BEST MUSIC STORE - 2008
We've all heard the stories: In the out-with-the-old orgy of the 1970s, the Twin Cities lost many of what should have been their most prized historical landmarks. In their place rose boxy, drab architecture that neither sought nor achieved anything more than to entomb the 9-to-5ers inside. Hell, reverence for the historical is hardly the defining American trait even today. But at least we save the buildings. It is an endlessly titillating mind game to imagine what Minneapolis would look like if its champion (and little-known) music archivist, Scott Holthus, had been put in charge of a downtown planning commission. If his Vintage Music is any clue, it would have been an old city, beautifully preserved. In a world where the old 78-rpm records and the Victrolas America played them on are dumped into trash piles or chaotic thrift-store heaps, Holthus has created a store that is also a museum. You can buy 78s here, in their original sleeves. And they are organized as carefully as if they were the hot new indie releases stocked by better-known indie record stores like Treehouse or Extreme Noise. More remarkable still is the encyclopedia of American music crammed between Holthus's meticulously trained ears. There is a worn red velvet couch in a corner. Usually there's a cat sleeping there. On a coffee table is a tank of a gray Califone record player made for 78-rpm records. A pair of Telex headphones, the kind you would have used in a high school language lab in the '70s, rests on the Califone's platter. Next to the headphones: an ashtray with butts piled high and spilling over. This is a private place. The refurbished Victrolas that parade through the store encircle the listening couch, and once you're in it, it's just you, the cat, and a stack of records—Jelly Roll Morton, "Ivory" Joe Hunter, Danny Barker—that you may well never see again. Need a more practical pitch? Holthus fixes the old Victrolas and just about any platter-player you place on his counter.