Record stores across the country celebrated Record Store Day on April 13. The national holiday first created in 2007, functions to celebrate independent record stores and unites fans, artists and record stores.
Vortex Music & Movies in Kirkland is the city’s only independent record store and one of the few across the Eastside.
Vortex owner and operator Daren Compton has been celebrating Record Store Day since he opened shop in 2012.
Aside from owning and running Vortex, Compton allows local artists to use his store for performances.
Mei’lani Eyre, a student at Cascadia College in Bothell, has been booking bands to play for free at Vortex for about the last six months.
Eyre has loved music for years, especially local music. She is a singer-songwriter and taught herself guitar and bass. She formed her band, Smuggling Croissants, in 2016 and Vortex was one of their first gigs.
She said booking bands came easily to her. Between friends and people she met through school, grocery stores and even her local library, she came to know many local talents.
“A lot of the people here tonight are my friends,” she said. “One of the guys from Clandestine Beam is my favorite cashier at Safeway. I remember when we met and we talked about music and he told me he was in a band. I told him, ‘Hey why don’t you play at Vortex?’ and here they are.”
Eyre said there aren’t many venues for local talent on the Eastside. Aside from the Old Redmond Firehouse Teen Center and the YMCA Kirkland Teen Union Building (K-TUB), Vortex is one of the only other options.
“It’s always a challenge to find venues on the Eastside,” she said. “A lot of these people do house shows but even those are becoming harder and harder to come by. Vortex is just a great place to do whatever music you want.”
For Record Store Day, Eyre booked almost a dozen local artists to perform, including Clandestine Beam, Alien Days, Ron Hexagon, Ouija Boob, Esha K., Trees and Flowers, Mister Blank, Floral Tattoo, Alex Palmer, Elliot Austin and Dusty Cubby.
Brandon Yancey, who performs as Ron Hexagon, is an artist from Bellevue. For Record Store Day, he decided to pay tribute to one of his favorite bands, The Rapture. He printed out lyric sheets for the audience and encouraged them to sing, play air guitar, air cowbell and air drums as he danced and lip synced to the music.
“While I usually write songs about love and pizza, I wanted to pay tribute to the bands that inspire me and my music today,” Yancey said. “I wanted to do something fun…it’s so great that we have Vortex and such a supportive community for local bands.”
Rachel McDonald and Jessica Rawlings make up Ouija Boob. Both are librarians, McDonald for the King County Library System in Tukwila, Rawlings for the University of Washington.
“They’re my favorite librarians,” Eyre said. “When I found out they made music I asked them to play here.”
Aside from Record Store Day, Compton holds live music one Saturday night a month. For him, he said he’s happy to have a place for local talent to perform.
“It’s really great…it makes people happy,” he said. “These guys have a place to come and play. So many of them have their very first shows here and it feels great to be a part of that.”
For more information about Vortex, visit vortexmusicmovies.com.