Over the Counter

Staffed by DJs and rockers, indie record stores are selling a scene

If the Fetus and Let It Be are big boys making big waves, then neighborhood shops, like underground-rock landmark Garage D'Or and the all-vinyl DJ shop Bassment Music (both in the Lyn-Lake area), are just as vital. Likewise, smaller pop stands such as the Root Cellar, owned by Earl Root--host of KFAI's Saturday night headbanger's ball, The Root of All Evil--help bolster a genre whose popularity has sagged in the '90s. "With Earl, it's not just a record store anymore," says Jim Francis, who directs the cable-access video-jockey version of Root's radio show. "The Root Cellar's whole goal is to keep metal in the local scene."

The ultimate example of the record store as subcultural-last-stand may be hardcore oasis Extreme Noise, which remains largely volunteer-run after last year's move to a renovated, neatly painted space on Nicollet Avenue. With a staff collective of punk musicians and activists, Extreme includes a basement that's a natural for in-store concerts, and hosts shows almost as frequently as Let It Be, Garage D'Or, and the Fetus.

As the distinct roar of speed-metal wafts up from the basement during one "in-store," musician and volunteer Patti Rhodes says her favorite season at the store is the winter holidays, which bring open-minded parents in search of green hair dye for their kids. Like the DJs at Let It Be, Rhodes dreams of customers who come in search of new sounds. "I'll show them all my favorite records," she says. "They may just end up getting something mainstream like Rancid, but at least they'll know more when they come back."

Starting in September, Earl Root'sThe Root of All Evil TV airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on Channel 33 in Minneapolis and Thursdays at 11 p.m. on Channel 15 in St. Paul; call 644-2070. On Monday night, Let It Be's Pull helps presentMinimum, Electronic Music Fun for Adults, at the 7th Street Entry, next door to the Mainroom'sEvolution concert featuring a bevy of national DJs; call 338-8388.

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