Nashville, Tenn., is known as Music City, U.S.A., for many reasons. Most assume it's for the country music produced there, but the name originated when a visiting foreign dignitary heard the legendary Fisk Jubilee Singers, a gospel group. Still, Nashville lives and breathes music, whether it's of local rock superstars like Kings of Leon or rapper Young Buck. It should be no surprise that the city has many great used-record stores. Here's a record collector's guide to shopping in Nashville.
All old everything
The Great Escape is a local chain that specializes in pre-owned goods of all kinds. It's a dream for the obsessive collector of everything from ancient comics to Blu-ray discs, but the business made its reputation based on its collection of vinyl and CDs. The double whammy of economic hard times and digital music caused the chain to downsize, but it is still one of the best places in Nashville to hunt down oddities on vinyl.
McKay Used Books is a statewide chain of stores originating in Knoxville, Tenn. Like The Great Escape, McKay's is a one-stop shop for collectors. Although the focus is on books, you can find used video games, DVDs and vinyl here.
Must be the music
Phonoluxe Records, Music and Movies is a moderate-size store with a good selection of used records, CDs and DVDs, but the primary focus has been on vinyl. The store has a large collection of rarities from a wide variety of genres. Of all the used-record stores in Nashville, this is the stop for the amateur DJ.
Lawrence Record Shop is a voluminous store full of 45s and LPs. As you might expect, the majority of the selection is from the country music genre, but the store sells music of all stripes.
The White Stripes front man, Jack White, owns Third Man Records. It's the boutique of record stores with its black and gold paint and records covering the walls. The store sells only vinyl records released by White's Third Man Records label. White is revisiting the old Sun and Watts record labels' ideas of creating music, recording it, printing it and selling it from one location. What you can purchase here is rare but not old.
New Life Record Shop was the premier spot for buying urban music in Nashville, especially during the early days of the hip-hop era. Historically, its focus has been music performed by African-American artists, so the collection of vinyl skews towards that style of music. Hip-hop DJs are likely to find good cuts to sample, and rap music novices will learn about Nashville's rap scene during their visit.
Ernest Tubb's Record Shop is another callback to the early days of the modern recording industry, focusing on the legacy of country music legend Ernest Tubbs. The store is located in the touristy section of Nashville's lower Broadway area. You may be misled by the name, however, since this store sells mostly souvenirs and memorabilia of country music's past rather than vinyl records. If you're visiting the city and are interested in country music lore, the store is worth a stop; if you're hunting classic records, go elsewhere.
The hippest trip in Nashville
Grimey's New & Pre-Loved Music is the Nashville used-record store for the city's indie rock crowd. The store has turned itself into a venue to hear up-and-coming acts and is a social gathering place. Grimey's is owned, operated and populated by local music lovers and musicians. Locals hit up the shop to peruse the hand-picked selections of vinyl. It's a spot for keeping up with the hot Nashville music scene more than a shop that caters to crate diggers, although you can certainly uncover lost treasures during your visit.
The Groove is one of the newer used-record shops in the city, and it's growing fast in popularity. Many local DJs shop here, as well as collectors looking for rare items. The store is planning to add a stage and invite hip, local acts and touring bands.