Mar 20, 2011 Guest Columns
Nick From Brooklyn is back with another Tale From the Hunt. I’ll call this one “A Spree Grows in Brooklyn.”
I would like to thank Al for giving me the chance to re live some of my experiences with records. And to all of you collectors for your nice comments. I used to have a loose-leaf book that I used for my notes on tracking records. Everything was in order from A to Z. I was going through one of my music books. I used to have a lot of Billboard International Buyers Guides, which listed record companies, music publishers, arrangers, etc. I also had Local 802 musician books; also I had BMI, ASCAP, SESAC Books, and a lot of other literature on music. I was trying to see if I could get a lead on a particular record label called Celeste Records, which put out some dynamite group records in the mid-1950’s, one in particular The Mellows. From all of the notes I kept on Celeste, I was able to track the owner to an address on Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn’s Bedford/Stuyvesant neighborhood so off I went looking. At this time the records on this label were bringing big bucks. I got to the address. The building was
burned and so was most of the block… and the surrounding blocks. That ended my search for the day for Celeste… But it did not end my need for a fix! I started walking down Myrtle Avenue, a few junk stores here and there, but no records. After a few blocks I turned around and went down Myrtle Avenue the other way, when I got to Classon Avenue I made a left remembering I had gone to a moving and storage company there years before. After a few blocks I saw the building, but the store that was in the front that sold used items was closed. (Moving & Storage Companies are a great source of finding records, more on this another time). Across the street was a one-story building, a garage for a truck and there was a sign and it said RECORDS. I crossed over. There was an elderly black man sitting on a sofa and I asked him where are the records and he tells me in the back.
I proceed to the back and there is nothing but a brick wall, and I don’t see no records. I go back out and tell him I don’t see no records, and he tells me, well they are there. I go back again and I look all over and I still don’t see no records. I am getting uptight now and go back out, he hears me and tells me you found them alright, I tell him no, he pulls off his sunglasses and tells me Boy are you blind like me. I tell him no sir, well come with me. As we are walking I feel like an idiot. As we get to the back there is a drape the pattern that looks just like the bricks and as he pulls it aside, lo and behold, there are three boxes of records. On his way back to the front he is mumbling, more than likely calling me all sorts of names. I open the boxes and boy did I have my fix for the day. All three boxes were jazz records still in the original shrink wraps. Of the 180 or so most were Blue Notes that were mostly Liberty and reissues, but for a dollar apiece who cared that I was an idiot and a star minutes apart.