Interview: Euclid Records New Orleans Manager James Weber Gives a State of the Store
A to Z took an impromptu trip to our sweaty sister in the dirty south for the Mardi Gras festivities, and we were saddened to find the New Orleans outpost of Euclid Records shuttered. "We closed that Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. There was nothing happening," says James Weber, the St. Louis transplant who mans the happy pink and yellow building in the charming, graffiti-splashed Marigny neighborhood. Indeed, all the action was down in the French Quarter, but we caught up with Weber last week to get an update on the the store, the vinyl scene in New Orleans, and his take on St. Louis from 677 miles down I-55.
Diana Benanti Euclid Records New Orleans, 3400 Chartres Street.
Diana Benanti: Since you opened in September of last year, what has the reception been from the neighborhood?
James Weber: We had been living in the neighborhood for months and months before that, and selling records out of an open air market. As we looked for locations we decided pretty early on that the Bywater was the only place for the store. Because of that we had lots of time to work with the neighborhood association and just meet the people on the block.
What was the impetus for opening the New Orleans store?
The vinyl culture in this town is a smaller percentage. St. Louis is very blessed to have three huge independent record stores and a handful of small shops, and there just isn't that here. There's Louisiana Music Factory in the French Quarter that has their own niche, and a great store on Bayou Road called Domino Sound. There hasn't been a store in the style of a Euclid Records or a Vintage Vinyl that has bands several times a week and generally just makes themselves more of a destination, a cultural ground zero, I guess, for music and art.
There was a poster for Rum Drum Ramblers on the flyerboard, How did that show go?
The string-band scene down here is kind of a huge thing, we probably had fifty or sixty folks. Chris from Big Muddy Records was down here and he and the Rum Drum guys cooked up a bunch of food and we had kind of a block party.
Is the door open for St. Louis bands to play at Euclid?
We're leaving it open for any bands. Magic City played here a month ago, they played at the store and then did a club show at the Saturn Bar. It's a unique opportunity to sort of try and get a steady stream of traffic down the river--the two cities have been sister cities forever whether either of them realize that or not. The trail of musicians over the last 65 years going from Chicago to St. Louis, Memphis, New Orleans; it's traditionally been a route to exchange music."
Is there a particular performance or show that's been especially memorable?
Certainly our opening weekend was a big deal. We had two days of bands, food outside [and] free beer from Pabst, which was a big help. The whole neighborhood came out, and a large chunk of the bands are bands that are based in neighborhood -- the Bywater, the Marigny, the Ninth Ward bands -- so [there was] just a big strong sense of community. That was pretty great, it was a nice way to be welcomed down here.
Can you give us some recommendations for New Orleans bands we should check out?
The rock band down here Felix is pretty great. They're a three piece [with] organ, drums, guitar. They'll be playing in St. Louis in June I believe, doing two shows there. They do a fair amount of touring, their stuff is available online to listen to, they just put out their first vinyl release.