Situated at the halfway mark of Barnsley’s Victorian arcade (a haven for local independent shops of all shapes and flavours), Debut Records is the town’s one and only supplier of new releases, special editions and the sort of paraphernalia one expects from a respected independent. However, times aren’t exactly booming for it’s proprietor Stu Sheard. Despite the expected array of records, books and t-shirts, and the more bespoke candlelit acoustic nights and enviable in-store performances (the most recent featuring folk heavyweights Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman), Stu continues to struggles to keep the door open.
When Scott Doonican, frontman of festival stalwarts The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican heard that Stu didn’t have resources to fully support this year’s national Record Store Day (Saturday April 18th), he hit upon the idea of tapping into the enviable reservoir of musical talent Barnsley contains. In a display of D.I.Y. gusto for which the town deserves much more acclaim than it currently boasts, any Barnsley band and songwriter worth their salt has donated an exclusive track to be released on a compilation album put together by Scott, the proceeds of which going toward giving Stu a helping hand to make the best of Record Store Day and promote the store in general. Beautiful.
I spoke to Stu about the project, this year’s Record Store Day and how the current times treat the local independent record store.
Explain what Record Store Day is and what it means to small businesses.
It’s effectively a one-day celebration of record shops throughout the UK. A lot of labels release exclusive vinyl on that day; there are roughly 600 releases this year. It’s really good for us independents, it’s just a pity that it IS just one day of the year!
Do you think it’s indicative of the current climate that we NEED a Record Store Day?
I think so, yeah… It’s about telling people who we are, what we do and that we ARE here every day of the year! It’s about rediscovering music and vinyl. There’s something about a record shop, something nostalgic, and I think every town and city should have one. Everyone’s got a story about buying their first album, and it usually involves an independent.
How did the collaboration with Scott Doonican transpire?
I posted on Facebook that, given how quiet things have been this year, I won’t be able to buy in the special editions. Scott picked up on this and set off on a tirade! He offered to release a compilation of exclusive tracks from local artists, the proceeds going back into the shop to fund Record Store Day.
Will it be on sale in the shop?
Yeah, it’ll be in the shop on the day and I think there’s a downloadable version. It sounds like there are two album’s worth of music, support has been that good.
Is that indicative of the local music scene? Do you think there’s a healthy mutual support between the bands, promoters, venues, etc.?
Oh yeah, definitely! The response on Facebook has been brilliant. Barnsley has a really good local scene.
Aside from the local release, are there any other events planned for the day?
Yeah, there’ll be some live music, there’ll be plenty of discount on the day and I promise there’ll be some of those exclusive Record Store Day editions…
The album in question features some genuinely outstanding music and will be limited to 100 (50 each of the two albums) individually hand-stamped CDs at £10, with each sale including a download code for the other album. It’s available from the shop itself (Debut Records, 9 The Arcade, Barnsley, S70 2QP), or from www.debutrecords.bandcamp.com