Thomas Alva Edison was one of the most intelligent and inventive men to ever have been born and live in these United States. In particular, he is remembered for his work inventing machines to harness the power of electricity in ways never before conceived. Edison’s invention revolutionized the way Americans, and indeed people everywhere, experienced sound. No longer did one have to go to Africa to hear a lion roar, nor to an orchestra to hear the National Anthem. Soon, Edison’s work was transferred into other fields, providing the world with the diverse soundscape it has now!
Many still regard vinyl records, a decedent of the original sound discs Edison’s phonograph first used, as the richest, cleanest, and best sound ever produced. The culture and interest surrounding vinyl record in the last ten years, has actually caused a resurgence in the vinyl industry. Several bands, including pop artists, producing music today release their albums on vinyl, just as they would have in the form’s hay-day.
August 12th is Record Store Day! This nationally recognized event honors Edison’s creation of the phonograph on the same day in 1877. Record Store Day began in 2007 to celebrate and share the unique culture surrounding Independent Record stores! A lot of participating stores offer special promotions. According to the Record Store Day official website, “A participating store is defined as stand alone brick and mortar retailers whose main primary business focuses on a physical store location, whose product line consists of at least 50% music retail, whose company is not publicly traded and whose ownership is at least 70% located in the state of operation.” Not sure where a participating record store is near you? Check out their handy location finder! Even if you miss Record Store Day, you can still find unique music finds anytime of the year!
There are 8 participating record stores on the Kansas side of the Heritage Area and 7 on the Missouri side, including Vinyl Renaissance in downtown Overland Park, Love Garden Sounds in downtown Lawrence, Mills Record Company in Kansas City, MO and Barnyard Orbit in the historic West Bottoms. And many historic sites that owe a good portion of their heritage to Edison’s clever machine. So, find some areas in the heritage area to join in, or just to see what the fuss is all about!
The American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, MO features the talent and creativity of Kansas City’s musicians of the era of segregation. The greats, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and Ella Fitzgerald all played at 18th and Vine, and their legacy is still heard there today. In fact, the Jazz Museum’s Blue Room still features live performances in the atmosphere and spirit of the Age of Jazz on Sunday evenings. So if you want to hear music from the people who recorded their original music on vinyl, stop in and hear the beats!
Or, if KC is too swinging for you, head over to Shawnee Town 1929 in Shawnee, Kansas. They still have their records and the Victrola player people had in 1929, and you can dance with them to the sounds which America lived and loved during the Age of Vaudeville! Kansas art and culture burgeoned alongside these famous events, and you can learn more about how Kansas experienced the growing culture of vinyl and sound throughout the twentieth century.