“Nowadays, most people, if they’ve even heard the word at all, consider the “record” to be relegated to the dusty bookshelf of history, collecting cobwebs alongside eight-tracks and BetaMax. But you will be quite surprised to learn that the record is alive and well! Admittedly, digital music is still the Goliath to the record’s David, but the vinyl record and its revered place in the music industry is one that deserves our attention. As proud Nashvillians, it will behoove you to know that our fair city is playing a major role in the business of making music…the old fashioned way.
The manufacturing of a vinyl record is nothing short of remarkable. Nashville has been the home of one of the largest vinyl record manufacturers for lo, these many decades. A proud resident of Nashville’s trendy-yet-still-gritty Chestnut Hill neighborhood, United Record Pressing has been making records since 1949. Originally named Southern Plastics, United Record Pressing is still humming away today. United’s Director of Marketing Jack Millar relates, United manufactures approximately “30-40,000 records a day, typically…For quite a while, we’ve been running 24 hours a day, six days a week.” Do the math, people! This record business isn’t a simple cottage industry, catering to a few nostalgic folks. United is churning out the music for all to enjoy. Hundreds upon thousands of records are boxed, packed and shipped via tractor-trailer to places near and far. Simply put, business is booming!
One of the places lucky enough to be a recipient of those records pressed right here at home is none other than local music haunt, Grimey’s. An “independent, full-service record store,” Grimey’s New & Preloved Music has been offering new and used vinyl records for sale since 1999, and co-owner Doyle Davis says that business has never been better. Grimey’s recently expanded at their 8th Ave location, adroitly naming the new digs “Grimey’s Too.” It now houses all the used CDs and vinyl records, along with two other beloved and tangible items – books and coffee. As Davis recounts, Grimey’s first opened with the goal to become “the real record store that Nashville didn’t have.” Well, they’ve succeeded. Grimey’s is now known world-wide as an authority on selling vinyl records. As Davis himself says in proud disbelief, “People know about us everywhere! Jason Isbell ‘instragrammed’ a picture in La Guardia of a Grimey’s sticker on a pipe in the airport, and it’s really weathered. It’s been there for years!…I’ve seen Grimey’s t-shirts on bands playing on Jimmy Kimmel Show and the Jimmy Fallon Show!” Indeed, Grimey’s has been getting – pardon the pun – impressive press these days. You may have even seen them featured, along with United, in a story on NBC Nightly News this past March. But despite fame and celebrity, Grimey’s is still in touch with its roots as, quite simply, a local record store. “If you’re looking for music, you should call the record store first! We know what we’re doing,” states Doyle matter-of-factly. “This is important to us. This is all we do. I am selling music. This is my only product. We’re not going to run out!”
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While United is breaking ground with its cutting-edge manufacturing innovations, it also has a remarkable foothold in our history – both musically and culturally. It is undeniable that United has seen some impressive legends in its day. “The first Beatles record in America was pressed in this building,” confirms Millar. If that’s not impressive enough, hold on to your hat. “We know there’s been a signing party for a 16-year-old Hank Williams, Jr. There have been parties for the Cowsills, Smokey Robinson, the Supremes, and Wayne Newton also at 16 years of age.”
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