We had the pleasure of working with the fine folks over at The Rib Whisperer to develop their new logo for all their BBQ sauces, rubs, and spices. It's really cool to see an idea go from a sketch to an actual label on a bottle of BBQ sauce. You may have seen Trace Arnold on the History Channel traveling the country with his big smoker. He is known for his big personality and his big cowboy hat. He also owns a local BBQ joint called 3 Stacks in Frisco, Texas. Here is what I came up with for their design:
The first time I
walked into Bill’s Records in 1993 looking for a U2 import, I was caught a bit
off guard. I had heard from friends and college buddies at the time that this
was the absolute place to go if you were an aficionado of any particular band
or type of music. If you were a music lover and you wanted it, but it was hard
or impossible to find, then Bill probably had it. The place was, needless to
say, not what I expected. Go with me on this. My memory is a little hazy…
In 1993, Bills
Record’s was a slightly rundown-looking store that had every type of band
poster and memorabilia you could imagine tacked on the walls. It was as if the
Hard Rock Café had exploded and been condemned. Band and/or artist merchandise
of every kind resided in cardboard boxes underneath the tables and on the floor
around the room. There were bins of vintage and brand new concert posters that
you could rummage through. A handful of employees (of all ages) wandered the
room, sometimes asking if you needed some help, but mostly just letting you
soak in a wealth of rock and roll imagery. I half expected there to be a tattoo
parlor in the back of the store. Even more oddly was the fact that hardly
anything had prices listed on it. If you wanted it, you had to ask one of the
employees or the man behind the counter.
The Man Behind The
He might as well
have been The Smoking Man, The Man in Black…you see where I’m going. Even then,
sitting on a stool, finishing off his countless smoke of the day, Bill Wiseman
already exuded that aging artist or hippie guru vibe you would expect from the
owner of a place like this.Of course
Bill doesn’t think of his self that way. In speaking with him, I found him to
be a humble and friendly man, who just happens to have phenomenal taste in
music and a kick-ass record store. Ben Harper is one of his favorites, along
with Joan Bias, and Bob Dylan. I got the impression though that Bill would be
familiar with almost any artist if you were to spout one off.
The place was, in
retrospect, absolutely perfect. Just perfect. It was a hallowed ground of
youthful memories and nostalgic ideals. I remember thinking, even then, that
this place was a genuine rarity. It was nothing less than a church for the
Beatles or Zeppelin fans; a time warp for the aging rockster or wandering
family man looking for a vinyl of The White Album.
So we fast-forward
a decade or so, and I walk into Bill’s Records…a little fatter, a little
more cynical, and with much more apprehensions about being that wandering family man in a hip record store. You know
what? Who cares? Not a damn thing has changed.
Bill had his
permanent place staked out behind the counter; still smoking; still cool.
Leonard Cohen on a barstool. Had the guy even aged in 12 years? I soaked in
every sight, sound, taste and smell of the place that I had remembered from the
90’s.Bill even called me on my own situation
after I mentioned coming in religiously back in the 90’s. “People used to be
fanatical about coming in every week…now they have kids and come in when they
can”, he said. But that’s the miracle of Bill’s Records. The thing is, you can bring your kids. It is as welcoming
and unassuming now as it was when I thought I was cool a decade ago.
It wasn’t a great
place because I was young. It was a great place because Bill and his employees
care about what they’re offering. Bill started out selling records at a flea
market when he was in his 20’s. Now he’s 61 and no less enthused about his
business than he was then. If anything, he’s more so. He loves music,
musicians, and the people (like me) who love them.You still won’t find prices on much of the merchandise.
You have to talk to the man. But that’s what’s so amazing. You pick your
pleasure, ask for (or receive, depending on your haggling skills) your price,
and walk out with what feels like a real treasure. Your choice will live in
your collection forever, because you discovered it. Tell me if you ever get
that at Best Buy.
It’s hard to
believe that an unassuming store located in a strip mall would evoke the same
kind of memories that you would get from going to a Paul McCartney or Eagles
concert. You can drop by every Friday and Saturday for live concerts on the
stage that the store houses. Come for the concert, stay for the memories. I
defy you to enter this unpolished, beautifully worn store and not walk out
Because it’s not where it’s located or what it looks like
that matters. It’s the fact that Bill’s store is a living reminder that some
things just don’t change. Why do they need to? The store proudly casts aside potential implications that
it might have been affected by the internet or “corporate consolidation.” Bill’s Records has often been referred to as “The Last Record Store”.
Mister, you said it. I love everything about the place.
Here’s to 22 more years…