Joe's Albums

Joe’s Albums helps lead resurgence of vinyl & retail on Main Street

Joe Demers, owner of Joe’s Albums at 317 Main St., has chosen to follow the adage generally attributed to Confucius: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

With apologies to Mr. Hendrix, if you want to be “Experienced,” head to the former WRTA headquarters near Mechanics Hall and enter the room of vinyl. Strike up a conversation with Joe and you, too, shall be immersed in the art of sound, texture and warmth, found in those long-lost scratchy treasures, now reborn as newfound friends.

Demers has been a big music fan since he received his first all-in-one “stereo” when he was 6 years old.

“For people who truly want to listen, vinyl is a high quality sound. I believe that people who listen to records are ‘active’ listeners, because you have to physically take it out, manually place it on the turntable, then take it off, too. You are much more attached to it. … It’s a tangible experience and I think that plays a big part.”

But kids grow up to be teens, life gets in the way and the “stereo” is shuttered away to a dark corner of the house.

“For about 20 years, I never listened to my records, which were stored in the basement. By that time, I was listening to music on CDs, iPods and MP3 players,” he said.

About eight years ago during the winter, he decided to revisit his dusty childhood friend and the amazingly still-preserved albums.

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Charlie Baker

On Beacon Hill: Free, but not welcome, speech

Baker selfie

State House News Service/Sam Doran

Gov. Charlie Baker takes a selfie with Pete Frates after signing the “Ice Bucket Challenge Week” law.

 


Recap and analysis of the week in local, state and federal government from State House News Service and Sun research.

It would be virtually impossible to so quickly forget the racial violence that erupted in Charlottesville last weekend, but political leaders at all levels of government this week were preoccupied with making sure they would not be condemned to a repeat of it.

Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, in particular, were joined at the hip for much of the week as they united in press conferences, op/eds and safety meetings to condemn white nationalists and neo-Nazis and make it clear how they felt about a “Free Speech” rally planned for yesterday by conservative groups for Boston Common.

Baker and the Legislature also partnered Thursday to pass a resolution and sign a  proclamation denouncing white supremacy that they planned to send to the White House, the Virginia governor and the mayor of Charlottesville.

Coming on the heels of the Charlottesville protests, organizers of the Boston rally said they don’t support white nationalism, but a controversial list of speakers and the potential to draw unsavory elements had police and public officials on edge heading into yesterday.

The fears were not realized as counter-protestors vastly outnumbered those attending the rally. Boston Police reported 33 arrests, according to reports.

“99.9 percent of the people here were here for the right reason, and that is to fight bigotry and hate,” Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said.

The First Amendment being what it is, the city issued a permit for the event that drew thousands of counter-protesters. Officials hoped for the best while planning for the worst.

Charlie Baker

State House News Service/Sam Doran

Gov. Charlie Baker said that “there is no place here for that type of hatred — period — that we saw in Virginia.”

“As governor of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, I want to be clear that there is no place here for that type of hatred — period — that we saw in Virginia,” Baker said in one of several statements he made over the course of the week.

The governor’s rhetoric seemed to escalate in intensity as the days wore on and a furor grew over President Trump’s response to the violence. Eyes in Massachusetts turned to him for moral leadership, or at least an indication of where he fell on the spectrum.

Trump, of course, condemned the violence, but with great emphasis took the position that “both sides” were to blame for the confrontation that led to the death of Heather Heyer in Virginia.

In comments made during a combative press conference criticized for giving comfort to racism, Trump chose to also blame the “alt-left” that showed up to protest the gathering of white supremacists who marched, ostensibly, in protest of the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

Baker’s condemnation of Trump’s response went from deep disappointment to something more, and earned him a shout out from the head of the Democratic Governor’s Association — Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy — who challenged the GOP in his own state to follow Baker’s lead.

“His offensive rhetoric and failure to condemn white supremacy in Charlottesville highlights a failure of the Trump administration to properly address issues that matter to people of color and promote unity and tolerance across our nation,” Baker would say.

The challenge of confronting this country’s racial history is not relegated to places like Charlottesville or communities in the South, either.

While grounds of public parks like those at the State House may be dotted with statues of J.F.K. and Horace Mann instead of General Lee, the city of Boston has its own ugly history of racism to contend with and that also came to the fore this week.

Red Sox owner John Henry said the team was ready to make a push to rename Yawkey Way, and House Majority Whip Byron Rushing has filed legislation to take the Yawkey name off the commuter rail station in the Fens.

Tom Yawkey, of course, was the longtime owner of the Boston Red Sox. He was a philanthropist and is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was also, according to many reports, racist toward black ballplayers and a major reason why the hometown nine were the last team in Major League League Baseball to integrate in 1959.

Walsh made some vaguely supportive comments of Henry’s call for renaming the street that runs alongside Fenway Park, but on Friday he brushed aside questions on the topic suggesting it should be left for another day to discuss.

–Matt Murphy

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Joe's Albums

Worcester Sun, Aug. 20: Mariano on Trump, Joe’s Albums, Little Free Libraries, dark tourism + more

Sun columnist

Mariano: We have no choice: Trump must go! | “Donald Trump has lost the moral authority to lead our nation. His words and actions have weakened our country, given safe haven to hate and bigotry and diminished our nation in the eyes of the world.”

More Ray on Trump:

Donald Trump is breaking my heart — the five stages of Trump
What happens if Trump gets impeached
Rating Trump’s staff and cabinet selections

Local Business Spotlight

Joe’s Albums helps lead resurgence of vinyl & retail on Main Street | “Between size and proximity, I wanted to get more ‘central’ and larger. I had looked in the Canal District … then looked down here and saw all of the development going on and thought that was very intriguing. … I think Worcester is truly coming back this time.” Art Simas reports on the place where vinyl records and retail are making a comeback.

Charlie Baker

In wake of Virginia violence, officials leery of Saturday “free speech” rally [with video]

Charlie Baker

State House News Service/Sam Doran

Gov. Charlie Baker said that “there is no place here for that type of hatred — period — that we saw in Virginia.”

State and city officials denounced the racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend and pledged to keep Boston safe during a planned rally this Saturday, while acknowledging they know very little about the event or its organizers.

With an event billed as a “free speech rally” planned for Boston Common on Saturday, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh on Monday said he discourages the organizers from coming to the city while the “emotion and the wound and the pain are very fresh” after three people died in Charlottesville.

“Don’t hand hatred a megaphone and pretend you can’t hear it,” Walsh said at a press conference on City Hall plaza surrounded by a diverse group of civic leaders. “Leaders call out hate and reject it before it becomes violence. That’s why we’re here today. That’s why this weekend myself and the governor spent nearly about 10 or 15 different phone calls talking about how do we reject hate in the commonwealth and the city of Boston.”

Bill would allow police to issue tickets for misdemeanors

A police officer would be able to issue a ticket instead of criminal charges for offenses like disorderly conduct, public drinking and littering under a bill endorsed last month by a legislative committee.

According to the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Michael O. Moore, D-Millbury, state law already allows for the decriminalization of such offenses but only once a defendant appears in court. Moore’s bill would give police the option to issue a civil citation on eligible charges, allowing the offender to avoid court entirely by paying their fine.

Moore said the bill (S 1146) would let someone who committed a minor offense avoid the long-term consequences of having a criminal record, while also cutting court costs and providing flexibility for police departments with tight finances.

Charlie Baker

Worcester Sun, Aug. 16: Officials plan for Saturday ‘free speech’ rally, when will see say, ‘enough’? + Hitch, most popular & more

In wake of Virginia violence, officials leery of Saturday “free speech” rally [with video] | With an event billed as a “free speech” rally planned for Boston Common on Saturday, state and Boston officials discussed safety and logistical concerns. Meanwhile, the group organizing the rally, Boston Free Speech, wrote, “While we maintain that every individual is entitled to their freedom of speech and defend that basic human right, we will not be offering our platform to racism or bigotry. We denounce the politics of supremacy and violence.”

Editorial: When will we say, ‘Enough!’ ? | Displays of brash, extreme hate and violence are the opposite of the America the vast majority of us believe in. But instances have been on the uptick.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 188]: Beetles, barely — and other rare Worcester species

News came earlier this month that the once pervasive Asian longhorned beetle has all but disappeared from the Burncoat-area neighborhoods they once ravaged.

Some 35,000 trees in North Worcester, Boylston and West Boylston fell victim before years of vigilance quelled the scourge. That persistence is certainly missing in other corners of the city.

For Hitch, there is, indeed, a certain political animal that could use a wake-up call.

Teaching art: An artist’s ritual

“Collage Variations,” an ArtsWorcester exhibit currently on display at the Hadley features the work of artist and art educator Lizzie Fortin, who spoke with us about her exhibit and overall artistic practice.

Lizzie Fortin’s dynamic and bold 8-by-8-inch mixed-media collages are all unique and eye-catching. A variety of bold shades, textures and images play against carefully selected and layered text that may come from various ephemera glued to the surface.

Her pieces evoke an intense sense of curiosity, with the desire to keep investigating closer to see if one can draw conclusions from the energetic and fractured contexts.

Fortin’s artwork is featured in the three-person exhibit “Collage Variations.” Ten of her incredible mixed-media collages are on display in the Hadley Building at 657 Main St., in a show with two other artists, Susan Black and Leonard Gerwick, exhibited by ArtsWorcester.