Making it in brick and mortar retail these days is a tough go for the most part but for Brad Germain, opening up his own record store was what he had to do. The long time local musician had been working in music retail all the while taking time off to tour with the Marble Index or make records with the Dinner Belles, Spruce Invaders or more recently with Coszmos Quartette.
A year so ago, Germain decided that the Locke Street area seemed like a cultural hub that could use a record store and Into the Abyss was born at 119 Locke Street South. While we’re not writing of an anniversary celebration or an announcement of the new addition to the family with wife Jenni Germain, this weekend we talk about a community that comes together to help out one of their own.
“Locke Street is like a warzone right now with the construction they have going on and this is literally a mom and pop location with Brad and his wife Jenni just had their first baby two weeks ago as well,” offers Mark Furukawa, owner and operator of Dr. Disc at 20 Wilson Street on the summer construction that has disrupted most activity on Locke Street.
As well as leading a retail operation that has survived the changing tides of the music over three decades, Furukawa has always worked with the community to promote the music scene overall — even recently becoming the city’s Hamilton Music Advisory Team Chair. But while some would think a competing business might focus on their own sales and promotion, Furukawa believes the community at large needs support from everyone.
“More record stores means more culture and seeing what’s happening on Locke Street is not good for business,” says Furukawa. “Not only do Brad and Jenni have to deal with the fact that their walk–by traffic is virtually eliminated — with construction forecasted to go until the end of November — but also they have a new mouth to feed. It’s hard enough for independent retailer to make a go of it these days so my heart really went out to him. I wished someone would get up and do something to help and then I thought, ‘why not me?’
“A lot of musicians band together for causes, restaurants have done it as well — why not record stores?,” adds Furukawa. “While you might consider us competitive, there is a big musical pie in Hamilton and there’s a piece for everyone. I’ve known Scott Bell of Revolution Records (166 Ottawa St. N.) and he’s a good friend that I’ve known for twenty years so when I reached out to him, I think he felt the same way and was in for whatever ideas.”
Furukawa and Bell would bring in Brodie Schwendiman (The Casbah), and Sean Palmerston (Hellbound.ca) and create an event to help out not only the Germains but also to celebrate indie record stores and our vibrant music community here in Hamilton.
“We’re going to have this crazy benefit with bands mostly hand picked by Brad and the two mystery bands are bound by legalities that we can’t announce them, so they’re not small bands,” says Furukawa. “They’re big Hamilton heavy hitters and to see them at a small venue like the Casbah with three other great bands is going to blow people’s minds. We thought we could have a little record fair as well with six or seven vendors selling music. So you’ve got a solid night of music, a record fair — Donut Monster is baking up 200 special donuts for the event and the sale of which will go to Into the Abyss — Tom Wilson might be offering a painting to raffle off — a portion of the record fair, bar sales and more — proceeds are all going to Into the Abyss.”
A Go Fund Me page has been set up for those that want to donate to the cause and perhaps can’t attend the event but Furukawa assures no Hamilton indie music fan should miss this event. Furukawa assures that the Out of the Abyss fundraiser is set to be musically exciting and community building.
“My end result was to pay Brad’s rent for the next six months while he’s raising his child,” says Furukawa. “Any money raised will be a real help to Brad and his family and his business. Hamilton, unlike any other city I’ve known, the quality and the strength of the community — I’m blessed to be making a living in the music community here. Hamilton people are so supportive and everyday something happens to reaffirm that belief.
“I called Brad before we started this and I explained the idea to him but the last thing you want to do is something that’ll make you look bad but this is life and everybody needs a helping hand sometimes,” adds Furukawa. “This is Brad’s turn and that’s the rationalle behind this and everyone is doing it out of the goodness in the heart to help out. It’s the music community supporting one of our own.”
The ‘Out of the Abyss’ Fundraiser for Into the Abyss happens this Satuday June 8 at the Casbah with The Crowleys, The Dill (Dylan Hudecki), Bad Crush and two mystery guests. Doors open at 8pm. Tickets are available in advance for $25 at The Casbah, Dr. Disc, Revolution Records, and Into the Abyss (admission price at the door will be $30). Click on gofundme.com/into-the-abyss-record-store-benefit