When customers walk into Adams Morgan record shop Crooked Beat, says owner Bill Daly, they come looking for local music.
“We sell a lot of local bands,” Daly says. Out-of-towners tend to ask for them. They make the usual requests for Dischord releases and classic go-go, of course, but they want the newer stuff, too—and as far as Daly is concerned, younger groups aren’t meeting demand.
“Newer bands seem less exposed,” he says. They’re on Bandcamp, Facebook and Tumblr, but they’re not in stores. “They’re missing a whole audience who just want to buy vinyl.” That audience is growing, as sales have shown, and Daly thinks more local bands need to take advantage.
So Daly is going to stop just selling records, and start making a few of his own. He’s starting a new record label, Crooked Beat Records, and he’ll release its first 7-inches for Record Store Day on April 19. Both releases will be from bands with D.C. ties: Local band Möbius Strip and Daly’s own Insurgence DC.
It won’t be Daly’s first time running a label. He had one years ago—Crisis Discs—but he put it on hiatus when he went into the record-store business. In the ’90s, Crisis Discs put out 11 titles, mostly punk bands from Georgia and Crooked Beat’s home state of North Carolina. In the early ’90s, Daly released one compilation, “Starter,” that did well at the time. It included some tunes from The Violets and Mercyland. “Starter” was Daly’s best seller, and he says he still sells copies to this day.
After Record Store Day, Daly will start work on what’s basically the D.C. version of “Starter.” The store owner wants to release a double LP sampler of new and recent D.C. music. He’ll formally announce the compilation in June, and ask bands to submit their music for consideration. “It will give bands five to six months to get their acts together and record some songs,” he says. He’s aiming to get nine or 10 bands on the comp. He’s not sure if it’ll be rock- and punk-only, or a broader mix; it depends on the submissions, and what he thinks Crooked Beat can sell.
Beyond that, Daly wants to get into reissues. He’d like to talk to some record labels who own the rights to old music and see what they’re willing to share. He wanted to reissue old material from D.C. stalwarts Trouble Funk and the deceased Chuck Brown, but he says he talked to the involved parties, and they weren’t interested.
That’s too bad. But still, younger bands might be thrilled to hear that there’s a new label in town sniffing out their music. Daly, too, sounds energized by the new project.
“I’ve been talking about it for the last seven years to my wife,” he says. Finally, last summer, he said, “I’m gonna do this now.”
Due to a reporting error, this blog post originally said that Crisis Discs’ “Starter” compilation included a song by Bob Mould’s Sugar. It did not. The compilation featured a song from Mercyland, who shared a member (Dave Barbe) with Sugar. The post has been fixed.