to the “back room,” which houses a special blues vinyl collection if you have the time. This is an absolute paradise for the collector and make sure to leave extra time to peruse the crates of low-priced selections. The high-end records are also there for the taking, but have your phone handy to do the proper comparison shopping.

Today, I am looking for Chet Baker. I have a soft spot for Chet because, like me, he was a combo vocalist/trumpet player. True to form, the repetitive flipping process strikes gold, and I walk away with an original pressing of the Gerry Mulligan Reunion with Chet Baker (1958). I’m not going to say how much I spent in case someone thinks I overpaid. You can’t put a price on happiness.

3. Canterbury Records (Google Maps)
Address: 805 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA, 91101
Phone: (626) 792-7184

Canterbury Records opened in 1956 which makes it LA’s oldest record store while legendary shops like Tower Records and Virgin passed into oblivion. The reason for its longevity is readily apparent, the broad selection is awe inspiring and the staff is chomping at the bit to help you in your search for whatever record your heart desires. I plan to return for their Black Friday event with 170 limited edition vinyl records.

Although Canterbury has every type of media imaginable (DVDs, CDs etc.) I’m here for the “black gold” which is classic vinyl. Although it is not a rare pressing and I ended up paying market value ($27.99), I still walk away happy with a Blue Note Classic Vinyl Series reissue of Miles Davis Vol. I. You can never have too much of Miles.

4. Run Out Groove Records (Google Maps)
Address: 3607 W. Magnolia Blvd. Unit N, Burbank, CA, 91505
Phone: (818) 638-4811

If Canterbury is the venerable old man of the group, Run Out Groove Records is the young child bursting through the school doors for the first day of class. It opened in November of last year, the passion project of owners Ellen Rehak and Jeff Ferguson. The selection may not be immense compared to others, but the choices are all top-notch. In minutes, I found what I was looking for- another Blue Note Classic Vinyl Series reissue, Mosaic by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers ($27.98).

I knew that I had found a kindred spirit when I went to the counter for the purchase and Jeff admitted that that he had grabbed the same album for himself when the shipment came in. He then gave me a Run Out Groove Records coaster and volunteered to snap a picture for me with my purchase! They clearly love what they do at Run Out Groove Records and that makes me want to come back again soon.

5. Arroyo Records (Google Maps)
Address: 5123 ½ York Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 90042
Website: N/A
Phone: (909) 374-4730

Arroyo Records is another relative “newbie” which opened at the height of the COVID pandemic in September of 2020. Last year, they were in the news because thieves hauled off a slew of their records and a fellow record shop lured the culprits into a police trap with a promise to buy the pilfered merchandise. Make no mistake about it, this is a shop with a pulse. Where else can you attend a Lou Reed listening party on a Friday night with food, drinks, and a raffle?

The store has a very Bohemian feel to it. Like the cool chick in the school cafeteria reading a Franz Kafka book. She may be hard to strike up a conversation with but if you do, she’s the most interesting person in the room. A good sign: the soul/funk/jazz strains of The PharohsAwakening album (1971) immediately greets me as I walk insider. This is the last shop I visited for this article. I am determined to come away with something special for less than the $88 and spare change in my wallet. I walked out beaming with 180-gram classic pressings of Mulligan Meets Monk and Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane for a combined price of $87.81.

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