What’s up, Des Moines! It’s Hannah Rodriguez, the Des Moines Register’s trade reporter. Dust off your records and come listen to vinyl with me.
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Here’s the deal: I grew up with mixtapes and CDs. Sure, Spotify and other music streaming platforms were already popular by the time I got to high school, but there was always something special and, dare I say, vintage about swapping CDs with friends. As a teenager, playlists organized on plastic discs were the soundtrack to my 2009 Honda Accord and I still have over a dozen CDs that I play when I want to feel nostalgic.
One summer, a friend ditched CDs and started his vinyl collection using a new Audio Technica record player – the true antiquity of music production enhanced with 21st century technology. We hosted listening parties and scoured dusty local record stores in hopes of finding a new release or a classic I recognized.
I was amazed at how different the music sounded on vinyl vs headphones vs my shitty sedan speakers (yes, a shocking revelation, I know).
The best day of the year quickly became Record Store Day (RSD) in April, when vinyl lovers descended on local record stores for sales and new releases. There were often food trucks, collectible stickers and posters, and most importantly, the sweetest conversations with people rallying around their love of music.
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As a proud new owner of a record player (although not as fancy as an Audio Technica), I’m so excited to find out how Des Moines is doing RSD on Saturday April 23rd.
Personally, I think everyone should have a copy of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”. My brother gave me a new copy and even though I didn’t really consider myself a fan, listening to the album on vinyl for the first time was a transcendent experience. There’s really nothing quite like hearing the needle crackle on the vinyl and the slow, steady first track, “Speak to Me,” coming through the speakers.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the annual event and Taylor Swift has been chosen as RSD’s first Global Ambassador. I’ve been a fan since I was a kid and can’t wait to see what she plans to release. Come join the trend that will never die; Vinyl sales have skyrocketed during the pandemic, keeping stores afloat and proving that sometimes the old way is best.
What should I listen to next? Send me your favorite albums to listen to on vinyl at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on Twitter @byherodriguez.
My Top Three Record Stores in Des Moines
1. Marv’s music: Next time you’re in the East Village, take a stroll down Marv’s Music (506 E. Sixth St.) for a welcoming layout and popular music of all genres. The modern space opened in 2018 with exposed brick and concrete floors. Be sure to check periodically; Marv’s holds events throughout the year and appears to be the destination for Record Store Day this year. It opens at 8am on Saturdays starting bright and early. We’ll see each other there!
2. Zzz records: Claiming to be Des Moines’ oldest and oldest independent record store, Zzz Records is a must stop in the capital. The story behind the record store takes a few twists and turns, but it opened in 2000 and is currently located at 2200 Ingersoll Ave. Each year the store hosts the Des Moines Music Collector Show in conjunction with Vinyl Cup Records, a store at 2815 Beaver Ave. ., Suite 210 which has two other locations in Omaha and Cedar Falls.
3. Rogue Planet Music: Two friends opened Rogue Planet Music in 2017, and it feels like a small business owner’s dream come true. The charming boutique is located at 4211 Chamberlain Ave. in the Roosevelt Mall, but if you don’t live nearby, don’t worry; Rogue Planet ships worldwide. The store awards some vinyl a tongue-in-cheek blue ribbon for preserved quality, so keep an eye out for collector finds.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for, be sure to also check out Red Rooster Records on Euclid Avenue! But let me know if I miss your favorite local store. Email me at email@example.com and I’ll go check it out.
Eat this, drink this
Crazy 7 inch meatball – $10: I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect slice since moving to Des Moines and this personal pie was a strong contender. The roasted peppers contrasted with the heaviness of the cheese and the crust was both crispy and chewy. I will be back to try and figure out what they put in these meatballs.
You understand:In case you missed it, Mad Meatball reopened in a new location (210 SW 11th St.) in January. Parking is tricky, but you should be able to find a spot in the back. Open at 11 a.m. on weekdays until 11 p.m. and again at 11 a.m. on Friday and Saturday until midnight, for you night owls.
Quadro Vodka Shot – $7 per shot: Russian vodka has been something of a novelty since Governor Kim Reynolds removed Russian-produced alcohol from the state liquor division’s wholesale purchase list. With over 100 bottles of vodka behind the bar, Irina’s in Urbandale probably has enough stock to last through the ban. Irina and her husband Dmitri immigrated from Russia in the 90s, so you know they have good. To start my evening, I tried a traditional Russian shot of Quadro vodka. Before taking the picture, you smell the rye bread. Then follow the smooth, chilled liquor with the salty pickle and finish with the bread. За здоровье! Cheers!
You understand: Irina’s is growing! Soon, Urbandale Restaurant will have a sister location in downtown West Glen at 650 S. Prairie View Drive in West Glen. Head to the original at 2301 Rocklyn Drive from 3 p.m. daily (for happy hour) until 9 p.m. weeknights and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
I’m from the Quad Cities and I take great pride in my pizza preferences. My go-to is topped with pepperoni, jalapeño and black olive, yum. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your joint of choice and I’ll give you my rating.
48 hours off
Friday night: Meet me at the 60th Annual Family Planning Book Sale at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The event is quite spectacular and, according to the organizers, more than 12,000 customers from 37 states and 139 cities in Iowa attend. With over 200,000 books on 800 tables, there’s a huge variety to browse. The sale actually starts Thursday with a $20 cover for those looking for collectibles, but admission is free on Friday and runs from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the 4-H building at 3000 E. Grand Ave. The sale ends Monday.
Saturday night: Don’t let the music die after celebrating Record Store Day! Head to Gross Domestic Product, a music festival with lineups from every band in Iowa. The action begins at 5 p.m. in Des Moines’ Western Gateway Park. With shows at The Cave, Teehee’s Comedy Club and Gas Lamp, there’s something for everyone. Buy tickets in advance for $18, and if available, they’re $20 at the door. Here is the schedule.
Sunday night: Go ahead and sip your Russian vodka, but be sure to show Ukraine some support. Camp at the Lauridsen Amphitheater at Water Works Park from noon to 9:30 p.m. for From Iowa With Love: Benefit Jam for Ukraine, a “first folk, rock and blues festival in Iowa to raise humanitarian aid for the people of Ukraine .” The event is free but a suggested donation of $10 will be collected at the door.
I’ve had a Des Moines dog park pass since I first moved to the city a year ago and Sheba’s favorite is the doggy-utopia at Ewing Park. With trees to sniff, prairie grasses to roam and 8.5 acres to spread out, this is our favorite. A year pass costs $20 and gets you in to all three city parks: Ewing at 4660 Indianola Ave., Riverwalk at 1111 Illinois St., and Reno Memorial at 3325 Hubbell Ave. Ewing is the largest of the three, but Reno has a paved walking path along the perimeter of the fence and Riverwalk is usually the busiest with lots of activity and friendly faces.
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Around the city
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my day job
As always, thanks for reading. Do you have an idea of what you would like to see in my next Off Hours newsletter? Email me at email@example.com and let me know!
In the meantime, keep up to date with Des Moines retail by following me on Twitter @byherodriguez. I recently teased a new restaurant that is coming to Ingersoll Avenue, and for the last newsletter I went bouldering with my friends and fellow entertainment staff. Check that here.
Check back next week to hear from our entertainment reporter Isaac Hamlet as he goes birdwatching.
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Interested in being a guest writer for Off Hours? Send our editor Susan Stapleton a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with some of your favorite things to do in Des Moines. Yes, we pay.