“[A] record shop is where music culture happens. The physical connection, talking about music, digging through stacks of old LPs. That’s the heart of music,” said Charles G. The music industry has experienced many changing trends over the past several years. In the 1980’s CDs became popular, replacing vinyl records. Then digital media entered the marketplace. However, during the past 15 years, vinyl records have become increasingly mainstream again. New record stores across the country are popping up to sell used and new vinyls. Locally, Up the Creek Records opened in Walnut Creek about two and a half years ago, offering new and used records, skateboards, weekly musical performances, and local art. The store is located at 1840 Tice Valley Boulevard. On a recent Saturday afternoon, I was impressed to see the store packed with customers of all ages and lifestyles perusing and purchasing vinyls.
Ten years ago, owner and Tice Valley resident, Nic Taylor began collecting vinyl records and eventually “grew tired of driving through the tunnel to Oakland or Berkeley to go record shopping” so he “decided to open Up the Creek Records.” Taylor describes himself as a “massive music fan.” His interest in vinyls reflects a resurgence of an aspect of the music industry that had been replaced by CDs and, more recently, streaming services. He offers new and used records with an extensive and diverse selection of artists, ranging from Van Morrision of the 60s to current musicians such as Harry Styles.
In addition to record sales, Taylor generously offers locals the opportunity to enjoy musical performances which are family friendly at no charge on Saturday evenings. His goal with these events is to “add to the culture of Walnut Creek and give [local] artists a place to share their music, and give people of all ages another option for something to do on a Saturday evening in The Creek.” I was also intrigued by the assortment of skateboards for sale in the shop and Taylor elaborated that “skating and music have always gone hand-in-hand for me…[and], so it is a great fit. Just like with the records, I wanted to make everyone feel welcome, so our skate selection is geared towards girls, beginners, LGBTQ skaters and creak-kneed old skaters like myself who might be getting back into it.”
In my conversation with Karley A, a local high school student shopping at the store, she explains her interest in records, “I like vinyls because the music sounds better than on Spotify or Apple Music. It’s also nice to be able to listen to all the songs on an entire album as they play on the turntable.” I also spoke with customer Charles G., a former record store manager, after he purchased a few vinyls. He believes that “[A] record shop is where music culture happens. The physical connection, talking about music, digging through stacks of old LPs. That’s the heart of music.”