Lew Prince and Tom "Papa" Ray on What Makes Records (Still) Vital

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Jon Scorfina
Lew Price and Tom "Papa" Ray
Having interviewed over 50 of St. Louis' record aficionados, Last Collector Standing is ending the column on an interview with the proverbial "kings of the scene," Vintage Vinyl owners Tom "Papa" Ray and Lew Prince. For over 30 years, Vintage Vinyl (6610 Delmar Boulevard, 314-721-4096) has been hub for local music lovers, introducing thousands of people to new and exciting musical acts and exposing each new generation to the experience of vinyl. The store is now a must-see St. Louis landmark, still drawing people away from their computers and into the record store. We met with Ray and Lew in the office of Vintage Vinyl, where we discussed how the duo got their start in the record business and the future of music in the digital age.

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DJ Needles On Growing Up With Vinyl And His Gold Records

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Photo by Jon Scorfina
On the verge of the release of the RFT "Best of St. Louis" 2011 issue, Last Collector Standing decided to meet with last year's winner for "Best Club DJ," DJ Needles, to discuss what it takes to make a great DJ. Of course, vinyl was involved. Needles (a.k.a. Nodzill, a.k.a. James Gate) is the son of legendary St. Louis radio DJ James Gates Sr. Over the last decade, however, DJ Needles has made quite a name for himself around town on his own accord. We met at his Dogtown apartment, filled to the ceiling with records, where Needles reflected about his career as a DJ: A career that has earned him two honorary gold records and the opportunity to perform with Digable Planets' Ladybug Mecca.

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Joe Edwards on the Value of Collecting, Conversation and Chuck Berry

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Photo by Jon Scorfina
Many St. Louisans know Joe Edwards as the man behind the revitalization of the Delmar Loop. His imagination has spawned Blueberry Hill, the rehabilitated Tivoli theatre, the Pageant, the Moonrise Hotel, and most recently the Chuck Berry statue. His joyous projects have attracted people from all over the world to come and explore St. Louis, thereby earning Edwards a reputation as the Willy Wonka of the Delmar Loop.

What most people don't know about Edwards, however, is that he's a lifelong record collector, and many of his prized records are on display at his bar for everyone to savor. We met at Blueberry Hill for lunch and discussed everything from the value of collecting things to the legacy of Chuck Berry.

Last Collector Standing: You've done a lot to help secure the legacy of Chuck Berry in St. Louis, most notably by providing a venue for him to play monthly. More recently, you were the mastermind behind the Chuck Berry statue, which was recently unveiled in the Delmar Loop. Having so many ties to Chuck Berry, what is your favorite Chuck Berry album or song?

Joe Edwards: It's hard to pick one favorite, because so much depends on my mood. I think that's true of music in general. If you're in a down mood, then "Wee Wee Hours" might be a good one. If you're in a real "up" mood, then it might be "Maybellene" or "School Days" or "Johnny B. Goode." It's really hard to pick.

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Don Perry and Bonnie Spinola on the Thrill of the Hunt

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Jon Scorfina

Often, the most sincere record collectors have no professional associations with the music industry. Their collections stem from nothing but a love of music. We met this week's Last Collector Standing through Anna Zachritz of Euclid Records, who suggested two of the store's most dedicated regulars.

Don Perry grew up in Southern California during the inception of punk before moving to St. Peters, Missouri, in the mid '80s. Bonnie Spinola grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and found her identity as a teenager by shopping at Shangri-La Records. Later in life, they met in St. Louis and became a couple, in large part because of their mutual love of records. We met with Perry and Spinola (an occasional RFT contributor) at their south-city home to discuss how they bonded over vinyl and the significance of Love's Forever Changes.

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Tom Huck On His Roots Phrenology Cover and Motorhead

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Photo by Jon Scorfina
Many artists have used the album cover as a vehicle for greater mass exposure. Robert Crumb transitioned from the obscurity of underground comics to mainstream consciousness with his cover of Big Brother and the Holding Company's Cheap Thrills. Derek Riggs made his mark on the world by creating Iron Maiden's legendary mascot, Eddie the Head. Even pop art provocateur Andy Warhol is arguably best known for his iconic album covers for The Velvet Underground and Nico and Sticky Fingers. Local artist Tom Huck has had some parallel success: In 2002 Huck designed the cover to The Roots Phrenology, bringing his unique woodcut engravings to its largest audience ever. We met Huck at Evil Print Studios where his staff was in the process of organizing his CD collection and getting ready for a woodcut workshop. There we discussed the story behind Phrenology, his original cover of Appetite For Destruction and everything Motorhead.

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DJ SuperConductor on Riot Grrl and the Contributions of Lady Gaga

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Photo by Jon Scorfina
Euclid Records employee Anna Zachritz, better known around town as DJ SuperConductor, has amassed hundreds of records in less than a decade. As a DJ, Zachritz is known for spinning underground hip-hop and electro, but at the heart of her collection is riot grrl - the '90s movement that encouraged girls to make their own place in male-dominated music scenes. We met at the Tower Grove apartment she shares with her girlfriend, Melanie, and discussed the lasting significance of riot grrl while her Boston Terrier, Gus, helped model her split 45 collection.


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Griffin Kay on Novelty Records and the Pay-What-You Want Model

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Jon Scorfina
Often times the biggest music collectors are musicians themselves. This is certainly true for So Many Dynamos guitarist and long-time record collector Griffin Kay. We recently met with Kay outside his Soulard apartment as he was carrying a new record player upstairs. His fiancé Nicki's cat had used their previous turntable as a cozy, rotating bed, leaving its turn-belt inoperable. After setting up the new record player and listening to side A of Jets To Brazil's Four Cornered Night, we discussed So Many Dynamos history of releasing vinyl and a rare record sold in a specialized pizza box.

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DJ Kase One on J Dilla and the Future of the Hip-Hop DJ

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Photo by Jon Scorfina

Despite vinyl's outdated technology, it is an essential aspect of hip-hop culture. Considering this, up-and-comer DJ Kase One (a.k.a. Aaron Hinton) chooses to spin only vinyl at his regular gig Diggin In The Crates at Delmar Lounge, every second Saturday of the month at midnight. We met at his home in St. Ann to learn how he discovered underground hip-hop through skateboard videos and to discuss his collection of J Dilla records.


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Mike Jones on I Hate Punk Rock Records and his 75 Against Me! Is Reinventing Axl Rose LPs

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photo courtesy of Mike Jones
As major record labels continue to consolidate their lineups, it might seem an unlikely time to start an independent record label. Yet, for Mike Jones, founder of I Hate Punk Rock Records, starting his label in the mid 2000s came as naturally as expanding his personal record collection. We meet with Jones to discuss the trials of owning a record label, the story behind the I Hate Punk Rock name and his 75 copies of Against Me! Is Reinventing Axl Rose.

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Billy Brown on Sonic Youth, Record Store Day, and Drunk Reggae Fans

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Photo by Jon Scorfina
In early January, Rolling Stone reported that vinyl sales had increased fourteen percent over the previous year with around 2.8 million units sold, making 2010 the best year for vinyl in recent memory. DJ Billy Brown is part of a new generation of music fans choosing records over CDs or MP3s. Brown's vinyl habit developed in earnest when he got a job at Slackers CD and Games three years ago (he also works in Production at the RFT). Last Collector Standing ran into the Brown in line at Vintage Vinyl on Record Store Day waiting to pick up some of the exclusive releases. A few days later we were at his South City home looking through his collection and discussing the resurgence of vinyl.

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