Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Rock needs a new place

| May 21, 2023 12:00 AM

When I moved to town, I found my way to Old School Records.

Sure the place was a little dusty, and the alphabetizing made no sense, but it made the hunt all that more potentially rewarding. Who knew so many records from France would end up in the Flathead?

From my preteen days, when my dad promised my brother and me a record a month, I’ve been a vinyl fan. At first the records I nudged onto the counter at the store in Helena were vanilla fare such as Shaun Cassidy and the “Star Wars” soundtrack. Then the hair got bigger, the guitars got louder: Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Judas Priest.

A record by this last band my dad picked up and started reading out the song titles. “‘Killing Machine,’ ‘Evil Fantasies’?” he intoned, barely hiding his “Kids these days” bafflement. Rob Halford in leather also may have made an impression.

The free records seemed to cease shortly after that, but no matter. Now I had money to burn from babysitting and working as a janitor. Of course, you didn’t have to spend money to be a music fan. You just had to go hang out at the record store.

I love the Zen of record browsing, the bins full of promise, and the catchall section that just might yield a copy of rare MPB.

As good as it was upstairs at Old School Records, where owner Connor Crevier kept a laconic presence and a loose watch over the proceedings, downstairs proved better.

This was where the all-ages gigs played out, where the kids (and elders such as myself) bounced to friends’ and new bands as the punks and doom rockers rolled up to sharpen their sets.

At one of the first shows I attended, I asked a fellow standing by where to find a beer. He returned moments later with a cold one.

I asked where he was from.

“Chinook,” he said.

“Cool,” I said.

“Not really.” We drank to it.

Later I saw him playing in the Bozeman punk powerhouse Goners UK.

Goners UK was one of the bands playing the final show at Old School Records’ space on First Street West in Kalispell on April 29. The basement was so crowded I couldn’t see the band, but the music pulsed through the building.

Upstairs, I ran into Dalton Damm, a semiregular performer at Colton Christensen’s open mics at Bias Brewing, who said he was selling more meditations these days than making music. He introduced me to David Crismore, whose new supergroup Borderline Lucid aced this year’s Flathead’s Got Talent.

Crismore and I went elbow to elbow in the bins. He was looking for a specific comedy album, and me the same old metal.

Weeks earlier when I stopped by, Crevier had said, ”The building sold faster than expected.” He glumly surveyed the bins of vinyl, audio equipment and pinball machines. He thought he had a new space lined up.

The night of the last show, though, he said the new space was not assured.

I stopped by the shop last week and saw it mostly cleared except for a few pinball machines and a skateboard. Where the kids gonna go now? I wondered. Where will we get our vinyl fix and basement shows? Please, let rock find its new place.

Margaret E. Davis, executive director of the Northwest Montana History Museum, can be reached at