Crate Digging: New Orleans, LA

Visiting Domino Sound Record Shack, Jim Russell Rare Records and Euclid Records.


This was my second trip to New Orleans, a very unique city that birthed its own distinctive sounds of jazz, R&B, soul and funk. In 2008, I spent a year working for Tuff City Records, who specialized in reissuing and licensing New Orleans music, which only further invigorated my love for the its sound. Unfortunately, I never experienced the city in its pre-Katrina state, and my first trip was a only a couple months after the BP oil spill. During this trip I had planned to revisit a couple of my favorite record shops as well as check out one that I had previously missed.

Jim Russell Rare Records

Jim Russell Rare Records is a NOLA staple who have been dealing records since 1969. The business was later inherited by Denise Russell, Jim Russell’s daughter-in-law. They suffered severe roof damage from Katrina, although they fortunately did not receive heavy ground flooding. Over ensuing years they have seen a decrease in business while the shop’s infrastructure gradually deteriorated. The building no longer has running water and the moist air carries the strong musty odor of cigarettes and moldy records. Times are tough. Denise explained to me that cash sales help pay for my day to day expenses, such as food, while credit card sales pay the bills. To encourage cash sales she offers around a 25% discount. It appeared rather clear that their inventory lacks turnover. Walls of 45s have been heavily picked through over the years by collectors from all over the world, and one can not help but to imagine the establishment as a digger’s paradise during the ’80s and ’90s. These days, if you want to find something good, you will have to work hard for it. That means getting intimate with grungy confines of the shop, rummaging through boxes and randomly placed stacks while listening to as many records as quickly as possible.

I dug for about two hours which produced a handful of decent records. My favorite find was a nice psych double-sider, “Shadows” b/w “Feel The Music” by The Vejtables. I was also to happy to pick up near-mint ’70s issue of the frantic R&B screamer, “I’m Glad” by Lloyd Price on Specialty Records. All of my selections were priced between 1-3 dollars.

Domino Sound Record Shack

Domino, a well curated boutique, is easily my favorite record shop in New Orleans. On my last trip there I snagged a copy of Buari’s self-titled LP for a mere $30. They are about an hour walk from the French Quarter but it is worth the trek. Don’t worry, a couple road beers will help it go quickly.

Along the way I stopped by an unusual piece of NOLA music history, J&M Music Shop, which now stands as a laundromat at 840 N Rampart St. J&M was a recording studio that produced a wealth of hits during the ’50s by legendary artists that included Little Richard, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Lloyd Price, Jerry Lee Lewis, Guitar Slim, Clarence “Frogman” Henry and many others. There is little to see besides a ground plaque bearing J&M’s logo in its doorway and an array of framed photos in the back room that featured many of the most notable artists who recorded there. It’s impressive to think of how many raw R&B classic were cut within that tiny space. While Motown, Stax and Chess are household names, the hit factory of J&M lies in relative obscurity.

Upon arrival at Domino I went straight for their new arrival bins and found a couple compelling and well-priced titles, which included a solid Cuban funk LP by Grupo Monumental. Their 45 selection was okay, yielding a couple classic NOLA R&B tunes, but nothing extraordinary. In general, I found that it had been getting increasingly more difficult to find in-demand NOLA 45s within the city’s shops. If you are lucky enough to come across one, chances are it has been hammered. There is also the frequent sight of records that have fallen victim to Katrina with their distinctive water stained labels.

Euclid Records

Euclid is about a 30 minute walk west of the French Quarter. This was my first trip to Euclid and it was perhaps the last of the major NOLA shop that I had not visited. As the walk progressed, the neighborhood had become increasingly more industrial and the streets more quiet. A few block before I arrived at my destination, I happened upon the Dr. Bob Folk Art warehouse gallery, a huge indoor/outdoor space brimming with works of outsider art. I was immediately drawn to his bizarre large scale sculptures constructed from creepy mannequins, skeletons, old cars and hand painted signage.

Euclid Records also appeared to suffer from what appeared to be a rather stale inventory. Their 45 selection was quite overpriced and underwhelming. I worked rather hard to find a purchase to no avail. The highlight of my visit was a visitor who was playing some very rare and fantastic R&B 45s over the shop’s sound system. One of which was an original, albeit rather crackly, copy of Jackie Brenston’s “Rocket 88”, considered by many to be the first true rock-and-roll song ever recorded.

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